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!

Sunday, 9 October 2022

New Issue ECHR Law Review

The newest issue of the ECHR Law Review is out now (vol. 3, issue 3). The issue contains an editorial note, two guest editorials, a case report, a book review and research articles. The contributions discuss such topics as the judicial discretion of the European Court of Human Rights, the practice of national courts to request advisory opinions under Protocol 16 and utilitarianism, to name a few. This is the table of contents:

* Vassilis P Tzevelekos and Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, 'The Judicial Discretion of the European Court of Human Rights: The Years of Plenty, and the Lean Years'

* Françoise Tulkens, 'Judicial Activism v Judicial Restraint: Practical Experience of This (False) Dilemma at the European Court of Human Rights'

* George Tsebelis, 'What Determines the Judicial Discretion of the European Court of Human Rights?'

* Lize Glas and Jasper Krommendijk, 'A Strasbourg Story of Swords and Shields: National Courts’ Motives to Request an Advisory Opinion from the ECtHR Under Protocol 16'

* Jeremy Letwin, 'A Utilitarian Account of Article 3 ECHR'

* Sarah Ganty, 'The Double-Edged ECtHR Lăcătuş Judgment on Criminalisation of Begging: Da Mihi Elimo Sinam Propter Amorem Dei'

* Paul Gragl, 'Cedric Marti, Framing a Convention Community: Supranational Aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights'

Monday, 3 October 2022

Updated Factsheet on Mass Surveillance and the ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights has published a revised version of its factsheet on Mass Surveillance. This newest update of September 2022 includes the leading cases ranging from the classic 1970s landmark judgment in Klass and others v Germany to the 
Haščák v. Slovakia case of this Summer. It also indicates pending applications on the issue.

All factsheets, on a wide range of issues, can be found here.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Introducing Our New Assistant Editor

Dear readers of the ECHR Blog, we are very pleased to inform you that the editorial team of our blog will be expanded. As of this week, Matilda Rados is joining us as assistant editor.
Matilda Rados is junior lecturer in international law and human rights at Utrecht University and editor in chief of the Utrecht Journal of International and European Law. She is currently coaching the Utrecht University team of the Helga Pedersen Moot Court Competition. Matilda specializes in the ECHR and transitional justice.
We are very happy to add Matilda to this blog's editorial team. Together we will run the blog, add new items and can be approached for any ECHR-related conference announcements, publications, etc. Matilda, welcome on board! 
Kind wishes, Antoine Buyse and Kushtrim Istrefi

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

New Court Vice-Presidents and Section Presidents

The election of the Court's new President yesterday entitled a reshuffling of a number off other key functions within the European Court of Human Rights. In the same plenary meeting yesterday, the Court's judges elected amongst themselves 
two new Vice-Presidents and two Section Presidents of the Court. The two new Vice-Presidents are Georges Ravarani, judge in respect of Luxembourg, and Marko Bošnjak, judge in respect of Slovenia. The two new Section Presidents are Pere Pastor Vilanova, judge in respect of Andorra, and judge Arnfinn Bårdsen, judge in respect of Norway. These judges will take up their duties on 1 November. Good luck to all of them! The full composition of the European Court of Human Rights can be found here.

Monday, 19 September 2022

Siofra O'Leary New President of the Court

Today, the European Court of Human Rights has elected Síofra O’Leary, judge in respect of  Ireland, as its new President. Síofra O’Leary is the very first female President since the creation of the European Court of Human Rights. 

She joined the Court in 2015 and became section president as well as vice-president of the Court at the start of this current year. After having studied law in Ireland in the 1980s, judge O'Leary wrote and defended her PhD at the European University Institute in Florence and subsequently was connected to universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. For the almost two decades before joining the Strasbourg Court, she worked in European Union Law at the sister Court in Luxembourg, where she was Référendaire, Chef de Cabinet and Head of Unit. With this strong previous background in EU law and her extensive experience on the Convention, she might be the perfect fit for the era that may, if negotiations this time go well, lead to the generations-long-awaited accession of the EU to the ECHR. Who knows what the future will bring.

