Saturday 17 December 2022

New Thematic Factsheet on Hate Crime and Hate Speech

The Council of Europe's Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights has just issued a new thematic factsheet on hate crime and hate speech. Here is a brief description:

'Hate crime is a criminal act motivated by bias or prejudice towards a person or group of persons while hate speech concerns various forms of expression directed against a person or group of persons on the grounds of the personal characteristics or status of the person or group of persons. When hate speech takes the form of conduct that is in itself a criminal offence – such as conduct that is abusive, harassing or insulting – it may also be referred to as hate crime.

The Court has noted that discriminatory treatment as such can in principle amount to degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention where it attains a level of severity such as to constitute an affront to human dignity. When investigating violent incidents, State authorities have the duty to take all reasonable steps to unmask possible discriminatory motives. The Court has underlined that the authorities must do whatever is reasonable in the circumstances to collect and secure the evidence, and deliver fully reasoned, impartial and objective decisions, without omitting suspicious facts that may be indicative of violence induced by intolerance or discrimination. Treating violence and brutality with a discriminatory intent on an equal footing with cases that have no such overtones would be turning a blind eye to the specific nature of acts that are particularly destructive of fundamental rights. 

The present factsheet provides examples of general and individual measures reported by States in the context of the execution of the European Court’s judgments, concerning the combat against racially motivated hate crimes which may emanate from security forces, private individuals or groups targeting Roma and migrants, hate crime and hate speech targeting LGBTI persons and religiously motivated hate crime and hate speech.'

Friday 16 December 2022

Call for Abstracts 'Heads and Tails': ECHR Admissibility and Remedies

On 15-16 June 2023, we are organising the international academic workshop 'Heads and Tails': Admissibility and Remedies at the European Court of Human Rights' at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. It is part of a collaboration between the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Administration of Justice, the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), and the Institute of Private Law of Oslo University. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 15 February 2023. The call for abstracts is as follows:

‘Heads and Tails’: Admissibility and Remedies at the European Court of Human Rights

Thursday 15 and Friday 16 June 2023 at Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Conveners: professor Janneke Gerards, professor Antoine Buyse, and professor Mads Andenas 

Background of the workshop

In recent years, much attention has been given to the position and effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights. With the aim of helping the Court deal with its heavy case-load, the ‘Interlaken process’ and the entry into force of Protocol 15 ECHR have brought about important changes in the formal rules on access to the Court as well as the Court’s working processes. For example, Protocol 15 has tightened the timeframe within which applicants have to submit their applications and has eased the requirements for holding applications inadmissible because the applicant did not suffer any significant disadvantage. In addition, the Court itself has invested in streamlining and improving its working processes, for instance by changing the application form, amending its priority rules and offering (better) reasoning in Single Judge decisions. It also has resorted to a new system for negotiating friendly settlements and it has proved to be increasingly willing to accept unilateral declarations, all to the effect that there is no need to decide these cases on their merits.

At the same time, with similar objectives, various developments can be seen as regards the remedies the Court can offer. In recent years the Court can be seen to make less use of its pilot judgment procedure, but it has been increasingly indicating individual and general measures that the respondent States should take to remedy a violation. Occasionally, the Court can be seen to award just satisfaction that is so high that it could arguably be seen to amount to punitive damages. Moreover, the Court may put pressure on the States to reopen national proceedings, even though the States have no obligation to do so under the Convention. In several ‘No 2’ cases the Court has appeared ready to revisit a situation it already dealt with in an earlier judgment, even when the Committee of Ministers is still exercising its supervisory role. And in a few recent cases, the Court has been asked under the infringement procedure of Article 46(4) ECHR to revisit cases in which state implementation was clearly failing.

Although these developments have been commented upon by scholars, their contributions often concern just one or a few particular aspects of the wider phenomena of admissibility and remedies. This makes it difficult to see the overall picture and discuss how the various developments regarding the ‘head’ and ‘tail’ of cases interact, from admissibility to striking off-decisions and remedies, or what their overall impact is on the ECHR system. How do these developments relate to the debate on whether the Court should offer individual or general justice, and whether its primary role should be to offer redress to individual justice or rather (or also) to address systemic violations? Can it be seen that the stricter demands on admissibility in the end result in stronger remedies to be imposed? Can the changes primarily be explained by the challenges offered by the Court’s caseload, or can other explanations be provided? What role is played in all these developments by the demands and needs of parties to the cases and other actors, such as (representing or intervening) NGOs and NHRIs, and how can this be assessed?

