Strasbourg Observers

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  • Weichie

European Court of Human Rights Goes With the Times: Mangouras v. Spain

October 01, 2010

Earlier this week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Mangouras v. Spain. The case concerns the environmental disaster caused when the oil tanker Prestige sank in front of the Galician coast in 2002. Following the disaster, the Greek captain of the ship was detained […]

  • Eva Brems

Forced exposure to passive smoking violates human rights

September 24, 2010

Does exposure to smoking by other people violate human rights? This is a question that merits serious consideration. One context in which it has been raised is smoking in the presence of children (see the campaign of the Flemish Anti-Cancer League on this subject, with a link to my presentation on the subject). This raises […]

  • Maris Burbergs

A flight without passengers – new pilot judgment issued

September 08, 2010

The Court issued a pilot judgment last week in the case of Rumpf v. Germany. After reading the judgment it seems important to remind ourselves once more about the nature and objective of the pilot judgment procedure (PJP). It is described by Erik Fribergh, Registrar of the Court: “Rather than deal with these cases in […]

  • Alexandra Timmer

Just words? (Aksu v. Turkey Part II)

September 02, 2010

My post on Aksu v. Turkey received some criticism for not taking the freedom of expression into account. A brief memory-aid: Aksu is the case of a man of Roma origin who complained about degrading stereotypical remarks made about Roma in government-sponsored publications. In a “dictionary for pupils” and a book entitled “The Gypsies of […]

  • Maris Burbergs

‘De minimis non curat praetor’ principle in the Court’s practice

August 25, 2010

The Court has recently issued an inadmissibility decision in the case of Korolev v. Russia invoking the new admissibility criterion, introduced with the entry into force of Protocol No.14 to the Convention on 1 June 2010. The new admissibility criterion provides that applications are inadmissible where “the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage, unless […]

  • Eva Brems

‘Strong women don’t need asylum’ (the European Court on FGM)

August 19, 2010

Summertime in rainy Belgium! Relaxed after a sunny family holiday abroad, with no lectures or meetings on the agenda, I finally find some time to write a blog entry.  Only to realize that it is August, and that the judges at the European Court of Human Rights are also entitled to their holidays.  This means: […]

  • Lourdes Peroni

Upholding Unsuccessful Asylum Seekers’ Right to Family Life

August 16, 2010

In two recent judgments against Switzerland, the Court examined whether a five-year separation of unsuccessful asylum-seeker couples, pending their deportation, was contrary to Article 8 of the Convention. The applicants, two Ethiopian nationals, were denied asylum in Switzerland and ordered to be sent back to their country of origin. They remained however longer in Switzerland since […]

  • Eva Brems

Admitting a wrong to avoid having to repair it? (That’s not how it works, says the Court in Hakimi v. Belgium)

August 13, 2010

Obviously, all governments hate it  when an important criminal who after a long investigation and trial has been convicted, finds a violation of his article 6 rights that necessitates a retrial. The Belgian government thought they had found a way around this, but it didn’t work.

  • Weichie

Practicing ill-treatment

August 06, 2010

In Davydov and others v. Ukraine, the European Court of Human Rights was confronted with particularly disturbing facts. The case concerned ill-treatment committed by special forces on prisoners during training exercises. Not during an actual emergency situation of riot in the prison. No, during exercises. Twice. The prisoners were not warned about the exercises. They […]

  • Alexandra Timmer

The Power of Definition: Stereotypes of Roma in Aksu v. Turkey

July 29, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights just rendered a judgment on the issue of stereotyped images of Roma in government-funded publications in Turkey. I think the majority decision (4 to 3) lacks sustained analysis and requires problematization.  In the case of Aksu v. Turkey the applicant, mr Aksu, is of Roma origin. He complained about two […]

  • Weichie

Academic Freedom and the European Court of Human Rights

July 22, 2010

In Sapan v. Turkey (8 June 2010) the European Court of Human Rights emphasised the importance of academic freedom of expression. The case concerned the publication of a book entitled “Tarkan – anatomy of a star” (Tarkan – yıldız olgusu), in which a doctoral thesis was reproduced in part. The first part of the book […]

  • Alexandra Timmer

Strasbourg Court shows itself sensitive to the plight of Afghan women

July 20, 2010

The status of Afghan women has been high up on the agenda of the international human rights community in the past few years. Today the European Court of Human Rights joined the chorus of the concerned. The Court rendered a judgment that recognizes the extremely problematic status of women’s rights in Afghanistan and will hopefully […]

  • Maris Burbergs

Deciding on the pilot judgment procedure

July 15, 2010

On 6 July 2010 a chamber judgment in the case of Yetis and Onthers v. Turkey has been issued by the Court’s second section finding a violation of Article 1 Protocol No 1. The Court observed that the violation it had found had originated in a systemic problem connected with the absence in Turkish law […]

  • Lourdes Peroni

Lautsi and the Empty Wall

July 08, 2010

Is an empty wall in a state school classroom more neutral than a crucifix on it? No, it is not, argued NYU Professor, Joseph Weiler, representing various intervening governments in the very much expected Lautsi hearing last week. In his view, the naked wall (the absence of religion) is not a neutral option, particularly in […]

  • Alexandra Timmer

Gäfgen v. Germany: threat of torture to save a life?

July 06, 2010

In Gäfgen v. Germany , the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights was confronted with a difficult issue: can police officers threaten to torture a suspect if they believe this may save the life of an innocent child? The Court clearly answered that they cannot. However, it did leave what could at […]

  • Alexandra Timmer

Same-sex marriage case should go to the Grand Chamber: more on Schalk and Kopf v. Austria

July 01, 2010

Gay rights are one of the human rights issues of our time. The Strasbourg Court came out with an important but ultimately disappointing ruling on same-sex marriage last week (for a summary of the case, see Lourdes’ post). It is disappointing both for the reasoning and for the outcome (see below). Despite the fact that […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

A courtroom is not a zoo! The use of metal cages in criminal trials.

June 30, 2010

Can you keep an accused person in a metal cage during a public hearing? This practice is clearly humiliating as the Court judged in the case of Ashot Harutyunian v. Armenia but is it also at odds with the presumption of innocence? According to the European Court of Human Rights it is not.

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia: Strange considerations, but good conclusion

June 23, 2010

On the 10th of June, the ECtHR issued a judgment about the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow. In this case, the applicants firstly complained of a breach of article 9 of the Convention since the religious community was dissolved and its activities were permanently banned. The dissolution was ordered following allegations for luring […]

  • Weichie

When a Discrepancy is Not Necessarily a Discrepancy

June 14, 2010

Today I would like to discuss one particular aspect of a recent case, Biçici v. Turkey. This case concerned the arrest of Ms. Biçici, while she was participating in a peaceful demonstration, and her alleged ill-treatment during the arrest. The European Court of Human Rights found in favour of Ms. Biçici, ruling that the intervening […]

  • Saïla Ouald Chaib

“I swear I am not an Orthodox Christian!” Oath taking rules in Greek penal law: Dimitras v. Greece

June 10, 2010

The general rule in the Greek penal law requires witnesses to take an oath on the Gospels. Accordingly witnesses are a priori considered to be of the Orthodox Christian faith. Individuals who have another religion or who do not have a religion must declare this explicitly to the judge during the hearing. When the witness […]

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