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Monday, 29 November 2010

Court Rules On Austrian Refusal To Allow Gay Marriage

A five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has rejected the referral request relating to the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria (application no. 30141/04) submitted by the applicants.

The Court’s Chamber judgment of 24 June 2010 has thereby become final (Article 44 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

Review Of Conduct of Moldovan Parliamentary Elections

Parliamentary elections in Moldova on 28 November met most Council of Europe and OSCE commitments, international observers have concluded.

Rome launch for new Council of Europe anti-child sexual abuse campaign

A new Council of Europe campaign aimed at fighting the sexual abuse of children has been welcomed by leading Italian experts ahead of its launch in Rome today.

“We need a large prevention strategy,” said Roberta Angellilli, EU Vice president and spokesman for the Rome municipal authority on children’s issues, in an interview with the Council of Europe. “Institutions must speak out and be on the citizen’s side, especially if the citizen is vulnerable.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Italy And Faroe Islands Scoop Song Contest Awards

R.esistance in dub, from Frioul, Italy and Orka, from the Faroe Islands, have won the Public and Jury prizes at the Liet International minority languages music festival in Brittany, France.

The festival - know as the European Minority song contest -  promotes contemporary songs in languages such as  Asturian, Breton, Corsican, Faroese, Frisian, Friulian, Gaelic, Galician, Irish, Sami, and Veps.

It is sponsored by the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the only world-wide agreement designed to protect minority languages.

More Information 

Friday, 26 November 2010

New Venice Commission Visit To Ukraine

Constitutional experts from the Council of Europe will visit Ukraine next week for more talks with the country’s authorities.

The Venice Commission’s team will examine the consequences of a decision by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine which declared unconstitutional the Law on Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine adopted on 8 December 2004 .

Complaint Against France On Roma Returns

A complaint has been received by the Council of Europe alleging discrimination by France in its decision last summer to remove Roma people from the country.

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) lodged the complaint under the terms of the Revised European Social Charter.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Aleksei Lotman: Human Rights Part Of Discussions On Europe’s Energy Future

“The right to a healthy environment is a human right,” said Aleksei Lotman earlier today, at the start of a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly conference on nuclear energy.

At the start of two days of discussions, the Environment Committee chairman underlined the need to strike a balance between human rights and Europe’s future energy needs.

Extra-Judicial Killings In Chechnya

In its judgment delivered today in the case Amuyeva and Others v. Russia (application no. 17321/06), which is not final , the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

Four violations of Article 2 (right to life: killings) of the European Convention on Human Rights

Four violations of Article 2 (right to life: lack of effective investigation)

A violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in respect of the violations of Article 2

The case concerned the extra-judicial execution of the applicants’ four relatives by the military.

Violence Against Women: "A Civil War Is Going On In Our Backyards"

Every month, women are victims of violence on a scale greater than the 9/11 attacks in New York, claims the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.

Lord Prescott To Chair Conference On Nuclear Energy And Climate Change

Lord Prescott, the United Kingdom's former deputy Prime Minister,will chair a discussion on the nulcear impact on climate change in Strasbourg later today

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Conference On Medical Treatment In End Of Life Situations

A conference on the decision making process regarding medical treatment in end of life situations takes place in Strasbourg from 29 November to 1 December.

Health professionals, lawyers, philosophers and sociologists, patients’ associations and national ethic committees’ representatives are expected to attend.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Thousands of Women Suffer Violence Everyday In Europe

"Everywhere and every day in Europe, thousands of women suffer physical or sexual violence just for being a woman. This is unacceptable and that everything must be done to stop it."

The 24 November statement by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Chairman of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

ECHR To Hear Jehovah’s Witness Complaint Against Armenia

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights will today hear arguments in a freedom of religion and conscience complaint brought by a Jehovah’s Witness against Armenia.

Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 23459/03)

Vahan Bayatyan is an Armenian national, born in 1983. He is a Jehovah’s Witness. The case concerns his criminal conviction for refusal to perform military service for conscientious reasons.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Prisoner Wins €17,000 Damages After Turkey Human Rights Breach

On 23 November, the European Court of Human Rights gave written notice of its judgement in the case of Akalın v. Turkey (no. 23480/06)

The applicant, Nuri Akalın, is a Turkish national who was born in 1977 and is currently detained in Kandıra Prison (Turkey). Arrested in 1997 on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation, he was convicted in 2002 by a state security court of attempting to undermine the constitutional order under the criminal code in force at the time.

Europe should accept more refugees in need of safe resettlement

European countries are closing their borders to migrants, arguing that they have room only for “genuine” refugees, who cannot return to their home countries without risking their lives or freedom, says the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, in his latest Human Rights Comment published today

Monday, 22 November 2010

Turkey Hosts Media Conference

A conference to discuss the media’s contribution to intercultural dialogue and the fight against discrimination takes place in Istanbul from 29 November to 2 December.

The event follows similar exchanges held in Seville and Bari.

More information

Czech Republic: “Equal education for Roma children should be guaranteed,”says Commissioner Hammarberg

“There has been virtually no change on the ground in the Czech Republic since the European Court of Human Rights found three years ago that the country had discriminated against Roma children by educating them in schools for children with mental disabilities.”

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg reached this conclusion after a three-day visit to the Czech Republic. He stated that the implementation of this landmark judgment (D.H. and Others v the Czech Republic) “is, worryingly, delayed and it is not clear that this will change in the near future.”

Prison Policy In Europe

“The mood and temper of the public with regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the unfailing tests of the civilisation of a country.”

Winston Churchill’s realisation has greatly informed the Council of Europe’s work in the development of penal policy and its efforts to strike the right balance between sanction, treatment, reintegration and the protection of victims and society.

Friday, 19 November 2010

United Kingdom Signals Its Priorities For CoE Leadership

Court reform, efficiency savings and cost reductions will be at the heart of the United Kingdom’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe, a British peer has revealed.

On 18 November, during a House Of Lords debate on the Council of Europe, Lord Howell of Guildford, speaking on behalf of the government, said: “We are looking to push down the costs of the Council of Europe, to make efficiency savings where possible and to ensure that work undertaken by the organisation is essential and relevant.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland Welcomes Release Of Azerbaijan Blogger

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland hopes the decision by an Azerbaijan court to release a blogger will help to remove concerns about the country’s commitment to free expression.

He said: "I am relieved that Adnan Hajizadeh, one of the bloggers and youth activists arrested in July 2009, was today granted early release by the Baku Appeal Court.

18 November: View From The Court

TramStrasbourg lineE DroitsHomme panneau2Image via Wikipedia
On 18 November, the European Court of Human Rights made known its decision in the following complaints. 
Baudoin v. France (no. 35935/03)*

The applicant, Claude Baudoin, is a French national who was born in 1945 and is currently confined in the difficult patients’ unit at Plouguernével Specialist Hospital (France). In 1975 he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for murder and attempted murder. In 1983 he was compulsorily admitted to hospital on account of his psychiatric problems and violent conduct; since then, he has been in hospital on an almost uninterrupted basis. He submitted that his continued involuntary confinement had been in breach of Article 5 §§ 1 (e) and 4 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Violation of Article 5 § 1 (e)

Two violations of Article 5 § 4

Just satisfaction: EUR 20,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 3,000 (costs and expenses)

Anti-Corruption Committee Finds "Major Shortcomings" In Azerbaijan’s Legislation

Major shortcomings in Azerbaijan’s legislation on corruption and transparency in party funding have been uncovered by a new Council of Europe report.

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) Third Round Evaluation Report on Azerbaijan, published on 18 November, found that the country’s legal framework contains several important deficiencies in relation to the requirements established under the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.

Lord Tomlinson: Fighting Terrorism Could Undermine Human Rights

Governments fighting terrorism may be tempted into “a strong-armed approach that gives public security precedence over the respect for human rights,” Lord John Tomlinson has warned.