Aim of the workshop

This workshop brings together a number of expert researchers working on the ECHR system, from different perspectives, and using different methods. The invitation to them is to address particular developments and changes in the Court’s approach to admissibility, strike-off decisions and remedies and critically review them in the broader light of the objectives and nature of the ECHR system. The workshop is set up to foster dialogue and discussion and to allow for the various developments to be compared and contrasted, so as to allow for a bigger picture to arise.

Call for abstracts

We invite abstracts of maximum 350 words together with a cover letter by February 15, 2023, in one single PDF document. The cover letter should include a 1 paragraph CV (maximum 200 words) and explain in a few sentences the context of the paper: e.g. whether it is part of a PhD project, whether it is based on undertaken empirical research or part of ongoing research etc. Accepted contributors will be asked to provide a core draft paper with the main arguments, to be presented in the workshop. After the workshop we will invite a selected number of authors to finalise their paper with a view to compile a special issue of an international, peer-reviewed journal.


15 February 2023: Deadline abstract submission

End of February: Decision on accepted abstract and invitation to the workshop

1 June 2023: Submission of draft core papers

15-16 June 2023: Workshop at Utrecht University

End of June: Selection of authors for submission of papers for the special issue

15 September 2023: Submission of full papers for the special issue

Practicalities and format

To allow for intensive, in-depth discussions we aim at a small-size workshop (about 20-25 people), for which we would like to include a mixture of early-career and advanced scholars. We envisage five sessions, spread out over two half days (Thursday afternoon and Friday morning), with two or three very short presentations per session and sufficient time for real discussion. Prospective sessions include the following topics:

Session 1 | Entry Points: developments in admissibility criteria: Protocol 15, working methods of the Court 
Session 2 | Along the Way: developments in ‘striking off’ decisions: friendly settlements and unilateral 
Session 3 | The End of the Road (I): Developments in individual remedies (just satisfaction, reopening) 
Session 4 | The End of the Road (II): Developments in general/structural measures (pilot judgments, general remedies, role played by NGOs/NHRIs) 
Session 5 | Which Road to Travel? Which role(s) for the Court (individual versus structural justice, implementation problems) – (final general discussion with two very short kick-offs) 

Please note: the above serve as indications of the focus of the workshop – you do not need to indicate in your abstract in which session your format fits.
The workshop will be held at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. We are unfortunately not able to cover any costs of travel and accommodation, but we will offer an option for online presentations for those otherwise unable to attend. 

How to submit and deadline
Please submit the pdf with your abstract, CV and context explanation in one unified document by sending an email with the header ‘ECHR Heads and Tails Workshop’ before 15 February 2023 to: .

Thursday 15 December 2022

Online Course 'Introduction to the ECHR and the Court'

The Council of Europe is offering the free six-hour online course 'Introduction to the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights'. The course offers legal professionals and others a way to get familiarized with the text of the Convention and the interpretation thereof by the Court. It offers basic knowledge on the ECHR and the Court, necessary for anyone interested in the field. The course consists of three modules: one introductory module on the Convention, one introductory module on the Court, and one module on the execution of the Court's judgments. The course is available in 26 languages. A statement of accomplishment is obtained after completing the course. Here is the outline of the course:

Introductory Module: welcome message; navigation instruction; course authors; course target group

Module 1: Introduction to the European Convention on Human Rights
- Structure of the ECHR
- Interpreting the ECHR
- the ECHR within the national legal order
Module 2: Introduction to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
- Structure of the ECtHR
- The life of an application before the ECtHR
Module 3: Execution of the Judgments of the ECtHR
- Introduction to the module
- Supervision of the implementation of the ECtHR judgments
- Execution of the ECtHR judgments

The course is publicly available on the Council of Europe HELP platform.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Podcast on the Importance of the Court

The House of Wisdom Podcast has just released the episode Does the European Court of Human Rights Matter? In the episode, Dr. Rumyana van Ark (Researcher in (Counter-)Terrorism and Human Rights at the Asser Institute) discusses the importance of the European Court of Human Rights. Here is a description of the episode:

'Current UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman argued that the European Court of Human Rights is an interventionist, politicised, foreign court and its convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, doesn't allow the UK to 'deal with illegal migration' due to human rights claims. In this episode we interview Dr Rumyana Van Ark to review the position adopted by Braverman in order to discuss the important role the ECHR has played in protecting the rights of individuals and the manner in which it has helped deal with some of most important human rights issues within the region.'

