Wednesday 1 October 2008

Interpretation of International Humanitarian Law

Still catching up on recent Court judgments, allow me to highlight a recent Grand Chamber decision of the Court. In Korbely v. Hungary the Court found a violation of Article 7 ECHR (no punishment without law) by eleven votes to six. The applicant had participated in quelling a riot in Hungary during the failed 1956 revolution against the communist rulers. He was the captain of a squad that killed a number of people, some of which were armed. To summarise the decision in one sentence: the Court concluded that Korbely's acts did not satisfy all the elements of a crime against hmunanity as valid at that time. The dissenting opinions focus, amongst others, on interpretations of international humanitarian law, the validity of which I will leave to experts in that field. Once again, the judgments shows the difficulties confronting a human rights court when venturing into neighbouring fields of international law.