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The official opening of the judicial year of the ECHR took place on 26 January 2024. The event included a seminar on the topic Revisiting subsidiarity in the age of shared responsibility, at which many eminent figures from European judicial circles were present. President Síofra O’Leary delivered an introductory speech at the Judicial seminar.
This was followed by the ceremony to mark the official opening of the judicial year 2024. Síofra O’Leary, President of the Court, and this year’s guest Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, addressed representatives from the highest courts of the 46 member States of the Council of Europe and from local, national and international authorities.
President Síofra O'Leary held a press conference that was streamed live on Internet.
The President of the Court gave an overview of the Court's activities in 2023 and presented the statistics for the past year. Accompanied by Marialena Tsirli, Registrar, she then took questions from journalists.
In the case of Danileţ v. Romania the Court held that there had been a violation of the freedom of expression.
The case concerned a disciplinary sanction imposed on a judge by the National Judicial and Legal Service Commission for posting two messages on his Facebook account. The Court found that the domestic courts had failed to give due consideration to several important factors, in particular concerning the broader context in which the applicant’s statements had been made, his participation in a debate on matters of public interest, the question whether the value judgments expressed had been sufficiently based in act and, lastly, the potentially chilling effect of the sanction.
In the case of Dede v. Türkiye the Court held that there had been a violation of the freedom of expression.
The case concerned the dismissal of a bank employee for having sent an email to the staff of his company’s human resources department criticising a senior executive’s management methods. The employer considered that the email had caused a nuisance which had disturbed peace and order in the workplace.
The Court found that the national courts – with which the applicant had lodged a claim for wrongful dismissal on freedom of expression grounds – had not conducted a sufficiently detailed examination of the content of the email in question, in which the applicant had criticised alleged shortcomings in the company’s management.
In the case of I.L. v. Switzerland (no. 2) the Court held, that there had been three violations: prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, and right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention.
The case concerned the lawfulness of the applicant’s detention as part of an institutional therapeutic measure imposed on him, together with his detention conditions and the time taken to examine his application for release.
In the case of U v. France the Court held that there would be no violation of the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment if the decision to remove the applicant to the Russian Federation were enforced.
The case concerned the procedure to remove the applicant, a Russian national of Chechen origin, to Russia. The applicant’s refugee status had been revoked on account of the serious threat his presence in France posed to State security. The Court found, firstly, that the French authorities had, at each stage of the proceedings to enforce the removal measure to Russia, conducted a thorough and in-depth examination of the applicant’s situation. Secondly, carrying out its own up-to-date assessment of the applicant’s individual situation, the Court considered that he had not demonstrated before it that there were serious, proven grounds to believe that, if he were returned to Russia, he would run a real and present risk of being subjected to treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. It concluded that enforcement of the removal measure in respect of the applicant would not, in the circumstances of the present case, violate Article 3 of the Convention.
Forthcoming Judgments & Decisions
Grand Chamber News
The Chamber to which the case Mansouri v. Italy had been allocated has relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.
The case concerns the lawfulness and conditions of a Tunisian national’s confinement on board the ship being used to return him to his country of origin on the basis of a refusal-of-entry order issued by the border police.
Communication of cases
The Court has communicated to the Government of Türkiye five cases covering 1,000 other applications.
The applications concern convictions for membership of an armed terrorist organisation, based on the alleged use of the encrypted messaging application called “ByLock”.
The core issues raised by the applicants have already been judged in the Court’s Grand Chamber case Yüksel Yalçınkaya v. Türkiye. In that judgment the Court highlighted that there were over 8,000 applications on the Court’s docket involving similar complaints. These 1,000 apparent follow-up applications are the first batch to be notified to the Turkish Government. Against that background, the Court decided not to put any questions to the parties or to require any observations on the applications.
The Court has communicated to the Government of Slovakia the application Fico v. Slovakia and has asked them to submit their observations on its admissibility and merits.
The application concerns the secret monitoring of the applicant’s private meetings, when he was an opposition member of parliament after already having been Prime Minster, in the context of an investigation into what was seen as suspected poaching. The applicant is the leader of a social democratic party SMER and the current Prime Minister of Slovakia.
The ECHR has declared inadmissible the application in the case of Ramadan v. France.
The case concerned the applicant’s conviction for having disseminated information about the identity of the presumed victim of a rape for which he was facing trial.
The Court noted that the domestic courts had clarified the concept of a “victim” for the purposes of the Freedom of the Press Act and had reaffirmed that only written authorisation from the person who had lodged the criminal complaint and joined the proceedings as a civil party could have released the applicant from his criminal liability under the law by waiving the duty of secrecy and allowing the dissemination of her identity.
The Court saw no reason to question the assessment by the domestic courts, which had weighed the applicant’s rights and those of the victim in the balance and had arrived at a solution based on relevant and sufficient grounds and found that the impugned interference with the applicant’s freedom of expression had been proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.
On 21 February 2024, President Síofra O’Leary signed the book of condolences in tribute to Robert Badinter, former Minister of Justice of France, opened by the Permanent Representation of France to the Council of Europe in the Human Rights Building, in the presence of Pap Ndiaye, Permanent Representative of France to the Council of Europe, Mattias Guyomar, Judge elected in respect of France, and Marialena Tsirli, Registrar of the Court.
On 9 February 2024, President Síofra O’Leary took part in a bilateral meeting with Alma Zadić, Minister of Justice of Austria, in Vienna. Gabriele Kucsko-Stadlmayer, Section President and Judge elected in respect of Austria, and Anne-Louise Bormann, Judge elected in respect of Denmark, also attended the meeting.
On 8 February 2024, Ambassador Omar Zniber, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, visited the Court and was received by President Síofra O’Leary. Abel Campos, Deputy Registrar of the Court, also attended the meeting.