Tuesday 6 December 2022

New Book on Litigation about Religion and the ECHR

Lisa Harms of the University of Münster has published the monograph Faith in Courts. Human Rights Advocacy and the Transnational Regulation of Religion with Hart Publishing. It is available as an ebook. This is the abstract: 

'The judicialisation of religious freedom conflicts is long recognised. But to date, little has been written on the active role that religious actors and advocacy groups play in this process. This important book does just that. It examines how Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Sikhs, Evangelicals, Christian conservatives and their global support networks have litigated the right to freedom of religion at the European Court of Human Rights over the past 30 years. Drawing on in-depth interviews with NGOs, religious representatives, lawyers and legal experts, it is a powerful study of the social dynamics that shape transnational legal mobilisation and the ways in which legal mobilisation shapes discourses and conflict lines in the field of transnational law.'

Sunday 4 December 2022

New Issue ECHR Law Review

The newest issue of the ECHR Law Review has just been published (vol. 3, issue 4). The issue contains an editorial note, two guest editorials, two research articles and a case note. The contributions discuss such topics as the impact of the European Court of Human Rights on Ukraine, the right to freedom of expression on the internet and Article 53 of the ECHR, to name a few. This is the table of contents:

* Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou and Vassilis P Tzevelekos, 'A Thorny Road to Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: Ukraine
and the European Court of Human Rights'

* Ganna Yudkivska, 'Ex Aequo et Bono – Some Post-Mandate Reflections'

* Mykola Gnatovskyy, 'The Strasbourg Court and Ukraine: De Jure Pacis Ad Jus Belli'

* Janneke Gerards, 'Article 53 ECHR and Minimum Protection by the European Court of Human Rights'

* Paolo Cavaliere, 'The Truth in Fake News: How Disinformation Laws Are Reframing the Concepts of Truth and Accuracy on Digital Platforms'

* Koen Lemmens, 'Freedom of Expression on the Internet after Sanchez v France: How the European Court of Human Rights Accepts Third-Party  ‘Censorship’'

Friday 2 December 2022

New Handbook on ECHR Law and Principles

Carla Buckley, Krešimir Kamber, Pamela McCormick and David Harris have just published a new handbook for university students as well as legal practitioners, entitled The European Convention on Human Rights – Principles and Law. Here is a brief summary:

'The European Convention on Human Rights – Principles and law is the essential handbook for university students, government officials, lawyers and human rights advocates seeking a comprehensive and concise account of the case law generated under the European Convention on Human Rights. Written by experts on the Convention, it:

• cites nearly 1 500 cases, providing links to each case in the HUDOC database;

• identifies key challenges and current legal developments;

• provides suggestions for further reading on contentious issues;

• is a companion text to Council of Europe’s book The individual application under the European Convention on Human Rights – Procedural guide by Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos and Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou.'

Friday 25 November 2022

Secretary General's Article 52 ECHR Report on Poland

Earlier this week, the Council of Europe's Secretary, Marija Pejčinović Burić, published her report on Poland's (non-)implementation of a number of key judgments of the Court on the right to a fair trial in Poland, part of the wider debates about the rule of law in Poland. The report was written under the so-called enquiry procedure of Article 52 ECHR which provides: 

'On receipt of a request from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe any High Contracting Party shall furnish an explanation of the manner in which its internal law ensures the effective implementation of any of the provisions of the Convention.' 

In this case, the debate focused on two heavily criticised Polish Constitutional Court judgments of 2021 finding specifically Article 6 ECHR contrary to the Polish Constitution. Starting an Article 52 inquiry is extremely rare, as reported earlier here.

It remains to be seen how and to what extent the export will affect the Committee of Ministers' work on the supervising the implementation of judgments. Considering the exceptional and rare use of the Article 52 ECHR option, it should be taken seriously all the more, in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the whole ECHR system. Crucial cases are already on the Committee's agenda for the December meeting and both Rule 9 submissions of a number of Polish NGOs on the relevant European Court judgments, as well as the reactions thereon of the Polish government, will be discussed. This is the official press release:

'A report by Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has been published today on serious issues raised by two judgments of the Polish Constitutional Court of 24 November 2021 and 10 March 2022. In these judgments, the Constitutional Court found that the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 6, which ensures the right to a fair trial (as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights), is not compliant with the Polish constitution.

