ECHR - Homepage of the European Court of Human Rights - ECHR
The Court held a Chamber hearing in the case of Karsai v. Hungary.
The case concerns the right to a self-determined death of a person affected with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a type of motor neurone disease. Given the nature of the case, the Chamber has decided to grant the application priority under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.
In the case of Mariya Alekhina and Others v. Russia (no. 2) the Court held that there had been a violation of the freedom of association.
The case concerned the Russian authorities’ refusal to register the applicants’ human-rights organisation which aimed to provide legal assistance to prisoners. The Court found overall that there had been a lack of detailed guidelines on the formal conditions for registering non-profit associations and on the requirements for filling out application forms. The Court therefore found that the alleged deficiencies in the documents provided by the applicants had not been sufficient to deny them registration of their organisation.
In the case of Tadić v. Croatia the Court held that there had been no violation of the right to a fair trial.
The case concerned criminal proceedings in which the applicant had been found guilty of conspiring – through payments of money – to influence the Supreme Court to give a decision favourable to a well-known politician who was being tried for a war crime. The Court found that the Supreme Court President’s involvement in the trial against the applicant had not harmed the objective impartiality of that court. He had had very little real influence to impose his will on other judges, and in any case there had been no issue as to how the Supreme Court had upheld the first-instance judgment.
In the case of Associations of Communally-owned Forestry Proprietors Porceni Pleșa and Piciorul Bătrân Banciu (Obștea de Pădure Porceni Pleșa și Composesoratul Piciorul Bătrân Banciu) v. Romania the Court held that there had been a violation of the protection of property.
The case concerned two associations of forestry proprietors who complained that, in spite of a legally recognised right, they had not received compensation for the fact that they were unable to make use of their forests, since the forests in question had been designated as protected natural areas for the purposes of the European Natura 2000 network.
The Court noted that to date, more than a decade after the European Commission’s decision in favour of granting State aid to individuals or legal entities which owned forestry land within the designated Natura 2000 areas, the draft decision defining the methodology for granting State compensatory measures had still not been published and no payment had been made to the first applicant association in respect of 2013, or to the second applicant association in respect of the period from 2010 to 2014. Although they were subject to the legal ban on using their forests, a result of the classification of the relevant forestry land as protected natural areas, the applicant associations had, at their own expense, complied with the obligation to maintain them.
In the case of Krachunova v. Bulgaria the Court held that there had been a violation of the prohibition of slavery and forced labour.
The case concerned the applicant’s attempts to obtain compensation for the earnings from sex work that her trafficker had taken from her. The Bulgarian courts had refused compensation, stating she had been engaged in prostitution and returning the earnings from that would be contrary to “good morals”.
The Court held that States had an obligation to enable victims of trafficking to claim compensation for lost earnings from traffickers, and that the Bulgarian authorities had failed to balance the applicant’s right to make such a claim with the interests of the community, who were unlikely to find the payment of compensation in such a situation immoral.
This was the first time that the ECHR had found that a trafficking victim had a right to seek compensation in respect of pecuniary damage from her trafficker.
Delivered Judgments and Decisions
Grand Chamber News
The Court declared the application in the case of Communauté genevoise d’action syndicale (CGAS) v. Switzerland inadmissible.
The case concerned an association which complains of being deprived of the right to organise and participate in public events following the adoption of government measures to tackle COVID-19 under Ordinance O.2 COVID-19, enacted by the Swiss Federal Council on 13 March 2020. On the basis of that ordinance, public and private events were prohibited with effect from 16 March 2020. Failure to comply with the prohibition was punishable by a custodial sentence or a fine.
The Court found that the applicant association had failed to take appropriate steps to enable the national courts to fulfil their fundamental role in the Convention protection system and it stated that an application for a preliminary ruling on constitutionality, lodged in the context of an ordinary appeal against a decision implementing federal ordinances, was a remedy which was directly accessible to litigants and made it possible, where appropriate, to have the impugned provision declared unconstitutional. There had been no particular circumstance which would have released the applicant association from the obligation to exhaust the above remedy.
Communication of cases
The Court has communicated to the Government of Slovakia the application Fico v. Slovakia and has asked them to submit their observations on its admissibility and merits.
The application concerns the secret monitoring of the applicant’s private meetings, when he was an opposition member of parliament after already having been Prime Minster, in the context of an investigation into what was seen as suspected poaching. The applicant is the leader of a social democratic party SMER and the current Prime Minister of Slovakia.
The ECHR has declared inadmissible the application in the case of Sorasio and Others v. Italy.
The case concerned the occupation of part of the applicants’ agricultural land in Villanova Solaro by the Interregional Agency for the Po River for the building of an embankment, and the court proceedings which followed.
The Court held that as the State had acknowledged in substance the violation of the applicants’ property rights and had paid appropriate compensation, the applicants could no longer claim to be victims of a violation, and the applications had to be rejected.
The ECHR has decided to declare the application in the case of Asociación de Abogados Cristianos v. Spain inadmissible.
The case concerned an artwork which was part of an exhibition financed by the local authorities in Pamplona. The use of consecrated pieces of the host in the artwork sparked public outrage and led the applicant association to lodge a criminal complaint against both the artist and a local councillor.
The Court rejected the applicant association’s first complaint, concerning the authorities’ duty of religious neutrality, because it had not used all the legal avenues available at national level in that regard. In particular, instead of lodging a criminal complaint, the association could have challenged the local authorities’ refusal to cancel the exhibition by bringing contentious administrative proceedings. The association’s second complaint, concerning the refusal to prosecute, was rejected as manifestly ill-founded. There was nothing arbitrary in the national judicial authorities’ conclusion that the acts in question had not amounted to a criminal offence.
The Court will be holding a Grand Chamber hearing in the inter-State case of Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) on 13 December 2023.
The case concerns Ukraine’s allegations of a pattern (“administrative practice”) of violations of the European Convention by the Russian Federation in Crimea beginning in February 2014.
On 1 December 2023 President Síofra O’Leary took part in the Conference Human Rights in Practice: the Role of Human Rights on the 20th anniversary of the ECHR Act 2003 organised by the Irish Centre for European Law (ICEL) in Dublin (Ireland). She delivered a speech on that occasion.
The Court has decided to grant an interim measure in the case of I.A. v. France, accepting the request of the applicant, a Russian national of Chechen origin, to suspend his expulsion to Russia.
The Court took its decision in respect of the applicant’s complaints concerning right to life and prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment without prejudging the merits of the case. It decided, in the particular circumstances of the case – especially considering the Russian authorities’ request for his extradition – that an imminent risk of irreparable harm could not be ruled out at this stage of the proceedings in the event of the applicant’s removal to Russia.