Conference on ‘The European Human Rights System beyond Europe’

Conference on ‘The European Human Rights System beyond Europe’ will take place on 12-13 September 2014 at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The detailed programme is available here.

ECtHR condemns extraordinary renditions and secret detentions in Poland

The European Court of Human Rights has on 24 July delivered two judgments against Poland, Al Nashiri v. Poland (28761/11and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland 7511/13)concerning extraordinary renditions by the CIA of Mr Al Nashiri and Mr Husayn, both alleged terrorist, to secret detention sites in Poland. The Court has inter alia employed a strong language in condemning arbitrary and secret detentions thereby noting, for instance, in Al Nashiri that :

that the unacknowledged detention of an individual is a complete negation of these guarantees and a most grave violation of Article 5. Having assumed control over an individual, the authorities have a duty to account for his or her whereabouts. For this reason, Article 5 must be seen as requiring the authorities to take effective measures to safeguard against the risk of disappearance and to conduct a prompt effective investigation into an arguable claim that a person has been taken into custody and has not been seen since (para. 529).

The Court found that Poland committed several violations of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including, of Articles 3, 5, 8, 13 and 6 (1). It also found violation of Articles 2 and 4 in connection with Article 1 of Protocol 6 concerning the abolition of death penalty concerning rights of Mr Husayn. For the full press ECtHR release hereAnne Brasseur, President of the PACE of the COE noted in the light of both judgments that :

Seven years ago, Senator Dick Marty made his first presentation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly of credible evidence about the existence of secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania, and the involvement of other European countries in illegal renditions. His statements were subsequently confirmed, as witness the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights made public today in the cases of Al Nashiri and Husayn against Poland.

Those two cases already second and third cases following judgment in El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (39630/09). A number of cases are yet to follow. All such and similar cases cast a dark shadow on the protection of basic human rights in Europe. It is doubtful, however, that those judgments will ever be fully executed and the applicants fully rehabilitated.

FRA Annual Report 2013 calls for an EU strategic framework on fundamental rights

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has recently published its 2013 Annual report. This year’s report is much shorter than previous annual reports reflecting the useful comments the Agency received from its Scientific Committee and the Management Board. Particularly interesting are focus section on strengthening fundamental rights protection within the EU and section on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights before national courts and non-judicial human rights bodies. What is more, the Report argues for “an EU strategic framework on fundamental rights” as “renewed commitment to fundamental rights could be instrumental in ensuring that the EU and its Member States conform to their obligation to “respect the rights [as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights], observe the principles and promote the application thereof” (p. 10, footnote omitted). What is more, “providing a new internal EU strategic frame‑work would be beneficial to promote “the well‑being of its peoples”, including social progress and social inclusion, “social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child”” (Ibid.). The report and such call are undoubtedly refreshing, however it is yet to be seen if the Member States will heed such calls. Here is the summary of entire reports’s findings :

The EU and its Member States took a variety of important steps in 2013 to protect and promote fundamental rights by assuming new international commitments, revamping legislation and pursuing innovative policies on the ground. Yet, fundamental rights violations seized the spotlight with distressing frequency: would-be migrants drowned off the EU’s coast, unprecedented mass surveillance, racist and extremist-motivated murders, child poverty and Roma deprivation.

In response, the EU completed a series of important legal reforms, particularly in asylum, while Member States worked to transpose the EU Victims’ Directive into national law and pursued their national Roma integration strategies. Still, new laws on the books do not necessarily transform the situation on the ground. Crisis-driven austerity measures raised some fundamental rights concerns. A persisting gap between law and practice troubled a broad spectrum of human rights observers, particularly in asylum policy, Roma integration and child and victims’ rights.

This year’s report also features two new chapters, one on Roma integration following the drawing up of the national Roma integration strategies and a second looking at the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and especially its use before national courts as it approaches its fifth anniversary as a binding document.

Turkey and the European Court of Human Rights

Ergun Özbudun and Füsun Türkmen have last November published an excellent article in Human Rights Quarterly on “Impact of the ECtHR Rulings on Turkey’s Democratization: An Evaluation”. Here is the abstract:

Turkey has long retained the record of individual applications before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). On the other hand, the ECtHR has been playing a crucial role in the democratization of this country, as most of its rulings were followed by substantial reforms. This, however, cannot conceal a dichotomy: although the reforms reflect the political will of the government, the decisions rendered by national courts often indicate the opposite, hampering the democratization process and leaving the country with a judiciary impasse. The reasons and consequences of this phenomenon are analyzed in this essay.

This article is a well-worth read. One may note that similar studies are need in the respect of several other member states of the Council of Europe.

New book on Kadi case

9780415640312Matej Avbelj, Filippo Fontanelli, Giuseppe Martinico have recently co-edited a book on “Kadi on Trial – A Multifaceted Analysis of the Kadi Trial” (Routledge 2014).  Here is the abstract :

The judgment of the European Court of Justice concerning the Kadi case has raised substantive and procedural issues that have caught the attention of scholars from many disciplines including EU law, constitutional law, international law and jurisprudence. This book offers a comprehensive view of the Kadi case, and explores specific issues that are anticipated to resonate beyond the immediate case from which they derive.

The first part of the volume sets out an analysis of the new judgment of the Court, favouring a “contextual” reading of what is the latest link in a judicial chain. The following three parts offer interdisciplinary accounts of the decision of the European Court of Justice, including legal theory, constitutional law, and international law. The book closes with an epilogue by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, who studies the role of the Kadi case in the methodology of international law and its contribution to the concept of global justice.

The book brings together legal scholars from a range of fields, and discusses pressing topics such as the European Union’s objective of ‘the strict observance and the development of international law’, the EU as a site of global governance, constitutional pluralism and the protections of fundamental rights.