Aydin v. Germany or the Strasbourg Court’s faint reasoning in a case of political dissent

Today’s guest post was written by Hannes Cannie, PhD candidate at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Further information on Hannes, including a list of his publications, can be found here.

In Aydin v. Germany (27 January 2011) the Fifth Section of the Strasbourg Court held with six votes to one that the applicant’s criminal conviction for lending support to an illegal organisation constituted no violation of Article 10 ECHR. Although the conviction itself for various acts that are interpreted as contravening a ban on the PKK’s activities may seem reasonable, I find that the Court, as it does not pay much attention to the freedom of expression perspective, misses a chance to shed light on the controversial speech issue in this case.

But first things first, what is this case about? In1993 the German Interior Ministry issued a decision by which it imposed a ban on the activities of the PKK within the German territory, contravention of which is punishable under the German Law on Associations (section 20 §1 no. 4). In the context of a large-scale campaign launched by the PKK’s presidential counsel in 2001, the applicant, as did many others, signed a declaration firmly condemning this ban and asking attention for the Kurdish question, which is “a European problem waiting for a solution”.

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