Monday, 15 December 2014

Updated Court Admissibility Guide Available

Earlier this month, the Court presented an updated version of its Practical Guide on Admissibility Criteria. This third edition is updated with case-law until 1 January 2014 and includes the procedural conditions which became stricter on that first day of 2014. The Guide is also available in hard copy with Wolf Legal Publishers. As with the previous editions, it will eventually be translated in a large number of state party languages (see for current translations of the second edition here). The need for such a compilation remains pressing: still the large majority of the applications reaching Strasbourg is dismissed for failing to meet the admissibility criteria (92% in 2013). This is not only a setback for those applying, but also leads to an enormous amount of extra (and for a large part unnecessary) work for the European Court. No wonder then that the Court's current President Dean Spielmann said the following at the launch of this third edition: "In spite of the important reduction in the number of pending cases over the last years, the Court still receives far too many applications that should never have been brought as they fail to meet these various requirements. Practitioners should study this Practical Guide carefully before deciding to bring a case. By so doing they will make an important contribution to the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights.” There indeed is a link between sound legal advice by national lawyers and the workload of the Court. This makes the translation into the main languages of countries from which most applications stem all the more urgent. This is the book's description:

As of 1 November 2014, about 78,000 applications were pending before a judicial formation of the Court. Although the Court’s docket has been reduced by nearly 50% over the last three years, this still represents a very significant number of cases to be brought before an international tribunal and continues to threaten the effectiveness of the right of petition enshrined in the Convention. The vast majority of cases (92% in 2013) will be rejected by the Court on one of the grounds of inadmissibility. Such cases clog up the Court’s docket and obstruct the examination of more deserving cases where the admissibility requirements have been satisfied and which may concern serious allegations of human-rights violations.The 2010 Interlaken Conference on the reform of the Court called upon the “States Parties and the Court to ensure that comprehensive and objective information is provided to potential applicants on the Convention and the Court’s case-law, in particular on the application procedures and admissibility criteria”. The Court’s first response to the call was to prepare a Practical Guide on Admissibility Criteria which clearly sets out the rules and case-law concerning admissibility. This third edition covers case-law up to 1 January 2014 and the stricter procedural conditions for applying to the Court which came into force on that date. Practitioners and prospective applicants should study this Practical Guide carefully before deciding to bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

New Book on the Convention as a Living Instrument

Professor Andreas Zimmermann of the University of Potsdam and director of its Human Rights Centre has just published an edited volume on the European Convention as a Living Instrument. The German-language book is entitled 60 Jahre Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention – Die Konvention als "living instrument" (Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag 2014). The book, both available as hard copy and as e-book, compiles the contributions and comments made at a conference in Potsdam on 60 years ECHR, and includes contributions on dynamic interpretation of the Convention, on the European constitutional order, and on the Committee of Ministers (full table of contents here). This is the abstract (in German):

2013 jährte sich das Inkrafttreten der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention zum 60. Mal. Seit ihrem Bestehen hat die Konvention insbesondere durch den auf ihrer Grundlage gegründeten Gerichtshof den Schutz der Menschenrechte in Europa wesentlich gestärkt. Mit ihren mittlerweile 47 Vertragsparteien ist sie zu einem gesamteuropäischen Grundrechtsschutzsystem geworden, dessen Akzeptanz sich nicht zuletzt an den in den vergangenen Jahren rasant gestiegenen Fallzahlen zeigt. Dennoch steht die EMRK auch in der Zukunft vor besonderen Herausforderungen. Dieser Band stellt den Versuch einer Bilanz der vergangenen 60 Jahre dar und enthält die Beiträge der Vortragenden des Workshops „60 Jahre Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention – die Konvention als ‚living instrument‘“, der anlässlich des Jubiläums durch das MenschenRechtsZentrum der Universität Potsdam veranstaltet wurde. Schwerpunktmäßig beschäftigen sich die Beiträge mit der Rechtsfortbildung durch den EGMR, insbesondere mittels einer dynamischen Auslegung der Konvention, der konstitutionellen Dimension der EMRK, der Durchsetzung seiner Urteile sowie dem Reformbedarf aufgrund gestiegener Arbeitsbelastung.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Fear Speech and Conflict Escalation