The Secretary General concludes that the established and exclusive competence of the European Court to apply and interpret the rights set out in the Convention was challenged by these two judgments. As a result, Poland’s obligation to ensure to everyone under its jurisdiction the enjoyment of the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law is, at this stage, not fulfilled in Polish law. The Secretary General expresses her concerns in view of the rising number of similar judgments and related applications pending before the European Court.

In her report, the Secretary General underlines Poland’s strict obligation to execute the judgments of the European Court and stresses that the shortcomings identified need to be addressed by the Committee of Ministers when supervising Poland’s execution of these judgments, pursuant to Article 46 of the Convention. The Committee of Ministers will supervise in December 2022 the execution by Poland of judgments of the European Court in the cases of Xero Flor w Polsce sp. z o.o., Reczkowicz group of cases, Broda and Bojara.

The report shall serve as a basis for further engagement with the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue, with a view to ensuring the full enjoyment of the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law in Poland.'

Thursday 24 November 2022

Call for Contributions: European Yearbook on Human Rights 2023

The European Yearbook on Human Rights has issued a call for contributions for its 2023 issue. The 2023 issue has a special focus on 'Rethinking Human Rights'. The Yearbook publishes mostly about the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe. It also contains sections on human rights in the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe as well as cross-cutting analysis and commentary.

Here is the description of the call:

The challenges of upholding human rights in the world a numerous. While the universal framework for the protection of human rights still has validity and is of utter importance, it is time to question whether there is a need to rethink human rights and adapt applicable frameworks to current challenges for humanity ́s wellbeing and future.

In a special edition dedicated to new human rights challenges, the European Yearbook on Human Rights aims at shedding light on the most pressing issues that might impair the enjoyment of human rights in Europe and beyond in the near future. The aim of the special edition is to bring together research about topics that might have not received sufficient attention by academia or in public discourses but which are likely to shape our lives in the near future.

Therefore, we encourage submissions related to the identification of new human rights challenges but also related to innovative ways and processes to advocate and improve human rights protection for all.

Submissions may relate to (not exhaustive list)

- Human rights and climate change and environmental degradation
- Human rights and energy security
- Human rights litigation
- Human rights protection at the local level
- Human rights and arts
- Human rights and conflict

Authors will be invited to submit full contributions based on an abstract (max 500 words) that should be send by 18 December 2022. Abstracts should be submitted with a short bio to

The deadline for submitting the manuscript is end of March 2023.

The Yearbook is edited by representatives of the major Austrian human rights research, training and teaching institutions – the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy of the University of Graz; the Austrian Human Rights Institute of the University of Salzburg and the Vienna Forum for Democracy and Human Rights – and the Global Campus of Human Rights, Venice. It is published by Intersentia and all contributions are subject to a double-blind review process ensuring the highest academic standards.

For further information on the European Yearbook on Human Rights click here.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

New Book on Cyprus at the European Court of Human Rights

Costas Paraskeva and Eleni Meleagrou have published a new book entitled Cyprus at the European Court of Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal of the Court’s Jurisprudence on the Rights to Property and Home in the Context of Displacement (with Brill | Nijhoff). Here is a brief abstract of the book:

"The authors grapple with questions raised by the Court’s reversal in its approach to the violations of the rights to home and property of Cypriot displaced persons resulting from the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. In the 4th interstate application of Cyprus v. Turkey, the Court found Turkey in violation of the rights to home and property of hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriot internally displaced persons resulting from the invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus. Such findings were also firmly established in a handful of individual applications, most prominent amongst which is the landmark case Loizidou v. Turkey. However, a couple of decades following these judgments the findings of violations were jettisoned by the inadmissibility decision in Demopoulos and others v. Turkey."

