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Tiina – East European Yearbook on Human Rights

Posts from: Tiina

COVID-19-Related Sanitary Crisis and Derogations under Article 15 of the Convention: Considerations in Estonia
Maris Kuurberg
Abstract Article
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia was one of the states that decided to inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the health-related emergency situation in Estonia and noted, with reference to Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that some emergency measures may involve a derogation from certain obligations under the Convention. The Government’s considerations proceeded from the unprecedented scale of the sanitary crisis and the scope of extraordinary measures taken to tackle it. Importance was attached to the fact that the Court has never before assessed health-related exceptions allowed in some of the articles of the Convention in a situation which affects the whole nation – not to mention the articles of the Convention which do not set out any exceptions at all. Article 15 of the Convention, on the other hand, is designed to be applicable in public emergency situations threatening the life of the nation.

Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania: Recognizing Individual Harm Caused by Cyber Hate?
Viktor Kundrák
Abstract Article
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The issue of online hatred or cyber hate is at the heart of heated debates over possible limitations of online discussions, namely in the context of social media. There is freedom of expression and the value of the internet in and of itself on the one hand, and the need to protect the rights of victims, to address intolerance and racism, as well as the overarching values of equality of all in dignity and rights, on the other. Criminalizing some (forms of) expressions seems to be problematic but, many would agree, under certain circumstances, a necessary or even unavoidable solution. However, while the Court has long ago declared as unacceptable bias-motivated violence and direct threats, which under Articles 2, 3 and 8 in combination with Article 14 of the ECHR, activate the positive obligation of states to effectively investigate hate crimes, the case of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania presented the first opportunity for the Court to extend such an obligation to the phenomenon of online verbal hate crime. This article will first address the concepts of hate speech and hate crime, including their intersection and, through the lens of pre-existing case law, identify the key messages for both national courts and practitioners. On the margins, the author will also discuss the issue of harm caused by verbal hate crime and the need to understand and recognize its gravity.

The Question of Jurisdiction: The Impact of Ultra Vires Decisions on the ECJ’s Normative Power and Potential Effects for the Field of Data Protection
Carsten M. Wulff
Abstract Article
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The ultra vires judgment of the German Constitutional Court on the debt security purchasing of the ECB system sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Some scholars see the legal framework, specifically the principle of the supremacy of the European Union in danger. This article argues that the judgment is a challenge for Luxembourg; however, there have been warning signs from the Czech Republic and Denmark that constitutional courts will not shy away from criticizing, when the ECJ oversteps its jurisdiction. The author argues that the judgment may weaken the overall normative power of the court and will assess whether a similar judgment could occur in the field of data protection and national security exceptions. The only way back to normality will be for the court to ensure it does not overstep its jurisdiction and the European Institutions unconditionally backing the ECJ in the expected upcoming conflict with the constitutional courts of Member States.

Human Rights Practice Review: The Czech Republic
Viktor Kundrák and Maroš Matiaško
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Kosovo
Sabiha Shala
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Poland
Vita Czepek and Jakub Czepek
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Enis Omerović and Lejla Zilić
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Belarus
E. Konnova and P. Marshyn
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Croatia
Matija Miloš
Article
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On Lessons Learned and Yet to Be Learned: Reflections on the Lithuanian Cases in the Strasbourg Court’s Grand Chamber
Egidijus Kūris
Abstract Article
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During the two-and-a-half decades while Lithuania has been a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has decided five Lithuanian cases. They all (perhaps but one) raised controversial issues not only of law but also of those pertaining to matters non-legal: psychology, politics, history and so on. There had been follow-ups to most of them, allowing for consideration as to the merits and disadvantages of the respective judgments. These cases are narrated on in their wider-than-legal context and reflected upon from the perspective of their bearing on these issues and of the lessons they taught both to Lithuania, as a respondent State, and to the Court itself.