As a short excursion away from the ECHR, permit me to draw your attention to an article I just published in the Human Rights Quarterly. In the article I introduce the notion of "fear speech" as a complement to the well-known notion of "hate speech". I have endeavored to connect insights from the field of conflict studies to the way in which legal scholars and practitioners deal with freedom of expression in situations of risks of violence. The article is entitled "Words of Violence: “Fear Speech,” or How Violent Conflict Escalation Relates to the Freedom of Expression" and was published in no. 4 of vol. 36 (November 2014). This is the abstract:

The limits of the freedom of expression are a perennial discussion in human rights discourse. This article focuses on identifying yardsticks to establish the boundaries of freedom of expression in cases where violence is a risk. It does so by using insights from the social sciences on the escalation of violent conflict. By emphasizing the interaction between violence and discourse, and its effect on antagonisms between groups, it offers an interdisciplinary perspective on an ongoing legal debate. It introduces the notion of “fear speech” and argues that it may be much more salient in this context than hate speech.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Book on ECHR and Transitions

Dr. Inga Švarca has published the book 'The Procedure of the European Court of Human Rights Regarding Countries in Transition. The ECtHR’s Transitional Justice Cases against Latvia', which is also her PhD dissertation obtained at the University of Hamburg. Beyond being a case study of Latvia in transiton, it also has a lot of general insights to offer on transitional justice and the ECHR. This is the book's summary: 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all post-communist states in Europe were countries in transition facing specific judicial problems when they acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights.

These new Member States applied various transitional justice tools resulting in numerous applications examined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Nevertheless, the ECtHR has not (yet) followed a clear and foreseeable methodical approach to deal with these unique and complicated cases in an equal manner.

This analysis comes up with suggestions how to deal methodically with the changing role of the ECtHR and the challenges created by countries in transition with their manifold legacies. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

New ECHR Readings

This Autumn presents a remarkable range of ECHR-related publications in academic journals and books. Please find below an extensive selection:

The newest issue of the Journal of International Criminal Justice (Vol. 12, no. 4, 2014) includes:

* Helen Keller and Corina Heri, 'Enforced Disappearance and the European Court of Human Rights: A ‘Wall of Silence’, Fact-Finding Difficulties and States as ‘Subversive Objectors’'
* Corina Heri, 'Enforced Disappearance and the European Court of Human Rights’ ratione temporis Jurisdiction: A Discussion of Temporal Elements in Janowiec and Others v. Russia'

*  Chimène I. Keitner, 'Jones and Others v. United Kingdom', International Legal Materials (Vol. 53, no. 3, 2014). 

* Susana Sanz Caballero, 'How Could It Go So Wrong? Reformatio in Peius before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in the Case Janowiec and Others v. Russia (or Polish Collective Memory Deceived in Strasbourg)', Polish Yearbook of International Law, vol. 33 (2013) pp. 259-278.  

* M. Rohan, 'Refugee family reunification rights: a basis in the European Court of Human Rights' family 
reunification jurisprudence', Chicago Journal of International Law, vol. 15, no. 1 (2014) pp. 347-375.

* K. Dzehtsiarou and D. Coffey, 'Legitimacy and independence of international tribunals: an analysis of the European Court of Human Rights', Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, vol. 37, no. 2 (2014) pp. 271-322. 

* E. Brems, 'Face veil bans in the European Court of Human Rights: the importance of empirical findings', Journal of Law and Policy, vol. 22, no. 2 (2013/14) pp. 517-552.

* D. Fenwick, ‘Abortion jurisprudence’ at Strasbourg: deferential, avoidant and normatively neutral?',  Legal Studies, vol. 34, no. 2 (2014) pp. 214-241.