Friday 18 November 2022

Interview with Robert Spano on the UK and the ECtHR

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg recently interviewed the former president of the European Court of Human Rights, Robert Spano. In the interview for the BBC, Robert Spano talks about the relationship between the Court and the United Kingdom, the UK Bill of Rights introduced by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, and the future of democracy in Europe. Listen to the interview here

Friday 11 November 2022

New Book on Human Rights Disputes in Sport before the ECtHR

Daniel Rietiker (senior lawyer at the ECtHR) has just published a new book entitled Defending athletes, players, clubs and fans: Manual for human rights education and litigation in sport, in particular before the European Court of Human Rights. Here is a brief summary:

''This essential book describes the scope and limits of the European Court of Human Rights’ role in resolving human rights disputes in sport, drawing on its own case law and other jurisdictions, notably the United States. It covers all aspects of the actual and potential application of human rights in sport as they relate to athletes, players, clubs and supporters. All those interested in the link between human rights education, strategic litigation and sport will find in this indispensable handbook the first comprehensive and explained summaries of the Court's case law in this area.''

Monday 7 November 2022

Call for Abstracts on Populism, Authoritarianism and the ECtHR

The PluriCourts Centre at the University of Oslo has issued a call for abstracts. It relates to an upcoming workshop with the title 'The European Court of Human Rights Facing Populism and Authoritarianism: Time for System Change?' which will take place on 27 and 28 April 2023 and will focus on populism, authoritarianism and the response of the European Court of Human Rights. This is the call for abstracts, with the middle of Christmas 26 December deadline:

'Populist and authoritarian governments in Europe have severely eroded the basic constitutional safeguards distinctive of liberal democracy. These attacks also target the recognition and exercise of human rights – and their ultimate guardian, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Council of Europe (CoE). Several state parties with a populist or authoritarian government in place refuse to implement adverse judgments of the Court. Others make it very difficult for individuals to exhaust domestic remedies, in order to put the ECtHR out of their reach. How does the ECtHR/CoE respond, and how could it respond better?

Studies of responses to populism and authoritarianism in the European Union as well as those of constitutional law and theory have abounded in recent years. Yet, no comprehensive study has so far examined the response and opportunities of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe more generally. Valuable existing contributions largely refer to particular cases often without distinguishing the systemic features of the Court and without attending to its adjudicatory practice in great depth. Can the ECtHR and the CoE can use existing tools crafted by legal scholars and political scientists given that its international, human rights-focused and subsidiary role?

The workshop aims to fill this gap by examining the Court’s role (including the CoE). For example, which variety of populism targets the ECtHR specifically, and is it different from the constitutional arena? And how has the Court responded so far? Such attacks may lead the Court to further develop – or limit – its jurisdictional, interpretive and investigative arsenal. The Court has been conventionally portrayed as the external guarantee for the basic democratic rights of individuals – a notorious example of ‘militant democracy’. Is the Court today up to the task of facing more subtle and insidious threats to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights? The workshop also interrogates whether these threats require the Court not only to pursue new policies, but also require reform of the systemic relationships between the Court and domestic authorities, in particular the mechanisms expressing subsidiarity. National authorities have been conceived as the “compliance partners” (Alter) already at the Court’s beginning. Yet, populists and authoritarians have developed advanced political and legal techniques to use and abuse subsidiarity to their advantage, thereby undermining the structure of the Court’s system. Do these domestic techniques require reform of the subsidiarity roles of the ECtHR?'

More information, also on the workshop's setup can be found here. And abstract can be submitted through here.

Thursday 3 November 2022

New Book on the ECHR Regime and Immigration and Minority Policies

Dia Anagnostou (Associate Professor, Panteion University of Social Sciences) has just published a new book entitled The European Convention of Human Rights Regime: Reform of Immigration and Minority Policies from Afar. Here is the abstract:

'Prompted by an unprecedented rise of litigation since the 1990s, this book examines how the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) system and the Strasbourg Court interact with states and non-governmental actors to influence domestic change. Focusing on European Court of Human Rights litigation and state implementation of judgments related to minority discrimination and asylum/migration, it argues that a fundamental transformation of the Convention system has been under way. Repeat and strategic litigation, shifting methods of supervision and state implementation to remedy systemic violations, and above all the growing engagement of civil society and non-governmental actors, have prompted a distinctive trend of human rights experimentalism. The emergence of experimentalism has profound implications for the legitimacy, effectiveness and further reform of the ECHR system. This study provides an original constitutive account of regional human rights regimes and how they are activated by societal actors to claim rights, advance case law, and pressure for domestic legal and policy change. It will be of interest to international law and international relations scholars, political scientists, specialists on the ECHR, the Strasbourg Court, as well as to scholars interested in the human rights of immigrants and minorities.'