Reasoning in Domestic Judgments in New Democracies: A View from Strasbourg
Dragoljub Popović
Abstract Article
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One of the shortcomings in the functioning of the justice systems in new democracies consists of insufficient reasoning in judgments. The European Court of Human Rights (Court) had to deal with the issue in cases in which applicants invoked Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Convention). The Court’s case law developments concerning the issue are analysed in this article. The general rule emerged in leading cases and was subsequently followed. It says there is an obligation incumbent on national courts to provide reasons for their judgments. Therefore, insufficient reasoning in a judgment given at the domestic level of jurisdiction provides grounds for finding a violation of Article 6 of the Convention. The problem of lack of adequate reasoning in domestic judgments has been given attention among scholars, judges and practising lawyers in new democracies. The Court’s jurisprudence provides guidance to solutions aimed at improvement of the administration of justice in those countries, which are Member States of the Convention.

The Right of Appeal against a Decision on Disciplinary Liability of a Judge
Taras Pashuk
Abstract Article
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This article deals with the questions of scope and the standard of judicial review of a disciplinary decision against a judge. It further addresses the issue of remedial powers, which should be granted to the reviewing authority in this type of cases. It is suggested that the scope of judicial review of a disciplinary decision against a judge should extend to questions of law, fact and discretion. What actually varies is the depth of review or, more precisely, the standards of review and the corresponding level of deference, which must be demonstrated to the primary decision-making authority. It is further suggested that there are several factors that have influence on the formation of the standards of review: the institutional, procedural and expertise factors. As to the remedial capacity, the reviewing court should be provided with the competence to apply adequate remedial measures. The reviewing court should be able to effectively eliminate the identified shortcomings in the proceedings before the first-instance authority. For the effective protection of the rights at issue, it may be important for the reviewing court not only to repeal the decision subject to review, but also take other remedial measures. The legitimacy and necessity for applying particular remedial action should be established by taking into account the same institutional, procedural and expertise factors.

Primus Inter Pares? In Search of ‘Fundamental’ Human Rights
Julia Kapelańska-Pręgowska
Abstract Article
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International human rights law is one of the most developed and codified regimes (branches) of public international law. Since 1948 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the number and scope of human rights standards evolved considerably. Prima facie this tendency reflects a generally positive phenomenon and is driven by the human rights approach in international law, but at the same time it may raise questions of the system’s efficiency, internal coherence, hierarchy of rights and mechanisms of protection and monitoring. Against the richness of human rights standards, designations such as ‘fundamental’, ‘essential’, ‘basic’, ‘crucial’ or ‘core’ are being used and ascribed to diverse concepts (inter alia, customary international human rights, erga omnes obligations, non-derogable rights, jus cogens or absolute rights). The article explores the provisions of general human rights instruments – the UDHR, the two Covenants and regional treaties, as well as relevant case-law of the ICJ, ECtHR and IACtHR in search of a definition and catalogue of fundamental human rights.

The Smuggling of Migrants across the Mediterranean Sea: A Human Rights Perspective
J. Shadi Elserafy
Abstract Article
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Irregular migration by sea is one of the most apparent contemporary political issues, and one that entails many legal challenges. Human smuggling by sea is only one aspect of irregular migration that represents a particular challenge for States, as sovereignty and security interests clash with the principles and obligations of human rights and refugee law. In dealing with the problem of migrant smuggling by sea, States have conflicting roles, including the protection of national borders, suppressing the smuggling of migrants, rescuing migrants and guarding human rights.
The legal framework governing the issue of migrant smuggling at sea stems not only from the rules of the law of the sea and the Smuggling Protocol but also from rules of general international law, in particular human rights law and refugee law. The contemporary practice of States intercepting vessels engaged in migrant smuggling indicates that States have, on several occasions, attempted to fragment the applicable legal framework by relying on laws that allow for enhancing border controls and implementing measures that undermine obligations of human rights and refugee law. This article seeks to discuss the human rights dimension of maritime interception missions and clarify as much as possible the obligations imposed by international law on States towards smuggled migrants and whether or not these obligations limit the capacity of States to act.