* K. Dzehtsiarou and N. O'Meara, 'Advisory jurisdiction and the European Court of Human Rights: a magic bullet for dialogue and docket-control?', Legal Studies, vol. 34, no. 3 (2014) pp. 444-468.

* C. Ryngaert, 'Jones v United Kingdom: the European Court of Human Rights restricts individual accountability for torture', Utrecht Journal of International and European Law, vol. 30, no. 79 (2014) pp. 47-50.

* Uladzislau Belavusau, 'Experts in hate speech cases: Towards a higher standard of proof in Strasbourg?', in: Lukasz Gruszczynski and Wouter Werner (eds.), Deference in International Courts and Tribunals

The new issue of the New Journal of European Criminal Law (vol. 5, no. 2, 2014) includes:

* E. Thoonen and W. Duijst, 'Suicide in detention in the light of the Human Rights Convention', pp. 
121-148.
* T. Decaigny, 'Inquisitorial and adversarial expert examinations in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights', pp. 149-166.
* J. Boucht, 'Civil asset forfeiture and the presumption of innocence under Article 6(2) ECHR', pp. 221-255.

New articles in the online International Journal on Human Rights include:

Ronagh J.A. McQuigg, ’The European Court of Human Rights and domestic violence: Valiuliene v. Lithuania’,
* Gregor Puppinck and Claire De La Hougue, ‘The right to assisted suicide in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights’.

Finally, please find in the menu on the right the link to a European-wide prize question, which is set up by the network of European Young Academies of Sciences - an exciting quest to think creatively about the future of Europe. Click on the image for more information - everyone is welcome to participate! I have the honor of serving in the jury.

Friday, 17 October 2014

ECHR Articles in Newest NQHR

The newest issue (no. 3 of 2014) of SIM's own Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights includes no less than three ECHR-related contributions: two articles and the column are dedicated to the ECHR:

* Column:  Lourdes Peroni, 'On Religious and Cultural Equality in European Human Rights Convention Law'

And the two articles:

* Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, 'The Involvement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Implementation of its Judgments: Recent Developments under Article 46 ECHR'

* Hubert Smekal and Katarína Šipulová, 'DH v Czech Republic Six Years Later: On the Power of an International Human Rights Court to Push through Systemic Change'

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Seminar on ECHR National Counter-Dynamics

On 30 and 31 October the universities of Antwerp and Leuven are co-organising a seminar entitled 'Shifting the Convention System: Counter-dynamics at the National Level' in Antwerp. According to the organisers, the seminar "aims to map out to what extent criticism on the European Court of Human Rights and its case law is being translated into counter-dynamics at the political or judicial level. The focus is not solely put on countries that are known to have highly critical voices. Rather, the seminar will explore whether the translation of criticism into (the demand for) concrete changes in the dynamics between national fundamental rights protection and the Convention system is a pan-European reality or merely limited to a few countries. To enable comparison, the country reports presented at the seminar are based on a questionnaire drafted by the organisers." A very interesting endeavour as we mostly only hear about criticism in a few countries or from a few voices. This makes this mapping exercise all the more useful, to avoid over- or under-estimation the problem. This is the programme of the seminar:

Programme Thursday 30 October 2014

13.30 Registration
13.50 Welcome address by Patricia Popelier (UAntwerp)

Session 1: Shifting dynamics (Chair: Patricia Popelier)
14.00 Sarah Lambrecht (UAntwerp & Belgian Constitutional Court)
Overarching Strategies
14.20 Eva Brems (UGent)
The Impact of Counter-dynamics on the Legitimacy of the ECtHR
14.40 Koen Lemmens (KULeuven)
Criticising the ECtHR or Misunderstanding the Dynamics of Human Rights Protection?
15.00 Discussion
15.30 Coffee break

Session 2: Strong Voices of Criticism vs Strasbourg Friendly Voices
(Chair: Judge Paul Lemmens)
15.50 Roger Masterman (University of Durham) - UK
16.10 Tilmann Altwicker (University of Basel) - Switzerland
16.30 Janneke Gerards (Radboud University Nijmegen) - Netherlands
16.50 Patricia Popelier (UAntwerp) - Belgium
17.10 Discussion
17.40 Reception
19.00 Conference dinner with speakers

