Category Archives: regional human rights protection

In Karimov v. Azerbaijan, European Court of Human Rights Holds Special Polling Stations for Military Personnel Violate the Right to Free Elections

Azerbaijan flag

Azerbaijan flagLast week, the European Court of Human Rights held that the establishment of military polling stations, in contravention of the Azerbaijani Electoral Code, violated the right to free elections under the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. ECtHR, Karimov v. Azerbaijan, no. 12535/06, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 25 September 2014, para. 52. The applicant, Mr. Hasan Huseyn oglu Karimov, who was the unsuccessful opposition candidate in Azerbaijan’s November 2005 parliamentary elections, argued that his electoral rights were violated when State agents interfered with his electoral campaign by specially setting up unlawful military polling stations, where military personnel and detainees allegedly voted under coercion and in conditions lacking transparency. See id. at paras. 1–11, 24. He also alleged, but failed to convince the European Court, that the State had violated Article 6 (right to a fair trial), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court unanimously held that Azerbaijan violated Article 3 of the First Protocol to the Convention, and ordered the State to pay Mr. Karimov 7,500 euros for non-pecuniary damages and 2,544 euros for costs and expenses. See id. at paras. 56, 67, 75. Read more

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

On 4th International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Advocacy and Monitoring Continue on Behalf of Victims and Families

Remembrance, Truth and Justice.Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

On August 30th, the international community will commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honoring those who have been forcibly disappeared, while encouraging States to cease this practice and remedy the damage it has caused. Enforced disappearance is defined as arrest, detention, abduction, or other deprivation of a person’s liberty by agents of the State, combined with the “refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” See International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, art. 2. In honor of this year’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that enforced disappearance “is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century,” urging States to “provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared [and to] effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families.” [UN]

Remembrance, Truth and Justice.<br>Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

A mural urges remembrance, truth, and justice.
Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

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Inter-American Commission Holds Extraordinary Session & Outreach Events in Mexico This Month

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 152nd Extraordinary Session in Mexico

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 152nd Extraordinary Session in MexicoThis week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission) will hold its 152nd Extraordinary Period of Sessions in Mexico City, Mexico, to focus on the general human rights situation in the countries of Central America. [IACHR] These hearings will be the first in seven years to be held away from the Commission’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. In light of the controversial reform process of the past few years, the Commission seems to be striving to make itself increasingly accessible to the public and to emphasize that its mandate includes all of the Americas. On the dates surrounding the session, the Commission will host a workshop on the Inter-American human rights system and help present the Mexican Supreme Court’s new guidelines for judges in cases concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more

European Convention on Violence against Women Enters into Force, Codifying Advances in the Protection of Women’s Human Rights

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Council of Europe Istanbul Convention

Credit: Council of Europe

August 1, 2014 marked the entry into force of the first legally binding instrument in Europe that specifically targets violence against women and domestic violence. The “most far reaching international treaty to tackle this serious violation of human rights,” the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, requires States parties to take steps to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and to implement policies, practices, and supportive measures that assist survivors and relevant agencies. [COE] The Istanbul Convention was drafted by the Council of Europe (COE), an intergovernmental organization with 47 Member States. Unlike the European Convention on Human Rights, ratification of the Istanbul Convention is not a requirement for COE membership, nor is its implementation to be overseen directly by the European Court of Human Rights. Rather, the convention establishes its own independent monitoring mechanism, very similar to a United Nations human rights treaty body. Read more

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

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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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