Mammadov v. Azerbaijan: It Is about Effectiveness of the Strasbourg System.

By Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Liverpool)

Infringement proceedings: the question of legitimacy

In 2010, when Protocol 14 entered into force, it amended Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECtHR). Section 4 was added to this Article. It empowered the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to initiate infringement proceedings before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR. On 5 December 2017, the Committee of Ministers chose to use this procedure for the first time in history and referred the case of Ilgar Mammadov v Azerbaijan to the Court. The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR must now decide whether Azerbaijan has indeed failed to fulfil its obligations under the Convention. Continue reading

No overbroad suppression of extremist opinions and ‘hate speech’

By Dirk Voorhoof, Human Rights Centre, Ghent University and Legal Human Academy

In its recent judgment in Stomakhin v. Russia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) launched the message to all domestic authorities to adopt a “cautious approach” in determining the scope of “hate speech” crimes and to avoid “excessive interference” with the right to freedom of expression, especially when action is taken against ‘hate speech’ or extremist opinions that are mere criticism of the government, state institutions and their policies and practices. The judgment of 9 May 2018, in which the ECtHR unanimously found a violation of Article 10 ECHR, sets an important standard: as judge Keller observed in her concurring opinion, “it is the first time that this Court has had to decide on a case which stems from the application of the Suppression of Extremist Activities Act (..), and will thus be the starting point of a body of case-law which will serve as a reference not only in future cases concerning Russia, but for all other Member States as well.” Continue reading

Ill-treatment in the war against terror: the cases of Al Nashiri v. Romania and Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania

By Christina Kosin, Ph.D. Candidate and Academic Assistant at the German Police University

On 31 May 2018 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the cases of Al Nashiri v. Romania and Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania that the Contracting States Romania and Lithuania violated multiple provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), among others the substantive and procedural limb of Art. 3 ECHR – the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Neither in Al Nashiri nor in Abu Zubaydah did public authorities from Romania or Lithuania themselves inflict ill-treatment on the applicants who were under suspicion to be involved in terrorist activities. The Strasbourg Court found a substantive breach of Art. 3 ECHR on the basis of the conduct of a third party, the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA (CIA), at secret detention sites within the jurisdictions of Romania and Lithuania. The ECtHR established “beyond reasonable doubt” that Romania as well as Lithuania knew of the CIA’s activities in their respective territories at the material time. For this reason, it considered that Romania and Lithuania had acquiesced in and consented to the High-Value Detainee (HVD) Programme of the US and therefore held them responsible for the inhuman treatment suffered by the applicants at the hands of US officials. Continue reading

Benedik v Slovenia: Police need a court order to access subscriber information associated with a dynamic IP address

By Argyro Chatzinikolaou, (Doctoral Researcher), Law & Technology research group, Ghent University

Recently, the Fourth Section of the Court held in its judgement in the case of Benedik v Slovenia that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) with regard to the failure of the Slovenian police to obtain a court order before accessing subscriber information associated with a dynamic IP address[1]. More precisely, according to the Court, the legal provision used by the Slovenian police in order to access subscriber information associated with a dynamic IP address without first obtaining a court order had not met the Convention standard of being ‘in accordance with the law’.
Continue reading

Correia de Matos v. Portugal: Fragmented protection of the right to defend oneself in person

Dr. Dorothea Staes (affiliated researcher, The Perelman Center for Legal Philosophy, ULB, Belgium and trainee at the European Commission)

In the Grand Chamber judgement Correia de Matos v. Portugal of 4 April 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter: the Court) decided by a majority of nine votes to eight that the right to a fair trial was not violated with regards to the applicant, who was not allowed to conduct his own defence in the criminal proceedings against him. The blog focuses on how this judgement upholds fragmentation between the interpretation of human rights by the Court and the United Nations Human Rights Committee (hereinafter: HRC). It also develops arguments as to why harmony – instead of fragmentation – should have been the preferred option. Continue reading

Nationality and Statelessness Before the European Court of Human Rights: A landmark judgment but what about Article 3 ECHR?

By Dr. Hélène Lambert (Professor of Law at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Professor of International Law at the University of Westminster in London, United Kingdom)

Introduction

Two years ago, following the judgment of the Fourth Section of the European Court of Human Rights in Ramadan v. Malta, Marie-Bénédicte Dembour called on the Court to take nationality seriously because it is “a core human rights issue” (Strasbourg Observers). Dembour criticised the Court for insisting “that the applicant brings impossible proofs” of his nationality, thereby favouring the defendant State, and for blaming the applicant for his predicament. Hoti v Croatia gives us the opportunity to scrutinise once more how the Strasbourg Court understands nationality and statelessness in human rights terms, and there is some good news. Continue reading

Tariq v United Kingdom: Closed Material Procedures Green-Lit by European Court

Lewis Graham, PhD Student at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

The First Section Committee recently handed down its Decision in Gulamhussein and Tariq v the United Kingdom (Application Nos. 46538/11 and 3960/12) (hereafter “Tariq v UK”). It acts as a de facto appeal from a UK Supreme Court decision handed down seven years ago, and sees the European Court of Human Rights returning to the thorny issue of Article 6 protections in the context of closed material procedures. The takeaway point is this: the ECtHR has clarified the position of its previous case law, and in doing so has ultimately approved the UK courts’ approach to Article 6 in the context of closed material procedures. Continue reading