Human Rights Centre submits third party intervention in a case concerning ethnic profiling by law enforcement officers

By Sien Devriendt and Tess Heirwegh, PhD researchers, Human Rights Centre (Ghent University)

The Human Rights Centre of Ghent University[1] has submitted a third party intervention in the case of Zeshan Muhammad against Spain. The case concerns the use of ethnic profiling by law enforcement officers. The applicant, a Pakistani citizen, was stopped for a police identity check solely on the basis of his skin colour. When Mr. Muhammad asked to explain the reasons for the identity check, the police officer answered “because you are black”. He initiated state liability proceedings, but his complaints have been dismissed at first instance as well as on appeal. Furthermore, he lodged an amparo appeal with the Constitutional Court, but to no avail. The applicant holds that there has been a violation of his right not to be discriminated against on grounds of race, colour or ethnic origin (Article 14 or, alternatively, Article 1 Protocol 12 jo. Article 8 of the Convention). Moreover, he complains under Article 8 of the Convention that the State failed to take all reasonable steps to uncover any possible racist motives behind the incident. Finally, he states that there has been violation of his right to a fair hearing (Article 6 § 1 of the Convention). In this post, we highlight our key arguments. The full text of the third party intervention can be found here. Continue reading

IRELAND V THE UK AND THE HOODED MEN: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY?

Written by Dr Alan Greene, Assistant Professor at Durham Law School*

In Ireland v The United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR; the Court) in Chamber formation refused to revise its 1978 judgment regarding whether British security forces’ use of the so-called ‘five techniques’ of interrogation during the conflict in Northern Ireland amounted to torture under Article 3 ECHR.  In so doing, the ECtHR missed an opportunity to correct an historic wrong; one that has had a pernicious effect across the globe. In contrast, the dissenting judgment of Judge Siofra O’Leary strikes a more persuasive balance between legal certainty and the public interest in holding a state to account for ‘a serious violation of the European public order.’ Continue reading

The final Copenhagen Declaration: fundamentally improved with a few remaining caveats

By Janneke Gerards (professor of fundamental rights law, Utrecht University) and Sarah Lambrecht (researcher, Research Group Government and Law, UAntwerp and law clerk at the Belgian Constitutional Court[1])

At the High Level Conference meeting in Copenhagen on 12 and 13 April 2018 under the Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Copenhagen Declaration was adopted. This Declaration was much anticipated, as the draft version issued on 5 February 2018 by the Danish Government was heavily criticised. Academics (on EJIL:Talk!, Strasbourg Observers and ECHR Blog, UK Strasbourg Spotlight and Verfassungsblog), NGOs (see also the Director of ICJ, the Executive Director of Open Society Justice Initiative and the Danish Helsinki-Committee of Human Rights), national human rights institutions, members of national parliaments in PACE and civil servants expressed grave concern about the harm the draft Copenhagen Declaration could do to the Court’s independence and authority, about its misconstruction of the Court’s jurisdiction and role (especially when defining the Convention system’s subsidiary nature), its potential to undermine the universality of human rights, and its objective of installing new channels of ‘dialogue’, which could have the effect of exposing the Court to undue political pressure by national governments. Overall, most commentators agreed that the initial draft, if adopted as such, would damage the Convention’s system of protection of human rights in Europe as a whole. Continue reading

Inadmissibility decision in Bonnaud and Lecoq v. France – should the Court have recognized the specificity of a same-sex relationship?

By Pieter Cannoot, PhD researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University

On 6 February 2018, the European Court of Human Rights declared the application of Francine Bonnaud and Patricia Lecoq, two French women who were in a relationship at the time of the relevant facts, manifestly ill-founded. The application concerned the refusal by the domestic courts to grant the request by both women to delegate parental authority over their respective biological child to their partner. Although the Court prima facie seems to have come to a logical decision, the question arises whether the application was accurately framed to deal with the substantive issue at stake, i.e. the discrimination of same-sex couples regarding parental rights. Continue reading

Announcement Grassrootsmobilise Conference and Public Event (Athens, 3-4 May)

On Friday 4 May 2018, the Grassrootsmobilise Programme organizes a conference “Between state and citizen: religion at the ECtHR”, preceded by a public event on Thursday 3 May on “Religion and Secularism: does the Court go too far – or not far enough?” Strasbourg Observer Prof. Dr. Eva Brems participates in the latter event.

This is the conference concept note: Continue reading

Resuscitating the Turkish Constitutional Court: The ECtHR’s Alpay and Altan Judgments

Written by Senem Gurol, PhD candidate at Ghent University

Introduction

After the failed coup d’etat in Turkey, critics have raised concerns about the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR or the Court) ability and willingness to provide an effective remedy for the human rights violations occurred. These concerns arose from the Strasbourg Court’s recent inadmissibility decisions in the cases of Zihni, Çatal, and Köksal, which resulted in the Court sending the applicants back to exhaust the disputedly available and effective domestic remedies. Conversely, in the judgments of Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, delivered on 20 March 2018, the ECtHR demonstrated a vigilant scrutiny over the protection of freedom of expression in Turkey which has deteriorated even further in recent years. These cases are also the first in which the Strasbourg Court has examined the validity of the derogation made on 21 July 2017 by Turkey under Article 15 of the Convention in relation to restrictions of other Convention rights, namely Articles 5 and 10. In this blogpost, I will focus on the ECtHR’s exercise of its subsidiarity role in the given cases and its impact on the functioning of the domestic remedies in Turkey. Continue reading

The best interests of the child in deportation cases: An analysis of Ejimson v. Germany

By Dr. Mark Klaassen, Assistant professor at the Institute of Immigration Law (Leiden University)

Introduction

On 1 March 2018, the Fifth Section of the Court unanimously held in Ejimson v. Germany that the revocation of the right of residence in Germany of a Nigerian national after being criminally convicted for a drugs related offence did not breach Germany’s obligation to respect the private and family life of the applicant. Considering the character of the offence committed by the applicant the ruling may not come as a surprise as the Court is generally very strict in public order immigration cases in which the applicant has committed a drugs related offence. However, the reasoning of the Court is interesting for a number of reasons. After discussing the facts of the case and the judgment of the Court, I will analyse the ruling on three different aspects. Firstly, the role of the best interests of the child concept in the balancing of interests will be discussed. Secondly, the relationship between the right to respect for family life under Article 8 ECHR and the protection against expulsion under EU law will be assessed. Thirdly, I will shortly reflect on the manner in which the Court seems to redirect the case back to national decision makers. Continue reading