Tuesday 1 November 2022

New Book on Fair Trial Rules of Evidence in ECtHR Case-Law

Jurkka Jämsä (Vaasa Court of Appeal, Finland) has published the monograph Fair Trial Rules of Evidence. The Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights with Routledge.  It is a very structured practice-oriented guide on the law of evidence and the normative framework the European Court of Human Rights' case-law provides for it. This is the abstract:

'This book examines how the European Court of Human Rights approaches the matter of evidence, and how its judgments affect domestic law.

The case law of the Court has affected many areas of law in Europe. One of these areas is the law of evidence, and especially criminal evidence. This work examines the key defence rights that may touch upon evidence, such as the right to adduce evidence, the right to disclosure, the privilege against self-incrimination and access to a lawyer, entrapment, and the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. It explains the relevant assessment criteria used by the Court and introduces a simple framework for understanding the various assessment models developed by the Court, including "the Perna test", "the Ibrahim criteria", and "the sole or decisive rule".

The book provides a comprehensive overview on the relevant case law, and will be a valuable asset for students and researchers, as well as practitioners, such as judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, working in the areas of criminal procedure and human rights.'

Friday 28 October 2022

New Thematic Factsheet on the Reopening of Domestic Judicial Proceedings Following the European Court's Judgments

Last week, the Council of Europe's Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights has published a new thematic factsheet on the reopening of domestic judicial proceedings following judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Here is a brief description:

'The full, effective and speedy implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights by the States parties to the Convention makes a major contribution to the achievement of common observance and enforcement of human rights in Europe. 

A judgment in which the Court finds a breach imposes on the respondent State a legal obligation to put an end to the breach and make reparation for its consequences in such a way as to restore as far as possible the situation existing before the breach. This is the principle of restitutio in integrum, which has also frequently been applied by the Committee of Ministers. The need to improve the possibilities under national legal systems to ensure restitutio in integrum for the injured party has become increasingly apparent. Although the Convention contains no provision imposing an obligation on States to provide in their national law for the re-examination or reopening of proceedings, the existence of such possibilities has proven to be important, and indeed in some cases the only, means to achieve restitutio in integrum. 

The present factsheet presents an overview of the general principles concerning reopening of domestic judicial proceedings, as well examples of the relevant State practice examined by the Committee of Ministers in the context of the execution of the European Court’s judgments concerning various provisions of the Convention.'

Thursday 27 October 2022

CoE Guidelines on Preventing and Remedying ECHR Violations

We had not yet reported on it, but at the end of last month, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted guidelines to assist themselves, the 46 Council of Europe member states, in their efforts to comply with their obligations to secure to everyone, within their jurisdiction, the rights and freedoms defined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The formal title is 'Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers on the prevention and remedying of violations of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms'. In many ways a compilation of earlier standards and recommendations in one single document and aiming to address the implementation gap, the Guidelines in the Committee of Ministers' own words focus on the following:

  • preventing violations through effective national implementation of the Convention (extending awareness-raising of, and training on, the Convention system)
  • improving domestic remedies
  • facilitating the domestic application of the Convention and relevant case law of the Court
  • 'improving verification of the compliance of draft laws, existing laws and administrative practices with the Convention
  • improving parliamentary involvement
  • strengthening the role of National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organisations
  • promoting experience sharing, enhancing co-operation programmes with the Council of Europe
  • and considering the ratification of Protocol No. 16 to the Convention (concerning requests for advisory opinions).
As regards remedying violations found by the Court, the guidelines recommend that member states:
  • strengthen domestic capacity for rapid and effective remedial action and coordination structures
  • improve the publication and dissemination of information on the execution of judgments of the Court
  • ensure that remedies are fully effective in the execution context
  • enhance efforts to deal with technical and other obstacles regarding the execution of the Court’s judgments
  • and promote stakeholder participation in the execution process.'

Tuesday 25 October 2022

New Book: Exporting the European Convention on Human Rights

Maria-Louiza Deftou (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Athens Public International Law Center) has just published a monograph entitled Exporting the European Convention on Human Rights with Bloomsbury. Here is the abstract:

'This book explores how the European Convention on Human Rights operates and influences on the global stage. The ECHR and its interpretation by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) considerably echo in and outside Europe. To what degree has that influence translated into its norms, doctrines and methods of interpretation being exported into equivalent systems which also enact the protection of fundamental rights? This book answers that question by exploring the judicial dialogue of the ECHR system with comparable legal orders.

