Author Archives: johan-callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 16. Januar 2020

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Im ersten Teil unserer heutigen Sitzung möchte ich mit Ihnen Eindrücke und Gedanken zur gestrigen mündlichen Verhandlung vor dem EGMR in der Rechtssache X. und andere / Bulgarien austauschen.

Anschließend plane ich, mit Ihnen die Wechselwirkung zwischen EMRK und Unionsrecht zu besprechen und zwar anhand eines konkreten Falles: der Rechtssache Dorobantu. Das Urteil des EuGH in dieser Sache liegt bei. Zum besseren Verständnis lege ich außerdem eine Powerpoint-Präsentation bei, die die verfahrensrechtlichen Aspekte dieser Rechtslage dokumentiert.

In der Tat sind die EMRK und das Unionsrecht inzwischen so miteinander verwoben, nicht zuletzt über die EU-Charta der Grundrechte, dass man sie heute nur noch richtig verstehen und anwenden kann, wenn man sie zusammen, d. h. in ihrer Wechselwirkung, in den Blick nimmt. Warum das so ist, möchte ich Ihnen heute abend erläutern.

Nachträglich zu unserer gestrigen Sitzung in Straßburg finden Sie anbei auch noch das Urteil in der Rs. Ilnseher / Deutschland.

Bis heute abend,

Johan Callewaert

Judgment of the CJEU in the case of A.K. (Independence of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court)

In the case of A.K. (19.11.2019) the CJEU dealt with the issue of the independence of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court. In setting out the requirements to be fulfilled under EU law for a court to be independent and impartial, it relied on the second paragraph of Article 47 of the Charter (right to a fair trial), thereby pointing out that, by virtue of Art. 52(3) of the Charter, “the Court must … ensure that the interpretation which it gives to the second paragraph of Article 47 of the Charter safeguards a level of protection which does not fall below the level of protection established in Article 6 of the ECHR, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights” (§ 118).

The CJEU then went on to give an overview of its own case-law on the independence and impartiality of courts (including C-216/18 PPU, Minister for Justice and Equality (Deficiencies in the system of justice) and C-619/18, Commission v. Poland (Independence of the Supreme Court)) and pointed out that its interpretation of article 47 of the Charter was borne out by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention (§ 126) which the CJEU then proceeded to describe in some detail.

One may just wonder why the CJEU did not mention that same Strasbourg case-law in its previous judgment in C-619/18 mentioned above, which deals with very similar issues.

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 9. Januar 2020

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

nach der Weihnachtspause wollen wir uns dem verbleibenden Teil unseres Programms für dieses Semester zuwenden. Im Mittelpunkt der kommenden Sitzung stehen dabei Fragen, die das Tragen von religiösen Zeichen in der Öffentlichkeit bzw. am Arbeitsplatz betreffen. Eine Hörerin wird uns in dieses Thema einführen. Einige einschlägige Urteile des EGMR dazu lege ich bei.

Außerdem möchte ich Sie in die Rechtssache einführen, die Gegenstand der Verhandlung vor der Großen Kammer des EGMR sein wird, der Sie am 15. Januar im Rahmen unserer Studienfahrt nach Straßburg beiwohnen werden. Dazu lege ich das (nicht rechtskräftige) Kammer-Urteil in dieser Rechtssache sowie das Pressekommuniqué zur Verhandlung bei.

Bis Donnerstag,

Johan Callewaert

Judgment of the CJEU in the case of Rayonna prokuratura Lom

In Rayonna prokuratura Lom (19.9.2019) the CJEU ruled on the scope of three of the directives on procedural rights in criminal proceedings, being Directive 2012/13 on the right to information, Directive 2013/48 on the right of access to a lawyer and Directive 2016/343 on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial.

