The ECtHR Grand Chamber hears Jaloud v. the Netherlands
On November 20, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in the case of Jaloud v. the Netherlands, concerning the shooting death of an Iraqi national, Azhar Sabah Jaloud, at a military checkpoint overseen by Dutch troops serving as part of the Stabilisation Force in Iraq (SFIR) in April 2004. [ECtHR] The case is significant because it expands on the Court’s previous jurisprudence concerning the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction in armed conflict situations.
In his application to the Court, the applicant, Jaloud’s father, alleged that the Netherlands had violated the procedural aspects of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to carry out an adequate investigation into the circumstances of his son’s death. [ECtHR] Holding that a State has jurisdiction over the acts of its military service personnel operating abroad under the State’s “exclusive direction or control,” the Court determined that the Netherlands’ exercise of “authority and control over persons passing through the checkpoint” indicated that it had jurisdiction over the shooting death of Jaloud within the meaning of Article 1 (obligation to respect human rights) of the European Convention. ECtHR, Jaloud v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 47708/08, Judgment of 20 November 2014, paras. 151-53.
As such, the Netherlands was under an obligation to conduct an effective investigation into Jaloud’s death. The Court found the Dutch investigation to be inadequate because it failed to preserve certain evidence, to ensure a suitable autopsy, to prevent potential suspects from colluding with key witnesses, and to provide critical reports to the reviewing court. Thus, the Court found that the Netherlands breached the procedural obligations of Article 2 of the European Convention. Id. at paras. 227-28. Read more
The IACHR, Mexico, and families’ representatives sign the agreement.
In response to the disappearance of 43 student protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has signed a tripartite agreement with the government of Mexico and a group of nongovernmental organizations representing the student victims and their families to provide technical assistance with the search for the students, the investigation and subsequent actions regarding their disappearance, and support for the families of the victims. [IACHR: Official Agreement] The students have been missing since September 26 after a shooting incident with police that left six people dead and 17 injured. Although the students are believed to be dead, their whereabouts are yet to be discovered, fueling complaints of gang-related violence, impunity, and State corruption in the country. [Al Jazeera: Protests rage]
IACHR Chair, Tracy Robinson, stated:
For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this historic agreement is of fundamental importance in the sense that it represents a key opportunity to advance in solving a structural issue that Mexico has been experi[enc]ing for years: forced disappearances … The main objective is to solve the underlying structural problems to these disappearances, not only the cases involving the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, but other cases, which unfortunately are many.
[IACHR: Official Agreement] Read more
Credit: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
From November 24 to December 5, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will hold its 35th Ordinary Session. The session will feature two public hearings in the cases of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Kenya, concerning indigenous rights, and Thomas v. Tanzania, regarding the right to fair trial and due process. The first case will be heard on November 27 and 28, and the second will be heard on December 4 and 5. [AfCHPR Press Release]
The session will be held at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The public is welcome to attend the hearings, which will take place at the Nelson Mandela Conference Hall. Each person wishing to attend must send his or her name to one of the following individuals before November 24: Mrs. Eliane Adote Berthe at Eliane.Egue@african-court.org, Mrs. Ingrid Kanyamuneza at Ingrid.Kanyamuenza@african-court.org, or Mrs. Netsanet Haile at email@example.com. [AfCHPR Press Release] Video of the hearings may be available on the African Court’s Livestream channel. Read more
On October 30, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released its report, Impact of the Friendly Settlement Procedure, elucidating the history, mechanics, and emblematic results of the friendly settlement mechanism, which allows petitioners and States to resolve disputes concerning human rights violations without obtaining a decision or judgment from an Inter-American human rights body. See IACHR, Impact of the Friendly Settlement Procedure (2013).
The Commission prepared this report after studying 106 friendly settlement reports approved between 1985 and 2012; establishing a working group on human rights and alternative dispute resolution; and issuing a special questionnaire requesting feedback from States, civil society organizations, and experts on alternative dispute resolution. See id. at paras. 11–15. The report is intended to strengthen the friendly settlement mechanism by increasing understanding of how the mechanism works and serving as a guide for how to use the procedure effectively. See id. The first section of the report discusses the evolution of the procedure, and the second section covers the impacts of friendly settlement agreements’ implementation. [IACHR Press Release] Read more
November 2, 2014 marked the first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, established by the United Nations General Assembly to draw attention to “attacks and violence against journalists,” which it unequivocally condemned. See UN General Assembly, Resolution 68/163, The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, UN Doc. A/RES/68/163, 18 December 2013, para. 2. The General Assembly also called on States to “do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists” and urged governments to “ensure accountability” by investigating and punishing those responsible for such violence. See UN General Assembly, Resolution 68/163, paras. 5, 6.