Through a horizontal and multifaceted study of regional and global systems, the book identifies the impact of the ECHR within the confines of their jurisprudence to provide scholars in the field of international human rights law with an essential text. Discussing the extent to which the ECHR penetrates into the judicial production of the most affected legal systems, the book mostly focuses on the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee. It also investigates whether there is room for cross-fertilisation between them and finally, moves on to explore the legal consequences of the interplay of these mechanisms with the ECtHR and what it means for the overall functioning of international human rights law.'

Friday 21 October 2022

New ECHR Readings

Please find below a number of newly published readings related to the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights of the last few months:

Veronika Fikfak and Lora Izvorova, ‘Language and Persuasion: Human Dignity at the European Court of Human Rights’, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 22, Issue 3 (2022):

‘Although the concept of human dignity is absent from the text of the European Convention on Human Rights, it is mentioned in more than 2100 judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The judges at the Court have used dignity to develop the scope of Convention rights, but also to signal to respondent states just how serious a violation is and to nudge them toward better compliance. However, these strategies reach dead ends when the Court is faced with government submissions that are based on a conception of dignity that is different from the notion of human dignity relied on by the Court. Through empirical analysis and by focusing on Russia, the country against which the term dignity is used most frequently, the paper maps out situations of conceptual contestation and overlap. We reveal how the Court strategically uses mirroring, substitutes dignity for other Convention values, or altogether avoids confrontation. In such situations, the Court’s use (and non-use) of dignity becomes less about persuading states to comply with the Convention and more about preserving its authority and managing its relationship with states.’

Dr. Maria-Louiza Deftou, ‘The Road to the EU’s Accession to the ECHR: Reshaping the ECtHR-CJEU Judicial Interaction in Cases of ‘Unwanted Migration’?’, International Community Law Review, Issue 24 (2022):
‘The dual European judicial protection of fundamental rights with the two Courts, namely the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), represents a multi-layered, yet dialectic, model of protection with no formal hierarchy between its components. In the aftermath of Opinion 2/13 and faced with uncontrolled ‘unwanted migration’ flows, the EU judicature defended the principle of mutual trust at any cost and appeared to prioritise the protection of the Dublin regime (the EU responsibility allocation mechanism for examining asylum applications) instead of addressing the novel human rights challenges facing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Yet, their interplay has entered a new era since the renegotiation of the EU’s accession to the ECHR launched. By analysing the case law of the two Courts, this article thinks anew their relationship to ascertain whether the evolution of the accession project, throughout the latest decade, has affected the protection offered to ‘unwanted migrants’ in Europe.’

Laura-Stella Enonchong, ‘Public prosecutors and the right to personal liberty: An analysis of the jurisprudence of the UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights’, Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, Vol. 40, Issue 3 (2022) pp. 222-243:

‘This article discusses the approach of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to interpreting and applying the right to personal liberty, in particular in relation to the judicial control of the deprivation of liberty. It appears that both institutions adopt an interpretative approach that aligns with the object and purpose of the right. However, in the application to individual cases, unlike the ECtHR, the HRC fails to clarify the scope of the relevant provision of the ICCPR, specifically, the independence and impartiality of the public prosecutor as ‘an other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power’. That situation may ultimately undermine a more effective attainment of the object and purpose of the right to personal liberty. The article argues for the HRC to adopt a more systematic approach to interpreting and applying that right in particular and the provisions of the ICCPR in general.’

Thursday 20 October 2022

Launch of the Court's Knowledge Sharing Platform

On 18 October 2022, the Court's Knowledge Sharing platform (ECHR-KS) was launched, a platform developed by the Registry. On the platform, up-to-date data and analyses of developments in the Court's case-law through specific Convention Articles/Transversal Themes are shared. The platform thereby complements other sources for the Court's case-law such as HUDOC

The Knowledge Sharing platform is available in the two official languages of the Court, English and French. The information available is updated on a weekly basis. 

