Costas Paraskeva, a human rights lawyer in Cyprus

Kader Kadem | 10:14 | 7Comments
The European Court of Human Rights has become a “victim of on going reformsThis week a new book on the relationship between the European Court's reforms and a better domestic implementation of the Convention has been published by Intersentia. Costas Paraskeva, a human rights lawyer in Cyprus, has written 'The Relationship Between Domestic Implementation of the ECHR and the Ongoing Reforms of ECtHR' based on his PhD thesis defended at London Metropolitan University.

This is the abstract: The European Court of Human Rights has become a “victim of on going reforms”. Continuous efforts to streamline and reinforce the system have proved inadequate in managing the challenge of its ever-increasing caseload. The consensus is that further reforms to the European Convention on Human Rights mechanisms are necessary in order to cope with the serious influx of cases from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

This book analyses the set of five Recommendations referred to in the 2004 Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to encourage member states to take effective domestic steps in ensuring appropriate protection of the Convention rights at the domestic level, in full conformity with the principle of subsidiarity. It also traces and evaluates the impact of the Convention in the domestic legal orders of Cyprus and Turkey and assesses, comparatively, the effective implementation of the May 2004 Recommendations in these two member states.

This book demonstrates how efforts to secure the survival and effective operation of the Court by reducing the ever increasing number of individual applications, must primarily be undertaken at national level so that the burden to comply with the Convention is carried by the member states in the first instance. The 2004 Recommendations, which address the source of the problem, are appropriate prescriptions for a healthy future and constitute a technical vehicle for implementing the Convention in the domestic legal orders of member states. These Recommendations constitute guidelines stemming directly from the Convention and are therefore invaluable in assisting member states in the pursuit to improve the protection of human rights “at home”.

Identity Cards ECHR

Kader Kadem | 10:13 | 0 Comments
Yesterday, the Court ruled in the case of Sinan Isik v. Turkey on the mentioning of religious affiliation on identity cards. Mr Isik was a member of the Alevi community, which is seen by some as a part of Islam and by others as a separate religion. His request to change the religion on his identity card from 'Islam' to Alevi was refused by the authorities. Only since 2006 a new legal provision allowed citizens to ask for a change of religion on their identity cards or even to have the entry left blank.

The Court reiterated that the freedom of religion (article 9 ECHR) also included a negative aspect, including the rigth not having to manifest one's religion or beliefs. The core of the issue for the Court was not so much the refusal to register the applicant as Alevi, but more broadly the very fact that he either had to indicate his religion or formally ask for the religion box to be left empty. That in itself, in the Court's view, violated the Convention. It seems from the judgment that this goes not only for identity cards, but also for civil registers.

The high courts to the European Integration Project

Kader Kadem | 10:13 | 0 Comments
European standards in terms of high judicial institutions to strengthen their role within the project dates between 15-17 March 2010 Round Table Meeting will be held in the Swiss Hotel.
At the meeting the European Convention on Human Rights 5 right to liberty and security specified in Article 6 with matters specified in Article right to fair trial will be discussed.

Banksy glastonbury police search

Kader Kadem | 10:12 | 0 Comments
Just a very short notification to report that the Court decided today that the United Kingdom's stop and search powers for the police are too wide and that no adequate safeguards against abuse exist. The Terrorism Act 2000 permits any uniformed police officer to stop and search anyone for items which could be used for terrorism, even in the absence of any reasonable suspicion. These powers are used thousands of times a year. In the case of Gillan and Quinton - about a journalist and a protester on their way to an anti-armsfair protest being stopped and searched in 2003 - the Court held unanimously that Article 8 had been violated.

The photo is of a painting by the famous graffiti artist Banksy.

Bosnian Constitution Contravenes ECHR

Kader Kadem | 10:11 | 0 Comments
Just before Christmas the European Court of Human Rights issued a very important Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The two men complained of their ineligibility to stand for election to the House of Peoples and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina because of their Roma and Jewish origin. The Bosnian Constittuion, which was drafted as part of the very complex Dayton Peace Agreements in 1995, confines the possiblity to be elected to these top state institutions to those who declare themselves to belong to the Serb, Croat or Bosniac (i.e. Muslim) people. So called 'others', to whom Sejdić and Finci themselves belong can be elected in parliament, but not in the two aforementioned institutions.