The date of November 2nd was selected for this new International Day in remembrance of two French journalists killed in Mali in 2013. See UNESCO, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Several events were held on November 3 and 4 in honor of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. On November 3, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ) held a high-level panel discussion on “Ending Impunity: Upholding the Rule of Law.” On November 4, the third UN Inter-agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity convened in Strasbourg, France. Read more
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights hears the Gudiel Ramos case.
Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala, concerning the State’s failure to adequately investigate and address the 2004 killing of human rights defender Florentín Gudiel Ramos. See I/A Court H.R., Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of August 28, 2014. Series C No. 283, para. 288 (Spanish only).
The Court held Guatemala internationally responsible for violations of the rights to: humane treatment, freedom of movement and residence, participate in government (as applied to Mr. Gudiel’s daughter), judicial protection, judicial guarantees, and the rights of the child (with regard to the children in the family), as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights. See id. at para. 288. The Court held, by three votes to two, that the petitioners did not sufficiently establish violations of Mr. Gudiel’s right to life or right to participate in government. See id. at paras. 144, 149, 189. Human rights defenders in Guatemala continue to face threats and violence, in a prevailing climate of impunity. See generally, Front Line Defenders, Guatemala. Read more
European Court of Human Rights
In a judgment released last week, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that Ukraine violated the rights to freedom of expression and an appeal in criminal matters when, in 2011, it detained Ms. Galyna Shvydka for ten days under the charge of petty hooliganism due to her act of political protest in support of the opposition party. See ECtHR, Shvydka v. Ukraine, no. 17888/12, Judgment of 30 October 2014, paras. 42, 55. The Court found that the State had violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights because her removal of a ribbon from a wreath during an Independence Day ceremony was an act of political expression, and her detention for ten days was excessive and penalized her for her political views. [ECtHR Press Release] The Court also found that the State violated Article 2 of Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention (right of appeal in criminal matters) because Ms. Shvydka’s appeal was examined after she had already served her sentence, thereby impairing the effectiveness of her appeal. [ECtHR Press Release] The Court ordered the State to pay Ms. Shvydka 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages. See ECtHR, Shvydka v. Ukraine, no. 17888/12, Judgment of 30 October 2014, para. 59. Read more
Juan Francisco Soto and Claudia Samayoa appear before the IACHR on the topic of judicial independence in Guatemala.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is holding its 153rd session from October 23 to November 7, 2014, with public hearings on October 27, 28, 30 and 31. The hearings allow both States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide the IACHR with information and context on 53 human rights issues, ranging from the impact of mining operations on human rights in Latin America, to the rights of refugee children and families in the Americas, to racism in the U.S. criminal justice system. Live webcasts of the hearings and video recordings of past hearings (in Spanish only) are available on the Commission’s website. Read more
Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released its opinion in Case of Dominican and Haitian People Expelled v. the Dominican Republic, where it held that the State’s discrimination, detention, and mass expulsion of individuals of Haitian descent violated the rights to: juridical personality, nationality, a name, personal liberty, privacy, fair trial, judicial protection, equal protection before the law, freedom of movement and residence, rights of the family, rights of the child, and the guarantee of non-discrimination, as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights. See I/A Court H.R., Case of Dominican and Haitian People Expelled v. the Dominican Republic. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of August 28, 2014. Series C No. 282, para. 512 (Spanish only).
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in the case during its 48th Extraordinary Session.
The Inter-American Court has previously condemned the Dominican Republic’s treatment of persons of Haitian descent and its counterpart, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has urged the State to modify its immigration laws and practices to comply with regional human rights standards, including by averting the implementation of a 2013 Constitutional Court judgment that directed authorities to strip possibly thousands of their citizenship. [IACHR Press Release] Now, in a binding judgment, the Inter-American Court has echoed these findings and directed the State to take specific action. Read more