In this video the Court's Registrar, Marialena Tsirli, explains the functioning of the platform and how to use it. In addition, this video will help you navigate through the system.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Video Interview with Court President Robert Spano

Current Court President Robert Spano is in his last few weeks at the helm of the European Court of Human Rights. To look back at his presidency of the Court over the last 2.5 years, he has been interviewed this month by professor Mikael Rask Madsen, the director of iCourts at the University of Copenhagen. The interview, following a similar earlier one done in 2020, provides a broad panorama of the Court and it's case-law and is partly based on questions collected from ECHR experts across Europe. Well worth to watch this interview video!

Friday 14 October 2022

New Book: Case Law Compendium on the Death Penalty and Extrajudicial Execution

Jeremy McBride (Barrister at Monckton Chambers, London, specialising in cases before the ECHR and the UNHRC) has published the book entitled Compendium of case law of the European Court of Human Rights on the death penalty and extrajudicial execution, with Council of Europe  (2022). Below is a brief summary of the book:
'The compendium’s aim is to assist national judges, prosecutors and lawyers from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe to deal with extradition or deportation cases when there is a risk of the death penalty being imposed in third countries or of extrajudicial execution. It also aims at enabling legal professionals from countries where the death penalty still exists to develop arguments based upon the reasoning of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It contains relevant extracts from the Court’s case law, structured in a user-friendly way.'

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Hybrid Colloquium on Margin of Appreciation

This Thursday 13 October, in the afternoon, Maastricht University, is organising a hybrid colloquium entitled 'The Margin of Appreciation as the Bridge Between the Universal Presence of Human Rights and Their Concrete Implementation'. The full programme can be found here. This is the abstract of the event:

'In the last two decades, the margin of appreciation has become a cornerstone of the Convention system, but it remains a contested and undertheorized concept. Stijn Smet argues that the European Court has never fully explained exactly what the margin of appreciation is or does. J.G. Merrills notes that the margin of appreciation is fraught with difficulty, and Steven Greer concludes that the most striking characteristic of its application remains its casuistic, uneven, and largely unpredictable nature. This ambiguity primarily concerns the question of when and why the Court grants states a ‘certain’, a ‘narrow’, or a ‘wide’ margin of appreciation. On the one hand, this elusive character enables the margin of appreciation to function as a ‘lubricant’ in the Convention system. On the other hand, this elusive character might undermine central legal principles such as legal certainty and the rule of law.

This colloquium will analyze the margin of appreciation as the bridge between the universal presence of human rights and their concrete implementation. It is organized by the Department of Foundations and Methods of Law in collaboration with the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights.

This colloquium will be conducted in a hybrid format offering attendees the option to join virtually via Zoom or in-person in Maastricht.'

Monday 10 October 2022

New Book on Private Actors and the Procedure Before the European Court

A bit over a week ago, my Utrecht Law School colleague and SIM fellow Claire Loven successfully defended her PhD dissertation. Followers of this blog may know her as the moderator of our MOOC on the ECHR. Dr Loven's monograph has already been published with Intersentia Publishers in the Human Rights Research Series and is entitled Fundamental Rights Violations by Private Actors and the Procedure Before the European Court of Human Rights. The PhD thesis was written under the supervision of my Utrecht colleagues professors Janneke Gerards and Cedric Ryngaert. I had the pleasure of serving as a member of the reading committee and can attest that it is lucidly written and contains a very thorough and well-researched analysis of what dr Loven has dubbed 'verticalised cases' before the European Court. This is the abstract:

'Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights prescribes that individual applications must be directed against one of the Convention States. Consequently, private actors involved in proceedings against other private actors before domestic courts must complain about State (in)action in their application to the European Court of Human Rights. In other words, originally ‘horizontal’ conflicts must be ‘verticalised’ in order to be admissible. Although such verticalised cases make up a large portion of the Court’s case law, the particular nature of these cases, as well as procedural issues that may arise in them, has not received much attention. To fill this gap, this book offers a detailed examination of verticalised cases coming before the Court. The characteristics of and the Court’s approach to verticalised cases are explored by means of an in-depth analysis of four types of verticalised cases (cases related to one’s surroundings; cases involving a conflict between the right to reputation and private life and the right to freedom of expression; family life cases; and employer-employee cases). On the basis of this analysis, it is argued that the Court’s current approach to verticalised cases poses problems for private actors, Convention States and the Court itself. In presenting recommendations for the resolution of these problems, the book concludes with a proposal for a new approach to verticalised cases, consisting of a redesigned third-party intervention procedure.'

Congrats once again, Claire!