Violation of Article 10 ECHR

Kader Kadem | 10:10 | 1Comments
Dear readers, first of all a very happy and good new year to all of you! The past year has seen this blog grow to over 70,000 pageviews in 2009 and I hope to continue the work in 2010. As a kick off, we start with the protection of journalistic sources. This Wednesday 6 January the Grand Chamber of the Court will hold a hearing in what may become a key case on the issue: Sanoma v. the Netherlands. In the earlier chamber judgment, a heavily divided Court did not find a violation of Article 10 ECHR.

Professor Dirk Voorhoof of Ghent University guest-posted on this earlier last year. Here is another guest post of his, on the recent case of Financial Times Ltd. and others v. the United Kingdom, in which the Court unanimously found a violation of the Convention in a case on the same kind of issue. Is it an indication of where the Grand Chamber may go? Who knows....
European Court of Human Rights rules unanimously in favour of strong protection of journalistic sources

by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University Belgium and Copenhagen University, Denmark.

New Procedure of Protocol 14

Kader Kadem | 10:10 | 0 Comments
Dear readers, at the end of this year a final post with a miscellany of issues. First, the Court's site offers a range of new features to make its case law more easily accessible. An important innovation is the translation of key judgments in over ten languages (to be found through HUDOC) More information on this can be found here. That same page also contains a host of links to online translated collections of case-law in many more languages by non-ECHR sites. Another great innovation is that it is now finally possible to search on HUDOC for judgments by the Grand Chamber, ordinary chambers and committees. Finally, a list of keywords to search HUDOC more effectively is upcoming. And for another way of keeping updated, several RSS feeds have been added here. All of this will hopefully help the often mentioned implementation of the ECHR at the national level.

Secondly, under the new Procedure of Protocol 14-Bis, the first judgments have been adopted by three-judge committees. This should pave the way for a more efficient handling of cases. Whereas until now, such committees could only declare cases inadmissible, they can now also issue judgments on the merits in cases dealing with issues on which there is well-estalbished case-law. In the first place, one can think here of repetitive judgments. the first of these judgments, Kressin v. Germany ( 21061/06) and Jesse v. Germany ( 10053/08) will be published online today and deal, not surprisingly perhaps, with complaints on the excessive length of judicial proceedings. The entry into force of that other Protocol, 14, might be very near, as the Council of Europe reports that the Russian Duma has agreed to resume the procedure for Protocol 14 ratification. See also the report of Julien Frisch, over at Watching Europe.

Thirdly, the newest issue of the Göttingen Journal of International Law (vol. 1, No. 3) has just been published and contains amongst others 'When Soering Went to IraqŠ: Problems of Jurisdiction, Extraterritorial Effect and Norm Conflicts in Light of the European Court of Human Rights Al-Saadoon Case', by Cornelia Janik and Thomas Kleinlein. This is the abstract:

In its admissibility decision in the Al-Saadoon case the ECtHR held that the United Kingdom had jurisdiction over the applicants, who had been arrested by British forces and kept in a British-run military prison in Iraq. Just before the respective mandate of the Security Council expired on 31 December 2008, the applicants were transferred to Iraqi custody at Iraqi request and thereby exposed to the risk of an unfair trial followed by capital punishment. The authors trace back the ECtHR's case law concerning the extraterritorial application of the Convention and establish patterns how the ECtHR and the UK Courts did cope in the past with international law norms potentially competing with the Convention.
Finally, for a case that could qualify as one of the funniest of the year, as a kind of Christmas treat from Strasbourg, I can recommend the admissibility decision in Friend and Countryside Alliance and others (Appl.nos 16072/06 and 27809/08) of last week. In this decision, the Court dismissed the complaints of a group of hunters and others about the British ban on hunting with hounds (on foxes and other animals). The Court held in this decision that a person's hunting grounds do not fall within the concept of home nor can the huntng community be seen as an ethnic community. The Court was not of the view that (para. 44) "that hunting amounts to a particular lifestyle which is so inextricably linked to the identity of those who practise it that to impose a ban on hunting would be to jeopardise the very essence of their identity."

I wish all of you a very good holiday season and an excellent 2010, with hopefully an improved human rights situation in Europe and around the world!