Programme Friday 31 October 2014

Session 3: Strong Judicial Review Mandate vs Weak Judicial Review Mandate
(Chair: Catherine Van de Heyning)
9.15 Katharina Pabel (Johannes Kepler University of Linz) - Germany
9.35 Giuseppe Martinico (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) - Italy
9.55 Anna-Sara Lind (Uppsala University) - Sweden
10.15 Discussion
10.45 Coffee break

Session 4: Criticism on the ECtHR, an East and Central-European Perspective
(Chair: Koen Lemmens)
11.05 Joseph Marko (University of Graz) - Bosnia and Herzegovina
11.25 Lubomir Majercik (Czech Constitutional Court) - Czech Republic
11.45 Armen Mazmanyan (Center for Constitutional Studies Yerevan) - Russia
12.05 Discussion
12.35 Closing words by Catherine Van de Heyning (UAntwerp)
12.50 Lunch

For information on how to register, see here.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

News from SIM

Very happy to inform you that as of this week I have been appointed full professor of human rights and director of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM)! Last week was the formal hand-over ceremony at the occasion of the annual SIM Peter Baehr Lecture (delivered this year by Sir Nigel Rodley), where my esteemed predecessor, professor Jenny Goldschmidt, handed over the baton to me. I feel deeply honoured by having been appointed to this new position and am looking forward to cooperating with the human rights research community across the globe to continue SIM's mission of human rights research and education. In addition, I will of course endeavor to keep up with the challenge of hosting the ECHR Blog. ECHR-related news will be on here again next week (and forgive me for this exceptional detour to something not ECHR-related, dear readers!).

Monday, 22 September 2014

New Book on Article 6 ECHR - Fair Trial Rights

Ryan Goss, lecturer in Law at the Australian National University in Canberra, has written a book which critically analyses what is probably the most litigated right in the Convention: Article 6 ECHR, the right to a fair trial. The book, entitled 'Criminal Fair Trial Rights - Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights', has been published with Hart Publishing. It takes an interesting cross-cutting approach and in doing so deviates from standard handbooks on the issue. This is the abstract: 

"The Article 6 fair trial rights are the most heavily-litigated Convention rights before the European Court of Human Rights, generating a large and complex body of case law. With this book, Goss provides an innovative and critical analysis of the European Court's Article 6 case law.

The category of 'fair trial rights' includes many component rights. The existing literature tends to chart the law with respect to each of these component rights, one by one. This traditional approach is useful, but it risks artificially isolating the case law in a series of watertight compartments.

This book takes a complementary but different approach. Instead of analysing the component rights one by one, it takes a critical look at the case law through a number of 'cross-cutting' problems and themes common to all or many of the component rights. For example: how does the Court view its role in Article 6 cases? When will the Court recognise an implied right in Article 6? How does the Court assess Article 6 infringements, and when will the public interest justify an infringement? 

The book's case-law-driven approach allows Goss to demonstrate that the European Court's criminal fair trial rights jurisprudence is marked by considerable uncertainty, inconsistency, and incoherence."

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

New Book on EU Accession to ECHR

The Council of Europe itself has now published a book on the ever-continuing story of the European Union's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The book, entitled 'The accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights', was authored by Johan Callewaert of Leuven University. It is available both in print version and in PDF, both for sale through the Council of Europe's website. This is the abstract:

"Provided for under the Treaty of Lisbon, the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights is destined to be a landmark in European legal history because it will finally make it possible for individuals and undertakings to apply to the European Court of Human Rights for review of the acts of European Union institutions, which unquestionably play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. After nearly three years of negotiations, a draft agreement on European Union accession was adopted on 5 April 2013. In the light of the draft agreement, this publication offers a concise analysis of the reasons for European Union accession to the Convention, the means by which this is to be achieved and the effects it will have."