Category Archives: international human rights

In Hassan v. United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights Finds Extra-territorial Jurisdiction over Iraqi Detainee and Examines Interplay between Geneva Conventions and European Human Rights Obligations

The European Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in Hassan v. UK in December 2013Credit: ECtHR
The European Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in Hassan v. UK in December 2013Credit: ECtHR

The European Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in Hassan v. UK in December 2013
Credit: ECtHR

On September 16, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its Grand Chamber judgment in Hassan v. United Kingdom, which involved the detention of an Iraqi national, Tarek Hassan, by the British army in Iraq in 2003. The applicant alleged that the United Kingdom was responsible for Tarek’s unlawful detention, ill-treatment, and death. The key issues before the Court were whether the British army’s actions were brought within the Court’s jurisdiction through extra-territorial application of the European Convention on Human Rights and to what extent the surrounding context of international armed conflict modified the State’s human rights obligations. [ECtHR Press Release]

The Court held that there was no violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because, although Tarek was within the UK’s extra-territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention, the Court interpreted Article 5 of the European Convention to allow for the otherwise unauthorized detention of suspected combatants, in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, in the context of international armed conflict. Because it found that Tarek’s detention complied with international humanitarian law and there was insufficient evidence linking his ill-treatment and death to the actions of the British forces, the Court rejected the applicant’s claims. See ECtHR, Hassan v. United Kingdom, [GC], no. 29750/09, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 16 September 2014, paras. 62–64, 80, 108–111. Read more

New United Nations Report Details Human Rights Abuses by Militias in Libya’s Ongoing Armed Conflict

Press Conference of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Libya. Cherif Bassiouni, Chair of the Commission.Credit: UN Photo/UNIS - Geneva
Press Conference of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Libya. Cherif Bassiouni, Chair of the Commission.Credit: UN Photo/UNIS - Geneva

Cherif Bassiouni, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Libya at a press conference on April 8, 2011.
Credit: UN Photo/UNIS – Geneva

Last week, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) published a joint report providing an overview of human rights abuses committed in Libya from May through August 2014, amid ongoing fighting among militias for control of Benghazi and Tripoli. See UNSMIL & OHCHR, Overview of Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law During the Ongoing Violence in Libya (2014). The report confirms that “all sides” are: indiscriminately shelling and attacking civilian objects, including hospitals, which is limiting access to medical care; detaining, abducting, and torturing fighters or suspected fighters; and attacking media professionals and civilians. See id. It concludes that the armed groups’ actions violate international human rights law and international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes, which are subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). See id.

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ECCC Sentences Former Khmer Rouge Leaders to Life Imprisonment for Crimes Against Humanity, Marking the Latest Convictions of High-Level Officials by an Internationalized Criminal Tribunal

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013 Credit: ECCC

 

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013 Credit: ECCC

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013
Credit: ECCC

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) last week issued its first convictions against former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, finding Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge’s rule in the 1970s. [ECCC Press Release] The convictions, part of only the second set of charges to be resolved by the ECCC, come after nearly four years of litigation before the United Nations-assisted hybrid tribunal. In recent years, the court has been plagued by controversy and delays that at times seemed likely to outlast the few, elderly defendants brought before it. [IJRC] Read more

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to Review the United States, Peru, Japan, Iraq, Estonia, El Salvador, and Cameroon during Ongoing 85th Session

CERD Ratification
State Ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Credit: OHCHR

State Ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Credit: OHCHR

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) opened its 85th session on Monday, August 11 in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will close on August 29, the Committee’s  agenda includes its review of periodic reports from seven States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), consideration of individual complaints regarding alleged human rights violations, discussion of its working methods, and consultations with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). [OHCHR] The live webcast of the Committee’s interactive dialogue with States can be viewed on UN Treaty Body Webcast. Read more

European Court of Human Rights: Poland Responsible for Secret Detention, Torture, and Rendition of Two Guantánamo Detainees

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.12.52 AM
Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.12.52 AM

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Mr. Ben Emmerson, speaks as a third party intervenor in the cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

In its first judgment concerning the human rights of current Guantánamo detainees, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that Poland failed to uphold its international obligations by allowing the secret detention, torture, and extraordinary rendition of a Saudi Arabian national and a stateless Palestinian, both suspected of terrorist acts. See ECtHR, Al Nashiri v. Poland, no. 28761/11, Judgment of 24 July 2014; ECtHR, Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, no. 7511/13, Judgment of 24 July 2014. In both cases, the Court found Poland had violated the applicants’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights by: enabling the United States to secretly detain and torture the applicants on Polish soil, conducting an inadequate investigation into the acts of torture and ill treatment committed in Poland, and allowing the applicants’ transfer to Guantánamo despite the real risk they would be tortured and could be subjected to unfair trials and the death penalty by the United States. The Court held that these failures constituted violations of the applicants’ rights to humane treatment, liberty and security, respect for private and family life, an effective remedy, and a fair trial.  The tribunal also held that Poland had failed to comply with its Article 38 obligation to cooperate with the European Court’s investigation in the cases.

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