Mocanu v. Romania: do large-scale human rights violations justify only a mild admissibility test?

This guest post was written by Helena De Vylder, Ph.D. researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Her research focuses on admissibility criteria in regional human rights systems.

Mocanu and others v Romania fits in a series of cases in which the Strasbourg Court needed to deal with grave and large-scale human rights violations, happening before the entry into force of the Convention. The events happening before the entry into force are undoubtedly not subject to the temporal jurisdiction of the Convention. The admissibility of complaints concerning the investigative measures and proceedings after the coming into force in the contrast has been accepted by recent case law (and here). Mocanu further refines this case law by dealing with particular circumstances.

In this case, the Court had to deal with the investigation and the length of proceedings which followed the violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in Bucharest in June 1990. During the crackdown, Ms Mocanu’s husband – the first applicant’s husband – was killed by gunfire and Mr Stoica – the second applicant – was arrested and ill-treated by the police. The criminal proceedings are still pending in respect of the first applicant. The relevant investigation in respect of the second applicant was terminated by a final judgment in 2011. The applicants claim the proceedings did not live up to the standards put forward by the procedural aspect of article 2 and 3.

In contrast to the merits, the admissibility of the case is less straightforward. The admissibility issues relate to the jurisdiction ratione temporis and the exhaustion of domestic remedies. Continue reading