Human Rights Practice Review: Albania
Anisia Mandro
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: The Russian Federation
Igor Bartsits, Oleg Zaytsev and Kira Sazonova
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Ukraine
Tetyana Antsupova
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Estonia
Ingrid Kauler
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Hungary
Alexandra Sipos
Article
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Editors' Welcome to the Yearbook
Mart Susi, Vesna Crnić-Grotić, Michał Balcerzak
Article
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Politics and Pragmatism: The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and its 20 Years of Engagement with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Bill Bowring
Abstract Article
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After the highly controversial YUKOS judgment of 19 January 2017, on 23 May 2017 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (CCRF) delivered a warmly received judgment, in which the provisions of the administrative offences legislation prohibiting stateless persons to challenge the reasonableness of their detention in special detention facilities was found to be unconstitutional. The CCRF was addressed by leading Russian human rights advocates. The judgment referred not only to Article 22 of the Russian Constitution but also to the analogous Article 5 of the ECHR. The judgment paid special attention to case-law: Guzzardi v. Italy (1980), Kemmache v. France (1994), Kurt v. Turkey (1998), Aleksei Borisov v. Russia (2015), and Z.A. v. Russia (2017), as well as Alim v. Russia (2011), Shakurov v. Russia (2012) and Azimov v. Russia (2013). Indeed, Strasbourg jurisprudence has played a central role in the development of the CCRF’s jurisprudence since Russia’s ratification of the ECHR in 1998. This article analyses and seeks to explain what in the author’s view is the CCRF’s serious engagement with a body of pan-European quasi-constitutional law, with which Russian jurists feel surprisingly comfortable and experienced. Is there really a cultural incompatibility between Russian and ‘Western’ approaches to human rights law?

The European Court of Human Rights in the States of the Former Yugoslavia.
Jernej Letnar Černič
Abstract Article
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The countries of the former Yugoslavia have in past decades failed to fully meet both the challenges of the socio-economic environment and of the full-fledged functioning of the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Their development was in the first decade halted by the inter-ethnic wars, while in the second decade their institutions have been hijacked by various populist interest groups. All the countries of the former Yugoslavia have been so far facing a constant crisis of liberal democratic institutions of the modern state, based on the rule of law. Only a small number of them have decided to accept effective measures to break away from such crises. In order to present the problems of the newly established democracies in the former Yugoslavia, this article presents and analyses the contributions of the European Court of Human Rights to establishing the rule of law and effective human rights protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. In the closing part of the article, conclusions are drawn on how those countries should proceed to internalize the values of human rights protections in liberal democracies.

Regional Judicial and Non-judicial Bodies: An Effective Means for Protecting Human Rights?
Ján Klučka
Abstract Article
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Regional human rights systems consisting of regional bodies, instruments and mechanisms play an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights. If one’s rights are not protected on the domestic level, the international system comes into play and protection can be provided either by the regional or global (UN) system. Regional mechanisms of human rights today cover five parts of the world, namely: Africa, the Americas, Europe, Arab countries and the Asia-Pacific. They differ in their origin, resulting from different concepts of human rights and the need of interested states to establish a regional framework for human rights protection. The level and scope of their human rights protection is obviously uneven, although this protection is generally higher in regions with democratic states that have constitutional and rule of law regimes in which human rights are considered an integral part of their constitutional architecture. However, current practice confirms that the creation of judicial systems for the protection of human rights within the context of concrete regions does not automatically guarantee the right of direct access of individuals to them. The regional particularities of locus standi result from a set of factors having historic, religious, ethnic and other nature. In the institutional system of protection of human rights, these particularities manifest also through the optional (non-compulsory) jurisdiction of regional judicial bodies, the preventive ‘filtering’ systems before non-judicial bodies (commissions) combined with the right to bring the case before a judicial body, the systems where different entities are entitled to bring the case before a judicial body but the individual has no such right etc. Nevertheless, the existing practice generally confirms the increasing role of the judicial segment of the regional human rights systems as well as the strengthening of position of individuals within the proceedings before regional human rights judicial and non-judicial bodies. A specific factor in the developing world represents the concept of a ‘strict’ interpretation of sovereignty preventing external control of the respect for human rights before a regional judicial body on the basis of an individual complaint by a concerned person. The specificities of regional systems are without detriment to their widely accepted advantages and benefits. Regional systems allow for the possibility of regional values to be taken into account when human rights norms are defined (e.g. so-called collective rights and duties within the African system), provided that the idea of the universality of human rights is not compromised. The regional systems are located closer to the individual human rights subjects and offer a more accessible forum in which individuals can pursue their cases, and states tend to show stronger political will to conform to decisions of regional human rights bodies. The existence of the regional human rights systems finally allows for the existence of proper enforcement mechanisms, which can better reflect local conditions than a global (universal) system of enforcement.