Judge O’Leary will succeed the Court's current President Robert Spano  on 1 November 2022. Good luck to the Court's new President!

Friday, 16 September 2022

Russia No Longer a Party to the ECHR as of Today

Today, 16 September 2002, presents a sad landmark: the Russian Federation ceases to be a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Exactly half a year has passed since Russia was excluded from the Council of Europe following its invasion of Ukraine. 

And even if the European Court of Human Rights still is competent to deal with applications against Russia concerning actions or omissions occurring up until today, it cannot be denied that this is a huge loss: the protective umbrella, even if it was not fully able to protect people against human rights violations, will no longer be there. As the picture shows, a huge territory now falls outside the geographical scope of the ECHR. It can no longer be said, as many of us teaching on the Convention were used to, that the ECHR applies from Reyjavik to Vladivostok. Much more importantly, more than 140 million people can no longer turn to the European Court of Human Rights, nor invoke the ECHR in domestic courts, for any new violations of the Convention.

And of course, there are currently still 17,450 applications against Russia   pending before the Court. And Russia also has a continuing legal obligation to still implement past judgments as well as those following from these applications, but the practical prospects seem dim. The same goes for cooperation with the Committee of Ministers. All of this in spite of the words that mean to inspire some small sense of hope from the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, who also called for a halt to the war and to suppression in Russia itself: 

'The Council of Europe will continue to support and engage with human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society in the Russian Federation. Our hope is that, one day, Russian citizens will once again be able to enjoy the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights.' 

The European Court for its part took formal notice earlier this month of the fact that the office of a judge in respect of the Russian Federation also ceases to exist as of today. See also our earlier guest post on what could happen with the pending cases here.

Let us hope that one day the situation will have changed for the positive again so that the ECHR will again protect all people within the Russian Federation too. And for all those suffering from the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Committee of Minsters re-affirmed yesterday in a decision that there should be no impunity for the crimes committed there. For now, 16 September 2002 stands as a sad day for human rights.

Friday, 9 September 2022

New Book on Environmental Rights and the European Court

Natalia Kobylarz (Senior lawyer at the registry of the European Court of Human Rights) and Evadne Grant (Associate Lecturer at the University of the West of England) have co-edited and just published the book, which is also a special issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, entitled Human Rights and the Planet. The Future of Environmental Human Rights in the European Court of Human Rights, with Edward Elgar. This is the abstract:

'Adopted in the aftermath of the Second World War and implemented as a ‘living instrument’, the European Convention on Human Rights has, over the past 70 years, shown remarkable adaptability to changing circumstances through the evolutive jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. While the Court has already demonstrated its willingness to address new challenges to human rights arising from environmental damage and climate change, growing scientific evidence and mounting public demand for action have accelerated the need for more fundamental engagement. This timely book – also a Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment – brings into sharp relief the specific challenges faced by the Court in addressing the human rights impacts of the interlocking environmental and climate crises.

Leading scholars and practitioners, including the President of the European Court of Human Rights, provide important insights into current thinking about environmental human rights in different jurisdictions and ways in which the European Court could adapt its principles and practice in light of the evolving international environmental human rights corpus iuris.

Drawing together theoretical insights and practice-led commentary, the contributions to this important book will be of interest to human rights and environmental law scholars, practitioners, students and policy makers.'

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

MOOC on ECHR Starts Again on 7 September

Utrecht University's free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the ECHR is starting again this week, on 7 September. Registration is open now! To enroll, please go to the Coursera platform.

The MOOC entitled 'Human Rights for Open Societies - An introduction into the ECHR' is taught by myself (Antoine Buyse) and my Utrecht University colleagues professor Janneke Gerards and Claire Loven. This is the abstract of our six-week course:

'Human rights are under pressure in many places across the globe. Peaceful protests are violently quashed. Voting is tampered with. And minorities are often excluded from decision-making. All of this threatens the ideal of an open society in which each of us can be free and participate equally. A solid protection of human rights is needed for an open society to exist and to flourish. But it is often an uphill battle to work towards that ideal. Equip yourself and learn more about what human rights are and how they work. 