Interlaken next year on the reform

Kader Kadem | 10:09 | 0 Comments
The upcoming conference in Interlaken next year on the reform of the supervision of the ECHR is already yielding a range of preparatory documents. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has published a memorandum in which he gives his views. He points amongst others to the need to strengthen national supervision of human rights and specifically national monitoring by e.g. national human rights institutions. Not surprisingly the Commissioner also calls for more staff for his own office in order to make his own contribution to the ECHR supervisory system. In the past few years, the budget of the Council of Europe's institutions (apart from the Court) has indeed stagnated. Now that both attention and emphasis are being put more heavily on implementation of the Court's judgments, the enabling environment - as I would call it - of the Convention indeed needs reinforcement.

The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) in which all state parties are represented has now also made public its 'Opinion on the issues to be covered at the high-level Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights'. This document is probably the best indication of the issues to be addressed at Interlaken and also gives an insight in current thinking on the part of the states involved. It will, by the way, be the only intergovernmental contribution, to this conference, it is expected. Just to highlight a few points: the states seem to remain committed to the individual right of application. But further on in the document, an important proviso is added:

In the longer term, there lies the possibility that the Court might one day develop to have some degree of power to choose from amongst the applications it receives those that would receive judicial determination. The time is not yet ripe, however, to make specific proposals to this end.
It is also suggested that a system of fees might be introduced to reduce the number of clearly inadmissible applications. In this same context, the document mentions several options to make the filtering of applications more effective, such as:

(i) a new, separate body of judges within the Court, responsible for filtering;
(ii) additional judges appointed to the existing bench;
(iii) the discharge of certain judicial powers by members of the Registry;
(iv) at least in the short-term, until other solutions can be implemented, a rotating pool of judges taken from the existing bench.
The CDDH also calls upon the Court itself to be clear and coherent and "to take full accoonut of its subsidiary role" - is that a plea to revive a strong margin of appreciation application and in general to leave more to the state parties? One might question whether this way of handing responsibility back to national authorities will automatically strengthen human rights protection. In that sense, supervising human rights is not the same as raising children by giving them increased responsibilities. Caution is called for here.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has also drafted his contribution (dated 18 December) to Interlaken, which will soon be online on the Council of Europe's website.

Finally, on the NGO front, action is also being undertaken to make sure that the reforms will truly happen and more specifically will really strengthen the system of supervision. As I reported last week, there is a joint NGO statement. The drafting NGOs of this document are now calling for other NGOs, in as many ECHR state parties as possible, to endorse this document to make civil society's voice resound in the hills around Interlaken. NGOs who want to endorse the document or who have further questions about it, can contact the main drafters at Europeigoteam at .

Echr Articles

Kader Kadem | 10:09 | 0 Comments
The first issue of the 'New Journal of European Criminal Law' (a continuation of the Journal of European Criminal Law) has just been published and contains various ECHR-related articles:

* Editorial: Taxquet v Belgium, R v Ponting, Trials by Jury and a Homage to Neil MacCormick, by Scott Crosby;
* Survey of Instances of Non-Compliance with Interim Measures Adopted under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, by the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights;
* Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights Affecting Criminal Law/Criminal Procedure, by Richard Lang.

The entire issue can be accessed electronically here.


Kader Kadem | 10:08 | 1Comments
Publication: A 148 Title: Ciulla v. Italy Application No: 11152/84
Referred by: Commission
Date of reference by Commission: 15-07-1987
Date of Judgment: 22-02-1989
Mr. Ciulla was prosecuted between 1982 and 1986 for various drug offences. On 8 May 1984, during separate, but parallel "preventive" proceedings the Milan District Court, having regard to the fact that the applicant might abscond, ordered his arrest and detention pending a decision on an application for a compulsory residence order. When the District Court granted that application on 24 May, his detention immediately ended; the next day, the police took him to the place appointed for his compulsory residence.

Pan African solidarity with Haiti

Kader Kadem | 09:59 | 0 Comments
The earthquake that recently struck Haiti has caused unprecedented devastation and suffering to the country and its people. Wednesday's aftershock aggravated an already grave humanitarian crisis.

Across Africa, government, church, business and civil society leaders are mobilizing support for the people of Haiti. In South Africa, CIVICUS and its partners, African Monitor, Trust Africa, the Southern Africa Trust, Charity Aid Foundation (CAF) Southern Africa, the South African Red Cross Society; the National Welfare Forum; and Ivan May through 1485 Radio Today on 1484 AM in Jozi and through SADC (also DStv 169), the Synergos Institute, The NEPAD Business Foundation and the African Women's Foresight Network, have agreed to join what is known as the "Africa for Haiti Campaign" and to help in co-ordinating efforts.
The campaign has the support of Church, business and civil society leaders including Mrs Graça Machel, Archbishops Desmond Tutu, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Malusi Mpumlwana, Thabo Makgoba, and businessmen Trevor Ncube and Reuel Khoza.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a press conference at its offices in Houghton on 22 January where more details were provided about the "Africa for Haiti" Campaign.

