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.'