Caviar, Corruption and Compliance – New Challenges for the Council of Europe

Compliance with judicial decisions often poses challenges, all the more so when international courts such as the European Court of Human Rights are involved. How to react to a failure to abide by judgments of the ECHR has been a question for the Council of Europe for some time. But the suspicious background of a currently unfolding episode involving Azerbaijan may offer an unusually clear justification for a strong reaction even to a single case of non-compliance.

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The Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Copenhagen Declaration – a Reply to Helga Molbæk-Steensig

In her blog post “Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?”, Helga Molbæk-Steensig analyses the making of the Copenhagen Declaration; the most important outcome of the Danish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Molbæk-Steensig agrees with most commentators that the declaration does not reflect the Danish government’s “strong discourse of sovereignty and democratic deficit in the Danish debate“. We certainly agree on this point, but we cannot agree with Molbæk-Steensig when she claims that we – Denmark’s national human rights institution – played a passive, or even negative, role during the making of the declaration. We especially disagree when Molbæk-Steensig implies that we somehow legitimise a far-right narrative designed to limit the system of human rights protection in Europe or subscribe to a reductionist concept of democracy.

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Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?

The final version of the Copenhagen Declaration has turned out to be a lot less dramatic than the original draft led many observers to believe. This leaves several questions of why. Why did Denmark, traditionally a frontrunner country, create a draft declaration so regressive it gave rise to harsh critiques from the Council of Europe Assembly, from academia and from civil society? Why was the Danish Minister of Justice glossing over the content of the declaration? Why has the Danish Institute of Human Rights been so relatively quiet throughout the whole debacle?

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The Copenhagen Declaration: Are the Member States about to Pull the Teeth of the ECHR?

On Thursday, the member states of the European Convention of Human Rights will meet in Copenhagen to adopt a joint declaration on the future of the human rights system in Europe. The Draft of the Copenhagen Declaration, presented on 5 February 2018 and sponsored by the current Danish Presidency of the Council of Europe, has met with considerable alarm on the part of human rights activists and academics. It makes unclear, ambiguous or inaccurate statements that could represent a serious crisis of the system if not redefined in the adoption of the final Declaration.

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The Incompatibility of the Definition of Torture in Greece with International Law

In Greek criminal law, torture is defined primarily as the “planned” (μεθοδευμένη) infliction by a state official on a person of severe physical, and other similar forms of, pain. Under the established Greek case law and doctrine in order for the infliction of pain to be considered as “planned” it must be repeated and have a certain duration. This definition raises serious issues of compatibility with international human rights law.

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Warum ein Opt-out aus der EMRK für britische Streitkräfte eher unwahrscheinlich ist

Die britische Premierministerin Theresa May will die Streitkräfte von den Verpflichtungen der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention befreien. Folgt daraus, dass Schadensersatzklagen von Opfern demnächst als unzulässig abgewiesen werden? Oder dass das Vereinigte Königreich nicht mehr an die EMRK gebunden ist, wenn es seine Streitkräfte in den Einsatz schickt? Wohl kaum.

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Straßburg nimmt den Kampf gegen Überwachungsstaat auf

Die Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention schützt uns davor, dass unser Staat zu einem Überwachungsstaat mutiert. Das zumindest ist der Anspruch, den der Straßburger Menschenrechtsgerichtshof vor wenigen Wochen in seiner epochalen und in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit viel zu wenig wahrgenommenen Entscheidung Sacharow v. Russland aufgestellt hat: Wenn Polizei oder Geheimdienst die Telefon- und Internetkommunikation von buchstäblich jedem überwachen darf, dann darf auch buchstäblich jeder dagegen klagen. Und wenn es an hinreichend robuster Kontrolle dieser Überwachung fehlt, dann verletzt sie buchstäblich jeden von uns in unserem Recht auf Privatsphäre. Vielleicht hatte die vergleichsweise geringe Resonanz auch damit zu tun, dass es ein russischer Fall war. Aber heute hat es mit der Kammerentscheidung Szabó v. Ungarn den ersten EU-Staat erwischt. Es wird nicht der letzte bleiben.

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