In this course, we will introduce you to one of the world’s most intricate human rights systems: the European Convention on Human Rights. You will see when and how people can turn to the European Court of Human Rights to complain about human rights violations. You will learn how the Court tries to solve many of the difficult human rights dilemmas of today. We will look, amongst other things, at the freedom of expression and demonstration, the right to vote, and the prohibition of discrimination. And we will address the rights of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups. And, of course, we will see whether it is possible to restrict rights and if so under what conditions. You will even encounter watchdogs and ice cream in this course. We invite you to follow us on a journey of discovery into the European Convention!'

Please watch this short introduction video to get an impression:

Friday, 2 September 2022

New Book on Effective Domestic Remedies and the European Court of Human Rights

Michael Reiertsen has published the monograph Effective Domestic Remedies and the European Court of Human Rights: Applications of the ECHR Article 13 with Cambridge University Press. Here is the abstract:

'In Malone v. UK (Plenary 1984), the right to an effective domestic remedy in the European Convention on Human Rights Article 13 was famously described as one of the most obscure clauses in the Convention. Since then, the European Court of Human Rights has reinforced the scope and application of the right. Through an analysis of virtually all of the Court's judgments concerning Article 13, the book exhaustively accounts for the development and current scope and content of the right. The book also provides normative recommendations on how the Court could further develop the right, most notably how it could be a tool to regulate the relationship between domestic and international protection of human rights. In doing so, the book situates itself within larger debates on the enforcement of the entire Convention such as the principle of subsidiarity and the procedural turn in the Court's case law.'

Monday, 29 August 2022

Conference on Effective Application of ECHR in Areas of Conflict in Europe

On 1 September, the Irish Centre for Human Rights and the School of Law at NUI Galway are hosting a conference on the topic of Lighting the Shade: Effective Application of ECHR in Areas of Conflict in Europe. The conference will take place in person but will be streamed live.

The event will examine the practice of the Council of Europe’s human rights system in European territories where the Council of Europe mechanisms cannot function freely and effectively from both normative and operational perspectives. Speakers will consider how the system might be better leveraged to improve the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights throughout Europe.

The Conference is being organised within in the framework of Ireland's Presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, and will feature influential speakers from the Council of Europe, governments, courts, civil society, and academia.

The full programme and registration link can be accessed here.

Friday, 26 August 2022

Lawyers' Associations Now Also Explicitly Allowed to Make Rule 9 Submissions

The Council of Europe's communications department has reported a small but significant change in the practice surrounding the supervision of implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Under the so-called Rule 9 of the Rules of the Committee of Ministers for the supervision of the execution of judgments and of the terms of friendly settlements, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Non-Governmental Organisations are allowed to make submissions. These rules have now apparently been updated (although not yet visible on the website) to make explicit that, in the words of the communcations department "bar associations, law societies and other lawyers’ groups can make formal submissions concerning the implementation of #ECHR judgments." One can imagine this may be of importance in any issues related to Article 6 ECHR cases on fair trial rights ,of course, but also much more broadly - a good development.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

New Book on the Right to Property in the ECHR

Douglas Maxwell has published the monograph The Human Right to Property. A Practical Approach to Article 1 of Protocol No.1 to the ECHR with Hart Publishing. This is the abstract:

'This book provides a highly detailed, practical analysis of Article 1 of Protocol No.1 (A1P1) and its implications in the United Kingdom. A1P1 prescribes a qualified right to the peaceful enjoyment of 'possessions'. This right corresponds to a negative limit on legislators and public authorities to rationalise interferences with possessions and, where necessary, to strike a fair balance, often requiring just compensation.

Through lively and rigorous commentary on the latest advances made by the European Court of Human Rights and domestic courts, The Human Right to Property enriches current understanding of the peaceful enjoyment of property since the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998. Exploring the theoretical and political foundations of A1P1, the book guides the reader through the relevant case law from the earliest developments in Strasbourg to the present day. The Human Right to Property concludes that the most significant impacts of A1P1 are that it: forces States to justify interferences; limits radical redistributions of property; and casts a wider shadow over legislative choice and public body decision-making.'