Category Archives: regional human rights protection

ECtHR: Refusal to Authorize Gender Reassignment Surgery Violates Convention

Judges deliberating at the European Court of Human Rights   Credit: Council of Europe
The European Court of Human Rights   Credit: Council of Europe

The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Council of Europe

On March 10, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) released its judgment in Y.Y. v. Turkey, where it unanimously held that the State’s refusal to authorize gender reassignment surgery for the transsexual applicant violated the right to respect for private life under the European Convention of Human Rights. See ECtHR, Y.Y. v. Turkey, no. 14793/08, Judgment of 10 March 2015 (decision is currently being processed). The Court reasoned that the State’s grounds for denying the surgery – including that the applicant was not unable to procreate – were not sufficient, and that the State’s interference with Y.Y.’s right to respect for his private life was not “necessary” in a democratic society, thus violating Article 8 of the European Convention. The Court stated that transsexuals’ rights to personal development and physical and moral security “could not be regarded as a matter of controversy.” [ECtHR Press Release]

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European Court Upholds Journalists’ Use of Hidden Cameras

European Court of Human RightsCredit: CherryX per Wikimedia Commons
European Court of Human RightsCredit: CherryX per Wikimedia Commons

European Court of Human Rights
Credit: CherryX per Wikimedia Commons

On February 24, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in the case of Haldimann and Others v. Switzerland, concerning journalists’ use of secret recordings to report on malpractice in the insurance industry. See ECtHR, Haldimann and Others v. Switzerland, no. 21830/09, Judgment of 24 February 2015 (French only). This was the first time the Court reviewed journalists’ use of hidden cameras to provide information on a subject of general public interest, where the person was not filmed in a personal capacity but as a representation of a particular professional category. [Human Rights Europe] Read more

Inter-American Court of Human Rights Holds 107th Session

The Inter-American Court in session.Credit: IACtHR
The Inter-American Court in session.Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court in session.
Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) convened its 107th regular session from January 26 to February 6, 2015 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Court held hearings concerning five pending cases, provisional measures regarding Venezuelan prisons, and States’ compliance with four previous judgments. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish)]

Public hearings were held on the following pending cases: Rural Community of Santa Barbara v. Peru, Galindo Cárdenas v. Peru, López Lone et al. v. Honduras, Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v. Suriname, and García Ibarra and Family v. Ecuador. These cases involve allegations of forced disappearance and arbitrary detention during Peru’s internal armed conflict, administrative punishment of judges who questioned the legality of the coup d’état in Honduras, indigenous land rights in Suriname, and the killing of an unarmed teenager by police in Ecuador, respectively. Read more

ECtHR Finds Violation of Respect for Family Life in Surrogacy Case

European Court of Human RightsCredit: Council of Europe
European Court of Human RightsCredit: Council of Europe

European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Council of Europe

On January 27, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in Paradiso and Campanelli v. Italy, reaffirming the State obligation to prioritize the best interest of the child when determining guardianship arrangements. See ECtHR, Paradiso and Campanelli v. Italy, no. 25358/12, Judgment of 27 January 2015 (French only). The Court held that the State had violated Article 8 (respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, reasoning that the State had not duly considered the nine-month-old child’s best interest when it placed him in a children’s home. The European Court stated that the removal of a child from his or her family setting is an “extreme measure” that would only be justified if the child were in immediate danger, and that public policy considerations did not adequately justify removal. The Court ordered the State to pay the applicants 20,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages and 10,000 euros for costs and expenses. [ECtHR Press Release] Read more

African Court Addresses Freedom of Expression in Burkina Faso, in Landmark Judgment

The African Court on Human and Peoples' RightsCredit: AfCHPR
The African Court on Human and Peoples' RightsCredit: AfCHPR

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Credit: AfCHPR

For the first time in its eight-year tenure, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) has directly considered the right to freedom of expression, and the validity of legislation that criminalizes defamation. The case, Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, involved a journalist’s conviction, imprisonment, and substantial fine in connection with his reporting. [AfCHPR Press Release] In its decision, the African Court unanimously found that Burkina Faso violated Article 9 (freedom of expression) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Article 66(2) (the press) of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (Revised ECOWAS Treaty) by imposing a sentence that was disproportionate to the purpose of the State’s national laws. AfCHPR, Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, App. No. 004/2013, Judgment of 5 December 2014. Read more

Former Guatemalan Police Chief Convicted for Spanish Embassy Siege

Guatemala City
Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Credit: Rigostar

On January 19, a Guatemalan court found Pedro García Arredondo, a former police chief, guilty of murder and crimes against humanity for his role in authorities’ attack on the Spanish embassy in Guatemala City in 1980. In this attack, 37 protesters burned to death when the Spanish embassy building caught fire and García Arredondo ordered the building to be sealed and instructed officers, “No one gets out of there alive!” [Amnesty International: Conviction; BBC] Among those killed was the father of human rights advocate Rigoberta Menchú Tum. [Guardian] The Guatemalan court sentenced García Arredondo to a total of 90 years in prison: 40 years for murder and crimes against humanity in connection with the embassy attack, and 50 years for the murder of two students at the embassy victims’ funeral. [BBC; New York Times]

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IACHR Issues Report on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada

IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.Credit: IACHR
IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.Credit: IACHR

IACHR visit to Canada in 2013.
Credit: IACHR

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published a new report on missing and murdered indigenous women in British Columbia, Canada. The report, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada, examines the context and efficacy of Canada’s response to the pattern of violence and discrimination against indigenous women. The report also offers recommendations to assist the Canadian government in improving its efforts to protect and guarantee the rights of indigenous women. IACHR, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada, OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc 30/14 (2014). Read more

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