Monday 8 March 2010

Key Judgments of Last Week

Let me highlight here three key judgments and decisions the Court delivered last week. The first is the judgment of Kozak v. Poland on the rights of homosexuals. The Court held that a blanket exclusion of persons living in a homosexual relationship from succession to a tenancy was in the context of the case not acceptable as a way of defending family values and found a violation of Article 14 (discrimination, in this case on the basis of sexual orientation) in conjunction with article 8 ECHR.

The second is the long-awaited judgment in Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. the United Kingdom, about two Iraqis taken prisoner by the British troops in Iraq and handed over - against the Court's orders -to the Iraqi authorities (see my earlier post here). The Court found a violation of Article 3, since it had exposed the two to the death penalty which they would face in Iraq. The judgment is an important one in the series of decisions and judgments on the death penalty (see para. 123) of the judgment, for which the groundwork was laid amongst others in Kaboulov v. Bulgaria of November last year. For an analysis on EJIL talk, click here.

Finally, the Grand Chamber issued an admissiblity decision in a group of Cypriot property cases: Demopoulos v. Turkey and seven other cases. The decision is the latest in the series of cases on contested Greek-Cypriot property in the northern, Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus. In the Pilot Judgment Procedure of Xenides-Arestis v. Turkey (2005-2006) a chamber of the Court had indicated that Turkey should enact changes in the existing compensation mechanism, which it subsequently did. In the decision of last week, the Grand Chamber declared a number of applications inadmissible, indicating that the existing remedies in Northern Cyprus should first be exhausted. In this way, the Grand Chamber seemed to take a practical and pragmatic approach. It emphasized that it does not force people to use these remedies - they may also await a broader political solution. But if they do, they cannot yet apply to Strasbourg. This could be seen as a new example of renewed Strasbourgian assertiveness in the light of the large quantity of applications it still faces.