On June 16, 2015, at the 45th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., Member States elected four commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and four judges to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). [IACHR Press Release] These eight positions comprise more than half of the total seats on the Commission and the Court and the outcome of the elections is expected to “affect both the composition and identity of the Commission and the Court for years to come.” [Open Society Foundations Press Release] Only one seat was filled by an incumbent candidate, although several current members were eligible for reelection.
Category Archives: regional human rights protection
On May 12, 2015, in Identoba and Others v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Georgian authorities failed to protect participants in a 2012 peaceful march marking the International Day Against Homophobia from homophobic attacks, even after agreeing to provide police protection. The Court further held that authorities failed to properly investigate the incident and, particularly, the homophobic motivations behind the violence. Finally, the Court held that the State failed to ensure the right to peaceful assembly by not taking positive steps to protect the march participants from bias-motivated violence. On this basis, the State failed to meet its obligations under European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) Article 3, prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment; Article 11, affirming freedom of assembly and association; and Article 14, prohibiting discrimination. See ECtHR, Identoba and Others v. Georgia, no. 73235/12, Judgment of 12 May 2015.
On May 28, 2015 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) released its judgment in Y v. Slovenia, holding that the State violated European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) with its prolonged investigation and criminal proceedings concerning the applicant’s complaint of sexual abuse, as well as Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) when it did not provide adequate measures to protect her personal integrity during the proceedings. See ECtHR, Y v. Slovenia, no. 41107/10, Judgment of 28 May 2015. The Court took into consideration that the applicant was a minor when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a family friend and exposed to humiliating and offensive questioning by the suspected offender. [ECtHR Press Release]
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted Resolution 303 on the right to rehabilitation for victims of torture during its 56th Ordinary Session, held from April 21 – May 7, 2015, in Banjul, the Gambia. See ACommHPR, Res. 303: Resolution on the Right to Rehabilitation for Victims of Torture, 56th Ordinary Session, 21 April- 7 May, 2015. The resolution, which is the first that the African Commission has adopted that focuses on the importance of rehabilitation for victims of torture as part of the fight against torture, urges State parties to take steps to prevent and prohibit torture and to ensure that those who suffered from torture receive proper care and rehabilitation. The resolution is a tool which civil society organizations can use in promoting and advocating for torture victims’ right to rehabilitation before the African Commission as well as other African Union bodies. [African Commission Adopts Landmark Resolution]
On May 7, 2015, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its 2014 Annual Report, evaluating the state of freedom of expression in the Americas, to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS). [IACHR Press Release] See also Executive Summary of the 2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR.
Last week, on May 12, 2015, in Gogitidze and Others v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights held that the confiscation of property from a former public official did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicants claimed that Georgia had violated their right to property under the First Protocol to the European Convention, and their right to a fair trial under the European Convention. In finding no violation of the right to property, the Court reasoned that the State had struck a fair balance between the means taken to confiscate the applicants’ assets and the public interest in combating State corruption. Regarding the right to a fair trial, the Court found that the applicants had waived their right to participate in proceedings by failing to appear at the trial. See ECtHR, Gogitidze and Others v. Georgia, no. 36862/05, Judgment of 12 May 2015. Read more
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will have the opportunity to determine for the first time whether State regulations designed to uphold discipline within a military institution may punish sexual acts between persons of the same sex without violating the principle of equality and non-discrimination. In December 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed an application to submit the case of Homero Flor Freire v. Ecuador to the Court. The case involves the discharge of Mr. Flor from the Ecuadorian army as punishment for allegedly committing sexual acts with a person of the same sex. In 2013, the Commission held that Ecuador had violated Mr. Flor’s rights to a fair trial, judicial protection, equal protection before the law, and non-discrimination. The Commission referred the case to the Court after Ecuador failed to comply with the Commission’s recommendations. [IACHR Press Release]
On March 31, 2015 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) released its judgment in Helsinki Committee of Armenia v. Armenia, concerning the State’s denial of a non-governmental human rights organization’s (NGO) application to hold an event dedicated to mourning the death of a murder investigation witness at the police station. See ECtHR, Helsinki Committee of Armenia v. Armenia, no. 59109/08, Judgment of 31 March 2015.
Last month, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its Annual Report 2014, summarizing the Court’s structure, jurisprudence, and activities throughout 2014. The Report discusses the Court’s functions, summarizes the status of cases before the Court, breaks down the Court’s budget, and describes additional activities the Court undertook in 2014. See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Annual Report 2014. The majority of the Report focuses on the hearings that the Court held, cases that were submitted to the Court, and judgments that the Court delivered in 2014. See id. at 12–33, 39–66.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) is currently holding its 108th Ordinary Session, which began on April 13 and will conclude on April 17, 2015 in San Jose, Costa Rica, and will be holding its 52nd Special Session from April 20 to April 24, 2015 in Cartagena, Colombia.