Category Archives: regional human rights protection

UN Human Rights Bodies Urge Venezuela to Release Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez, Ensure Protesters Are Not Arbitrarily Detained or Prosecuted

students
Students from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello protesting in 2009<br />  Credit: René Reinsberg

Students from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello protesting in 2009
Credit: René Reinsberg

On Monday, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced concern over the detention of a Venezuelan opposition leader, Leopoldo López, and more than 69 others who were involved in months-long public protests that began in February 2014 in response to the country’s ailing economy, high rate of violence, and sharp political divisions. “The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protesters in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally … It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country,” High Commissioner Al Hussein stated. [OHCHR Press Release] Read more

European Court of Human Rights Finds Medical Students’ Observation Violated Patient’s Right to Privacy, in Konovalova v. Russia

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

In a new judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has addressed a novel issue in human rights law: whether allowing medical students to observe a childbirth without the mother’s explicit consent violated her right to privacy. [ECtHR Press Release] The applicant, Ms. Yevgeniya Konovalova, argued that the unauthorized presence of medical students during her childbirth unlawfully interfered with her privacy rights and was neither necessary nor proportionate to the needs of a democratic society. The Court unanimously held that Russia violated Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and ordered the State to pay Ms. Konovalova 3,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 200 euros for costs and expenses. ECtHR, Konovalova v. Russia, no. 37873/04, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 9 October 2014. Read more

IACtHR Concludes 105th Ordinary Session, Orders Provisional Measures, Holds Public Hearing, and Delivers Judgments Involving Forced Disappearance, Indigenous Rights, and Arbitrary Killings

The Inter-American Court holds a hearing in Canales Huapaya et al. v. PeruCredit: IACtHR
The Inter-American Court holds a hearing in Canales Huapaya et al. v. PeruCredit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court holds a hearing in Canales Huapaya et al. v. Peru
Credit: IACtHR

From October 8 to 17, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its 105th Regular Session at its headquarters in San José, Costa Rica. [IACtHR] During this session, the Court handed down three judgments, which will be publicized soon, concerning forced disappearance, indigenous land rights, and arbitrary killings. The Court also issued orders regarding provisional measures in three cases. On October 17, the Court held a public hearing on a pending case, Canales Huapaya et al. v. Peru, involving the right to a fair trial and judicial protection. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish)] Read more

In Baytar v. Turkey, European Court of Human Rights Holds Criminal Defendants Have the Right to an Interpreter during Investigatory Proceedings

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

Earlier this week, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that a criminal defendant has the right to free assistance from a translator during criminal investigatory proceedings if language barriers prevent the accused from having a full understanding of the consequences of waiving his or her rights to keep silent and to legal assistance. See ECtHR, Baytar v. Turkey, no. 45440/04, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 14 October 2014 (French only). The applicant, Ms. Baytar, was questioned in police custody without the assistance of an interpreter, and argued that this violated her right to a fair hearing and to the assistance of an interpreter under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release] The Court held that when criminal arrestees do not have a command of the language, States have the obligation to provide free translation assistance at the beginning of the investigation proceedings. [ECtHR Press Release] The Court ordered the State to pay Ms. Baytar 1,500 euros for non-pecuniary damages and 1,300 euros for costs and expenses. [ECtHR Press Release] Read more

New Advisory Opinion and Country Visit by the Inter-American Human Rights Bodies Clarify the Rights of Migrant Children

IACHR visits the U.S. southern borderCredit: Daniel Cima / IACHR
IACHR visits the U.S. southern borderCredit: Daniel Cima / IACHR

IACHR visits the U.S. southern border
Credit: Daniel Cima / IACHR

Last month, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released an Advisory Opinion defining the scope of States’ obligations to protect the rights of migrant children and families. See I/A Court H.R., Rights and Guarantees of Children in the Context of Migration and/or in Need of International Protection, Advisory Opinion OC-21/14, 19 August 2014. State Parties to the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man must take this Advisory Opinion into consideration when “designing, adopting, implementing, and applying their immigration policies.” See id.at para. 50. Relatedly, from September 29 to October 2, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted a country visit to the United States, examining the treatment of unaccompanied migrant children who had crossed the southern border into the United States. [IACHR Press Release] The Inter-American bodies’ focus on migrants’ rights comes at a point in time when the United States and Mexico, in particular, are facing scrutiny for their treatment of undocumented migrants – including an influx of children – from Central America. Read more

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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