Category Archives: regional human rights protection

IACtHR 109th Ordinary Session Addresses Custodial Death in Guatemala, Abuses of Colombian Human Rights Defenders

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Participants in the 21st annual meeting held during the 109th Session
Credit: IACtHR

The 109th Ordinary Session  of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) began on June 18 and concluded on July 1, 2015, in San Jose, Costa Rica. During this session, the Court publicly heard two cases, Chinchilla Sandoval and Others v. Guatemala and Yarce and Others v. Colombia. The first case concerned the ill-treatment, followed by the death, of a diabetic woman incarcerated in Guatemala, the second case concerned the situation of five Colombian human rights defenders. The Court was also scheduled to: hold a public hearing regarding Panama’s request for an advisory opinion; analyze the possibility of  issuing judgments for three cases, hold a private hearing on compliance with two Barbados judgments, and celebrate the 21st Annual Meeting of Presidents and Judges of Tribunals, Courts, and Constitutional Chambers of Latin America. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)]

Videos of the public hearings and events are available on the Court’s Vimeo page.

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New Members Elected to Inter-American Human Rights Bodies, Amid Controversy

IACHR Building
Credit: OAS

IACHR Building
Credit: OAS

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.

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ECtHR: Failure to Protect March Participants from Homophobic Attacks Violated Rights

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The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Fred Schaerli

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.

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ECtHR: Degrading Treatment of Minor Sexual Abuse Complainant Violated Rights

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A session of the European Court of Human Rights
Credit: ECtHR

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]

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African Commission Adopts Resolution on Right to Rehabilitation for Torture Victims

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The 56th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Session

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]

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ECtHR: Property Confiscation Legal When Serving Public Interest in Combating Corruption

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Judges of the European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Alban Bodineau, Council of Europe

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

Inter-American Court to Rule on Anti-Gay Discrimination in Ecuador’s Military

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Commissioners, Ecuador’s Representatives, and Petitioners at an IACHR hearing
Credit: Eddie Arrossi

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]

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ECtHR: Armenia Violates NGO’s Freedom of Assembly in Prohibiting Commemorative March

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Courtroom in the ECtHR
Credit: Wikimedia Commons Adrian Grycuk

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.

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