The European Court of Human Rights and the Central and Eastern European States
András Baka
Abstract Article
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At the time of its creation and during the following 30 years, the European Court of Human Rights was a Western European institution. It was not until the sweeping political changes in 1989-1990 that the Central and Eastern European countries could join the European system of individual human rights protection. The massive and relatively rapid movement of accession of the ‘new states’ to the European Convention on Human Rights had a twofold effect. On the one hand it led to a complete reform of the human rights machinery of the Council of Europe, changing the structure and the procedure. A new, permanent and more efficient system emerged. What is even more important, the Court has had to deal with not only the traditional questions of individual human rights but under the Convention new issues were coming to the Court from applicants of the former eastern-bloc countries. On the other hand, being part of the European human rights mechanism, these countries got a chance to establish or re-establish the rule of law, they got support, legal standards and guidance on how to respect and protect individual human rights. The article addresses some of these elements. It also points out that public hopes and expectations towards the Court – especially nowadays in respect of certain countries – are sometimes too high. The Court has its limits. It has been designed to remedy certain individual injustices of democratic states following common values but cannot alone substitute seriously weakened democratic statehood.

Victims’ Right to Reparation in Light of Institutional and Financial Challenges: The International Criminal Court and the Reparation for the Victims of the Bogoro Massacre
Péter Kovács
Abstract Article
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The aim of the article is the presentation of the recently issued documents – the ‘Order for reparation’ issued by the Trial Chamber II of the ICC and the document called ‘Notification’, recently adopted by the Trust Fund for Victims of the ICC – which are important first and foremost in the reparation procedure of the victims of the Bogoro massacre, subsequent to the case The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga. Second, these documents will also have a considerable impact on the reparation procedures to be carried out by the ICC in the future. The reader can also see the interactions between classic sources of public international law and those norms which are very difficult to be characterized legally but without a doubt play a very important role during the procedure.

Changing Realities: Islamic Veils and Minority Protection
Gábor Kardos
Abstract Article
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Most of the immigrant communities in Europe do not show any signs of giving up their identity. Just the contrary, they seem to be more and more committed to preserving their culture, traditions, language and religion. Their growing numbers and adherence to their culture and traditions have raised the question of whether it would be necessary to accept them as permanent factors in the society, and consequently, to secure for them, beside equality and freedom of religion, other minority rights such as the right to preserve their cultural and language identity. This change might presuppose a renewal of the traditional understanding of the concept of the national minority. To raise the standards for minority rights of immigrants and at the same time to maintain the level of protection of homeland minorities is not an easy but a necessary solution. But even the accommodation of certain aspects of the freedom of religion of migrants is a problem in practice. As far as the public use of Islamic veils is concerned, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights proved to be too lenient towards those state parties which put secularity of public institutions before the freedom of religion of the individual. The dissenting opinions correctly emphasize that the role of the authorities is not to remove the cause of tension by eliminating pluralism but to ensure that competing groups tolerate each other. If the Islamic veils are symbols of pressurization, oppression and discrimination, or proselytism, the intervention of state authorities may be justified but the law cannot presuppose that the aforementioned situations are the prevailing ones. If it does so, the collateral damage at the expense of a basic human right of certain true believers is too high.

Human Rights Practice Review: Croatia
Maša Marochini Zrinski
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Latvia
Bērziņa Lolita, Kučs Artūrs, Vīksna Eva
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Hungary
Kriszta Kovács
Article
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Human Rights Practice Review: Serbia
Jelena Simić
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Lithuania
Vygantė Milašiūtė 
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Poland
Vita Zagórowska and Jakub Czepek
Article
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Human Rights Literature Review: Ukraine
Tatyana Antsupova
Article
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