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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.
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.
Grand Chamber News
The Court will be delivering a Grand Chamber ruling in the case of Humpert and Others v. Germany on 14 December 2023.
The case concerns the sanctions imposed on the applicants, teachers with civil servant status, for going on strike in order to improve their working conditions.
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.
The ECHR has declared inadmissible the application in the case of Gyulumyan and Others v. Armenia.
The case concerned the termination of the four applicants’ terms of office at the Constitutional Court in 2020, following constitutional amendments which had not been subject to judicial review. The context of those events was the “Velvet Revolution”, a new government and their efforts to combat corruption.
The Court found that even though the applicants’ claim had concerned an arguable right under Armenian law, namely their entitlement to serve their full terms of office until retirement, their exclusion from access to a court had been justified on objective grounds. In particular, their terms of office had been ended through a constitutional amendment, which had been part of broader reform and which had not been directed against them specifically.
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 ECHR has decided to strike out of its list of cases the applications in the case of Bryska v. Ukraine and 5 Others.
None of the application forms included a functioning method of contacting the applicants other than a postal address. Given that it was not possible for the Court to send postal correspondence to Ukraine, and that the applicants had not provided a functioning email address, the Court considered that they no longer wished to pursue their applications.
The Court has declared the application in the case of Rivadulla Duró v. Spain inadmissible.
The case concerned the applicant’s conviction and custodial sentence on charges of public praise or justification of terrorism, insult and slander against the Crown, and insult and slander against State institutions, for the content of several social-media posts and a song about King Emeritus Juan Carlos I of Spain.
In finding the applicant guilty, the national courts had taken into account the European Court’s case-law and had balanced the interests involved, including his right to freedom of expression. The convictions and the sentences imposed had not been disproportionate. Overall, the application was rejected as manifestly ill-founded. The Court was satisfied that the rejection of the applicant’s amparo appeal had been in accordance with the Convention.
The Court has ruled on 21 applications against Norway concerning children taken into public care. It declared 12 of the applications inadmissible, while it held in the nine others that there had been violations of the right to respect for private and family life.
The applications restated guiding principles in respect of children taken into public care. Notably, States had wide discretion when deciding on taking a child into care, but the Court had to carry out “stricter scrutiny” of any further measures taken, such as restricting contact rights. In particular, adoption had to be justified by “exceptional circumstances” and the overriding requirement of the child’s best interests.
In the case of Lenis v. Greece, the Court has declared the application inadmissible.
The appplicant was the Metropolitan (equivalent of a bishop) of the Greek Orthodox Church for Kalavryta and Aigialeia. The case concerned his posting a homophobic article on his personal blog in December 2015, when the Greek Parliament had been about to debate proposed legislation introducing civil unions for same-sex couples, and his subsequent prosecution and sentencing for incitement to hatred and discrimination.
The Court found that the applicant was attempting to deflect the freedom of expression of the Convention from its real purpose by using it for ends which were clearly contrary to the values which the Convention sought to promote.
On 4 December 2023 President Síofra O’Leary attended an awards ceremony at the Faculty of Law, Political Science and Management of the University of Strasbourg, where she was accompanied by Judge Mattias Guyomar, elected in respect of France. She delivered an address on that occasion.
- Speech by President Síofra O’Leary (in French only)
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.