Assembly Committee Demands Swifter ECHR Commitment From Nine European Nations

Nine Council of Europe member states have been urged to respond more quickly to European Court of Human Rights judgments to prevent repeat violations.

The Parliamentary Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee has identified Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine as countries with “major structural problems.”

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

New Guidelines For Child Friendly Justice

New guidelines on child-friendly justice, providing governments with guidance on improving children’s access to justice – civil, administrative or criminal - have been adopted today by the Council of Europe.

“The justice system cannot be blind to the fact that children have specific needs and rights,” said the organisation’s Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.

Podcast:Safeguarding Europe's Language Diversity

In this podcast interview, Alexey Kozhemyakov outlines the work of the Council of Europe to support and promote minority langauges.

He also highlights the threat to Europe's cultural heritage if the organisation's 47 member states fail to ensure language diversity.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland Warns Europe Against ECHR Defiance On Iraqi Returns

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has warned Council of Europe member states preparing to return Iraqi citizens to Iraq not to violate a European Court of Human Rights decision.

Estonia: A Leader In Europe's E-Democracy

A European Institute politics expert has revealed that Estonia is now considered a leader in Europe's experiment with electronic democracy.

Kristjan Vassil told a 16 November conference in Strasbourg to launch the Council of Europe's E-Voting handbook that some 100,000 of the country's estimated 600,000 voters now use the internet to choose governing officials.

Couple Wins €190,000 From Portugal After Human Rights Breach

Two former owners of expropriated land in Portugal who complained that their court fees were more than the compensation they received have won the backing of Europe’s top judges.

In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case Perdigão v. Portugal (application no 24768/06), which is final , the European Court of Human Rights held, by fourteen votes to three, that there had been:

A violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court held, by 14 votes to three, that Portugal was to pay the applicants EUR 190,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.

New Guidelines On E-Voting

New Council of Europe guidelines on electronic voting will be published on 17 November.

According to Susanne Caarls, author of the E-Voting handbook, the publication does not argue either for or against the introduction of e-voting but is designed to provide assistance and guidance to those who are considering introducing it.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Europe Must Fight The Rise Of Hate Speech

Social decline is spurring radicalization and hate speech in Europe, according to Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers.

Report: Human Rights For Transgender People

In ‘Human Rights And Gender Identity,’ Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights stakes out the key battlegrounds in the anti-discrimination campaign waged by transgender people.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Turkey Announces Priorities As Chair of CoE Committee Of Ministers

Improving the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights and encouraging EU accession to the Human Rights Convention will be at the heart of Turkey’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

Turkey Signs Up To Global Cybercrime Treaty

Prof. Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign...Image via Wikipedia
Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs, has today signed the Convention on Cybercrime and the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

Croatia in Violation Of Social Charter

A decision of the European Committee of Social Rights with regard to the case Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Croatia (Complaint no. 52/2008) became public today.

New South-Eastern Europe Joint Project To Fight Cybercrime

A joint project between the Council of Europe and the European Union is now underway to fight cybercrime in south east Europe.

ECHR Case Law On Violence Against Women

Domestic violence against woman.Image via Wikipedia
Case law on violence against women from the European Court of Human Rights provides a powerful incentive for the Council of Europe’s 47 member states to sign and ratify a new anti-violence treaty to be unveiled next year.

Anti-Corruption Unit Publishes Report On Bulgaria

An evaluation report on Bulgaria published today calls on national authorities to "increase consistency and effective implementation of the rules on party financing" and to make "legal improvements in the criminalisation of corruption."

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Anti-Violence Treaty Nears Completion

Domestic violence against woman.Image via Wikipedia
A draft treaty combating violence against women and domestic violence is nearing completion, according to reports.

Roma And Sinti families' Rights Violated In Italy

A decision by Italian authorities to segregate Roma and Sinti families in “ghettos,” using discriminatory identification procedures, denied them access to adequate housing and protection of family life.

ECHR Backs Husband And Wife In Surname Dispute With Switzerland

A Swiss man and wife unable to keep their own surnames after marriage have been awarded €14,500 in damages and costs after European Court of Human Rights judges upheld their complaint.

