Şerife Yiğit v. Turkey: The Court did it again!

The first post I wrote for our blog was titled: “Is a more inclusive wind blowing through the Court?”. In this post I discussed the case of Muñoz Díaz v. Spain that came out atthe end of 2009, about the non-entitlement to a widow pension by a women who was married for 29 years, but whose marriage was not seen as legally binding since it was solemnized according to Roma rites. I concluded my post by questioning whether the judgment in Muñoz Díaz  “represents a new wind through the jurisprudence of the court towards minority issues and especially towards legal pluralism” and “if this new wind exists, the question arises whether it will also reach Şerife Yiğit’s case that is still pending before the Grand Chamber”. This case is very similar to Muñoz Díaz, with the difference that here it concerns the non-entitlement of a widow pension to a woman who was only religiously married in Turkey and another difference is that the applicant does not belong to a minority in Turkey. We have been waiting one year in suspense for the answer to the last question. The answer the judges of the Grand Chamber unanimously gave last week was –again- a clear no. Continue reading

Is a more inclusive wind blowing through the Court?

Recently the European Court of Human Rights issued an interesting judgment in a case concerning a Roma Marriage. (Muñoz Diaz v. Spain, 8 December 2009) Muñoz Diaz and M.D. married in 1971 according to Roma traditions. This marriage was recognized by the Roma community. When her husband died, Muñoz Diaz applied for a survivor’s pension, but this request was denied on the ground that she “was not and had never been the wife of the deceased prior to the date of death” as she never solemnized her marriage under Civil law. However, the husband of Muñoz Diaz had been working as a builder for more than 19 years and he contributed to the social security during the same period. These contributions were supporting his wife and six children as his dependants. His 6 children were also registered in the family record book issued to the couple by the Spanish civil registration authorities and the family was granted ‘first-category large-family status’.

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