Corte Europea de Derechos Humanos
30 January 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you all to this press conference, which by tradition is held before the formal opening of our judicial year. The solemn hearing marking this event will take place tomorrow. As has been the case for a number of years, it will be preceded by a seminar, which this year is entitled “Implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: a shared judicial responsibility” – a subject which in my view is especially important.
I would add that our guest of honour will be Mr Andreas Voβkuhle, President of the German Federal Constitutional Court.
This week I have received Mr Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers.
Since this morning and throughout tomorrow, I will also be receiving a large number of presidents of the highest courts of our member States. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Last week the Judicial Year 2014 officially started in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights. In what has become an anuual tradiiton, the Court’s President, Dean Spielmann looked back at the past year, highlighting the most important developments. The most remarkable aspect is probably that the Court’s backlog has decreased again, now falling below the symbolic number of 100,000 (in September 2011, for example, the backlog was still 160,000 cases. The good news is partly due to internal reforms, such as the single-judge system and the creation of a new section of the Court dedicated specfically to the filtering of cases. In addition, the staff capacity has been temporarily increased to deal with the blacklog by voluntary extra contributions of state parties to the Convention. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Whole-life sentences can still be imposed on serious and serial offenders despite objections from the European court of human rights, the court of appeal has been told.
Existing provisions for considering inmates for release on compassionate grounds are sufficient to meet Strasbourg’s demand for intermittent reviews of whole-life sentences, James Eadie QC said.
His comments came in applications before the court of appeal concerning the prison terms of two murderers, which have been seen as a test of whether parliament or the ECHR constitutes the ultimate legal authority. A judgment by the Strasbourg court last year ruled that whole-life terms were a breach of human rights because they did not allow for any prospect of release or of the sentence being reviewed. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
On March 6-7, 2014, the University of Iceland Human Rights Institute will hold a conference on “Shifting Centres of Gravity in European Human Rights Protection,” in Reykjavík. The program is here. Here’s the idea:
The protection of human rights in Europe is at crossroads. The European Union (EU) is increasingly prioritising fundamental rights, for example by giving the Charter of Fundamental Rights the status of primary law and through the treaty-based obligation of accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Accession, once it takes place, expands the mandate of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and is likely to bring about fundamental structural changes to the system of human rights protection in Europe, as decisions of the ECtHR will be binding on the EU and its courts. However, pulling in a somewhat different direction than developments in EU law, the political momentum for bringing the responsibility for the protection of ECHR rights ‘home’ to the member states has been growing ever stronger. This repositioning of the centre of gravity of human rights protection is beginning to take shape in two new Protocols to the ECHR, which emphasise the principle of subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation enjoyed by the member states (Protocol No. 15), and introduce a preliminary reference procedure under the ECHR (Protocol No. 16). Finally, and in light of the crisis created by the overwhelming case-load of the ECtHR, the Brighton Declaration of 2010 has put the long-term review of the Court’s fundamental nature and role on the agenda before the end of 2019. Overall, therefore, the future of human rights in Europe faces major structural changes which could have significant consequences for access to justice and the quality of protection provided to victims of human rights violations.
This conference will explore these themes from the perspective that current developments call for a critical assessment of classical approaches to the three-dimensional relationship between the ECHR, EU law and national law; of the theories and tools utilised to navigate this relationship; and of the effects current developments may have on victims and vulnerable groups.
European Court of Human Rights Upholds State Immunity in Case Involving Allegations of Torture – Jones v United Kingdom
Today, a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has handed down its judgment in the long awaited case of Jones and others v. United Kingdom (application no. 34356/06 & 40528/06). The case concerned the UK House of Lord’s decision ( UKHL 26) to accord state immunity in civil proceedings brought in the UK, against Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabian officials, by British nationals who alleged they had been tortured in Saudi Arabia. The European Court of Human Rights has today upheld that decision of the House of Lords. The chamber of the Court held by six votes to one that the granting of immunity to Saudi Arabia and its state officials in civil proceedings reflected generally recognised rules of public international law. Therefore, dismissal of the case by the English courts on grounds of state immunity did not amount to a violation of Article 6 (1) of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees a right of access to court. In particular, the Chamber held that there was noaccess to court.
According to the Chamber, while there was some emerging support at the international level in favour of a special rule or exception in public international law in cases concerning civil claims for torture lodged a state’s right to immunity could not be circumvented by suing named officials instead. The decision picks up from where the International Court of Justice left off in Jurisdictional Immunities (Germany v. Italy) case in deciding that allegations of violations of jus cogens rules does not mean that state immunity becomes inapplicable. However, the European Court of Human Rights has also stated that in the light of the current developments in this area of public international law, this was a matter which needed to be kept under review by Contracting States.
EJIL:Talk! and Opinio Juris will be providing reactions to this decision over the coming days. Here on EJIL:Talk! Lorna McGregor (Essex University), who worked on the case while she was Legal Adviser at Redress (an NGO that helps torture survivors), and Philippa Webb (Kings College London) will discuss the case. Over at Opinio Juris, Chimène Keitner, Bill Dodge (both at the University of California, Hastings College of Law) and Ingrid Wuerth (Vanderbilt) will provide commentary from across the pond. All of them have done brilliant work on immunity and all have written influential pieces on the relationship between immunity and human rights. A stellar line up indeed!
What is an ‘absolute right’? Deciphering Absoluteness in the Context of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Natasa Mavronicola, PhD Candidate in Law, University of Cambridge (email@example.com). I am grateful to Professor David Feldman for his invaluable guidance and to Dr Stephanie Palmer, Dr Roger O’Keefe and the anonymous referees for their valuable and constructive comments.
The answer to the question of what it means to say that a right is absolute is often taken for granted, yet still sparks doubt and scepticism. This article investigates absoluteness further, bringing rights theory and the judicial approach on an absolute right together. A theoretical framework is set up that addresses two distinct but potentially related parameters of investigation: the first is what I have labelled the ‘applicability’ criterion, which looks at whether and when the applicability of the standard referred to as absolute can be displaced, in other words whether other considerations can justify its infringement; the second parameter, which I have labelled the ‘specification’ criterion, explores the degree to which and bases on which the content of the standard characterised as absolute is specified.
This theoretical framework is then used to assess key principles and issues that arise in the Strasbourg Court’s approach to Article 3. It is suggested that this analysis allows us to explore both the distinction and the interplay between the two parameters in the judicial interpretation of the right and that appreciating the significance of this is fundamental to the understanding of and discourse on the concept of an absolute right.
Source: Human Rights Law Review
The newest issue of Global Constitutionalism (Vol. 2, Issue 2, July 2013) includes an article on the margin of appreciation and environmental law. The article, by Chris Hilson of the University of Reading, is entitled ‘The margin of appreciation, domestic irregularity and domestic court rulings in ECHR environmental jurisprudence: Global legal pluralism in action’. This is the abstract:
Global legal pluralism is concerned, inter alia, with the growing multiplicity of normative legal orders and the ways in which these different orders intersect and are accommodated with one another. The different means used for accommodation will have a critical bearing on how individuals fare within them. This article examines the recent environmental jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights to explore some of the means of reaching an accommodation between national legal orders and the European Convention. Certain types of accommodation – such as the margin of appreciation given to states by the Court – are well known. In essence, such mechanisms of legal pluralism raise a presumptive barrier which generally works for the state and against the individual rights-bearer. Leer el resto de esta entrada »