Losonci Rose and Rose v. Switzerland (application no. 664/06)

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Losonci Rose and Rose v. Switzerland (application no. 664/06), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerns the inability of a husband and wife to keep their own surnames after marriage.

Monday, 8 November 2010

View From The Court: Thursday 18 November 2010

Tunnel Report Limited v. France (no. 27940/07)

The applicant, Tunnel Report Limited, is a United Kingdom company based in Cardiff (United Kingdom), with its head office in Farnborough (United Kingdom). It states that it is the successor of another company, Combined Transport Limited (CTL), whose object was the organisation of “piggyback” transport (combined rail/road transport) between the United Kingdom and the continent via the Channel Tunnel. CTL’s activities declined significantly when in 2001 the French National Railway Company (SNCF) reduced the level of rail traffic through the tunnel, citing force majeure, namely the security problems created by the illegal immigrants detained at the Sangatte holding centre, large numbers of whom were attempting to climb on board freight trains travelling to the United Kingdom.

Azerbaijan: Peaceful Elections Welcomed But Democratic Concerns Remain

Parliamentary elections which took place yesterday in Azerbaijan were characterised by a peaceful atmosphere and all opposition parties participated in the political process, but the conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of the country, international observers said in a statement issued today.

Constitutional Experts Visit Bulgaria

Constitutional experts from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission are scheduled to end a visit to Bulgaria today.

The visit, which began on 7 November, follows a request made last July by the Parliament of Bulgaria for a Venice Commission opinion on the new draft law on judicial power and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Bulgaria.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Television Special Highlights Threat Of Medicrime

A Euronews television investigation will reveal the threat posed by counterfeit drugs to European healthcare systems.

The programme, to be broadcast for the first time on Friday 5 November at 11515 (CET), captures a raid by the enforcement unit of the Medicines Agency (MHRA) on premises in the United Kingdom used to store fake drugs.

Viewers will also get inside a MHRA warehouse to see seized prescription tablets worth £10 million.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thomas Hammarberg: Bulgaria Must Respect Minority Rights

In a letter published today to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg expresses his concern at the treatment of the county’s minority groups.

Commissioner Hammarberg highlights the need for the Bulgarian authorities to improve the living conditions of Roma.

He also calls for a guarantee of the right to freedom of religion for all minorities, following the Supreme Court of Cassation’s decision last May to remove the Chief Mufti.

Call For Better Governance At Local Level

Governments and municipal authorities are being urged to sign up to a 12 point plan for good local governance sponsored by the Council of Europe.

Decision-makers in Bulgaria, Norway, Ukraine and Wallonia have already adopted the strategy outlining the 12 principles of good governance.

November Podcast: The Roma Education Deficit

In this month's Brain Candy Podcast, the spotlight falls on the Roma community's education deficit.

At the Council of Europe's Roma summit on 20 October, the organisation's  Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said improving the education of Roma children should be a priority for Europe.

The Roma activist Nicolae Gheorghe reveals that up to 40% of Roma children do not go to school, whilst Costel Bercus, chairman of the Roma Education Fund gives the background to the de facto discrimination at work in schools. He also explains  the incentives offered to Roma parents to keep their children in 'special schools.'

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Venice Commission: Concern At Criminal Case Against Kyrgyzstan Judges

Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, has sent a letter to the President of Kyrgyzstan Rosa Otunbaeva, expressing serious concern of the Venice Commission regarding the criminal case recently opened against several judges of the former Constitutional Court of Kyrgyzstan for decisions taken in the past.

The Commission expressed hope that the issue would be resolved according to the rule of law principles.

File: Venice Commission

Justice In Action: Should Prison Work Count Towards Pension Benefits in Austria?

A Grand Chamber hearing today will receive a complaint from an Austrian convicted criminal that the exemption of prison work from affiliation to the old-age pension system is discriminatory.

The complainant Ernst Stummer also claims that it deprives him of receiving pension benefits.

The hearing will be broadcast from 2.30 p.m. on the Court’s Internet site (