The "Africa for Haiti" campaign will identify, in partnership with Haitian civil society organizations, initiatives in which it can assist. It also hopes to provide Africans from all walks of life an opportunity to demonstrate their collective solidarity and support for the people of Haiti thereby uniting Africans in compassion and giving.

Addressing the press conference Mrs Machel suggested that the "Africa for Haiti" campaign focuses its efforts on reconstruction in Haiti. The objective of this campaign is not to provide immediate relief but rather to contribute toward the medium to long-term reconstruction of communities in Haiti. As a result, it is estimated that fundraising for this campaign may continue for six months.

The campaign also aims to unite individuals, NGOs and corporates across Africa behind this cause by disseminating information and enlisting support from their extensive networks.

Message of support from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

"We were supported wonderfully by the International Community when we struggled against the vicious policy of apartheid. Today the people of Haiti, struck twice by the earthquake, are in a worse predicament than we were. As South Africans, we especially cannot but want to do our bit to alleviate the immense suffering of our sisters and brothers in Haiti. I welcome the initiative by Graça Machel and others. It deserves our wholehearted and very generous support."

Statement from Archbishop Ndungane

Haiti's worst earthquake that struck the Western Hemisphere's poorest country on the 12th of January brought sadness and shock.
As the people of Africa, we identify with and feel for the people of Haiti, particularly because of our own experience of the devastation of poverty. We comprehend that this earthquake has exacerbated an already desperate situation.
When a brother or sister is in need, it is incumbent upon all of us to pool our resources to assist. The African Monitor family and I are solidly behind the ‘Africa for Haiti' initiative, which seeks to assist the people of Haiti to recover from the destruction and devastation left by the earthquake.
As Africa, we have been recipients of help in our time of need and we appreciate how this can alleviate desperate situations.
Our continent can also make a big contribution towards restoring Haitian people through inner healing of hearts and memories for the traumatized people. This given that notwithstanding our own psychologically devastating past, we have picked up the pieces, healed and moved forward.
I therefore appeal to Africans from all walks of life to take this as a call to action and an
opportunity to verify to ourselves how we are people with proven love, compassion and sensitivity, particularly in times of need.
With every good wish and blessing
Grace and Peace

Message from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

I am glad to give my wholehearted support to this important initiative. Across the continent of Africa over the years, so many of us have been the recipients of all manner of aid and support through many differing circumstances of need. Now it is Africa's turn to stand in solidarity with the country and people of Haiti, and offer whatever assistance lies within our ability, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes. In South Africa earlier this week, Church leaders from across the Christian spectrum joined in calling for a generous response to this suffering which we can only begin to imagine, and we welcomed the commitments that our own Government is making, alongside the growing help from individuals and organisations.

Yet we can and must do far, far, more. Now is the time for all Africans to join in helping these brothers and sisters of ours within the human family. We urge our political leaders not to be slow in joining the tide of compassion in response to this disaster. We too can show love and care, not only in words, but in providing financial and practical help, in sharing resources and expertise, especially in the challenging times of reconstruction that lie ahead. Therefore we look to the African Union Summit to express what it means truly to be 'Africans for Haiti'. One of the great riches of Africa is the spirit of ubuntu - the spirit that says 'a person is a person through other persons'. Now is the time to demonstrate our humanity through selfless generosity and tangible action. It is therefore my prayer that the Summit will have the courage and conviction to make specific and significant commitments, which are then swiftly and effectively implemented.

And in this way, may God in his mercy use us as a channel of blessing and love to those who stand in such great need at this time. Amen.

Message of support from Stanley Subramony, Nepad Business Foundation

" It is time for Africa to play a meaningful role in assisting Haiti to rebuild its economic infrastructure. Support in industry, trade and agriculture will be central to the recovery and renewal of the Haitian nation. The tenacity and resourcefulness of the African people will be invaluable in creating a sustainable impact. This is indeed a difficult time for the people of Haiti but it is a time to face down adversity and proclaim that together with the rest of the world they will overcome these enormous challenges and rise to being a proud nation.
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