Rooman v. Belgium: when linguistic problems lead to a violation of core human rights

Marie Bourguignon is a PhD researcher at the Leuven Centre for Public Law, Institute for Human Rights. She specializes in linguistic rights and access to law in multilingual Belgium.

On 31 January 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights convicted Belgium for inhuman or degrading treatment as well as for violating the right to liberty and security. The case concerns Mr. Rooman, a convicted sex offender suffering from mental disorders and sentenced to prison, who could not have proper access to psychiatric and psychologic care in his own language. Although the Court was right to find human rights violations in casu, it should not have based its reasoning on the official status of the language spoken by the applicant. Continue reading

The subscription of Belgium to Strasbourg in detention cases: Rooman v. Belgium & Tekin and Arslan v. Belgium

By Rebecca Deruiter – PhD Researcher, Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP), Ghent University[1]

Two rulings convicted the Belgian state for violating Article 3 in the case of Rooman v. Belgium and Article 2 in the case of Tekin and Arslan v. Belgium. Both these cases concern mentally-ill offenders for which the Belgian state already has a deplorable reputation. These judgments reveal, once again, structural problems which are still present in the Belgian penitentiary system: the lack of (after)care for mentally-ill offenders and the inadequate training of prison staff. Continue reading