As regards the directives on the right to information and on access to a lawyer, the CJEU stated that these Directives also apply to proceedings for the committal to a psychiatric hospital of a person who committed a criminal offence, provided that such a measure was justified not only on therapeutic grounds but also on safety grounds. The CJEU came to this conclusion by relying inter alia on the case-law of the ECHR on Article 5 of the Convention (right to liberty and security), which also covers deprivations of liberty resulting from psychiatric or medical care measures. After recalling that Art. 6 of the EU-Charter corresponded to Art. 5 of the Convention and therefore, by virtue of Art. 52(3) of the Charter, had to be interpreted having regard to that case-law of the ECHR, the CJEU concluded: “Accordingly, in the light of the right to liberty and security guaranteed by Article 6 of the Charter, Directives 2012/13 and 2013/48 cannot be interpreted as excluding from their scope judicial proceedings in which an order may be made for the committal to a psychiatric hospital of a person who, at the conclusion of earlier criminal proceedings, was found to be the perpetrator of acts constituting a criminal offence.” (§ 46)

Thus, through this new case-law the concept of “criminal proceedings” – and the fair-trial guarantees which go with it – are being extended, for the purpose of the said directives, to “proceedings for committal to a psychiatric hospital which, although they do not lead to a ‘sentence’ in the strict sense, nevertheless result in a measure involving a deprivation of liberty, provided that such a measure is justified not only on therapeutic grounds but also on safety grounds” (§ 41). Moreover, the court dealing with a request for such a committal must have the power to verify that the procedural rights covered by those directives were respected in proceedings prior to those before that court (§ 63).

In simple terms, the procedure for the committal to a psychiatric hospital with a “penal purpose” (§ 71) is being assimilated with standard criminal proceedings on the ground that both can lead to a deprivation of liberty coming under the scope of Articles 5 of the Convention and 6 of the Charter.

By contrast, the CJEU ruled in the same judgment that the Directive on the presumption of innocence – and indeed EU law as such – did not apply to a procedure for the committal to a psychiatric hospital which had a purely therapeutic purpose and was implemented independently of any criminal proceedings (§ 66).

As a result of this case-law, domestic authorities dealing with procedures for the committal to a psychiatric hospital which are governed by any of the above-mentioned directives will now have to combine the safeguards laid down in those directives with the requirements under Art. 5 of the Convention relating to the deprivation of liberty of persons of unsound mind, as they have been recapitulated by the ECHR in the cases of Stanev v. Bulgaria (17.1.2012) and Rooman v. Belgium (31.1.2019). While those requirements to some extent draw on the fair-trial guarantees laid down in Art. 6 of the Convention, they cover many more aspects of the committal than just the rights of the defence.

Finally, as regards the substance of the rights at stake in the present case, it is perhaps worth noting that in relation to the right to information in criminal proceedings as enshrined in Directive 2012/13, the CJEU ruled that the relevant information was to be provided “as soon as possible” and “at the latest, before [the persons concerned] are first officially questioned by the police” (§ 53). This would appear to be in slight contrast with the requirement flowing from Simeonovi v. Bulgaria (ECHR 12.5.2017) according to which this information is to be provided immediately (§ 119).

Judgment of the CJEU in the case of AH and Others

In AH and Others (5.9.2019) the CJEU applied Directive 2016/343 on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings to an agreement with the prosecution in which only one of the co-accused persons had recognized his guilt in exchange for a reduction in sentencing. In doing so, the CJEU considered:

“… it should be noted that the presumption of innocence is enshrined in Article 48 of the Charter, which corresponds to Article 6(2) and (3) of the ECHR, as is apparent from the explanations to the Charter. It follows, in accordance with Article 52(3) of the Charter, that it is necessary to take account of Article 6(2) and (3) of the ECHR for the purposes of interpreting Article 48 of the Charter, as a minimum threshold of protection…” (§ 41)

In light of the above, the CJEU then relied on the judgments of the ECHR in the cases of Karaman v. Germany (27.2.2014) and Navanyy and Ofitrov v. Russia (23.2.2016).

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 19. Dezember 2019

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

in der kommenden Sitzung werden wir uns zwei unterschiedlichen Themen zuwenden. Zunächst wird uns eine Hörerin in die Rechtsprechung des EGMR zur häuslichen Gewalt einführen und zwar im Licht des (nicht rechtskräftigen) Urteils in der Rs. Kurt / Österreich (beiliegend), das zur Neuverhandlung an die Große Kammer des EGMR verwiesen wurde.

Außerdem werden wir uns, aus Anlass der zwei kürzlich ergangenen Beschlüsse des Bundesverfassungsgerichts zum Recht auf Vergessen, mit der Rechtsprechung des EGMR zum gleichen Thema beschäftigen, wie sie im Urteil in der Rs. M.L. und W.W. / Deutschland zum Ausdruck kommt. Ausnahmsweise kann ich eine deutsche Übersetzung dieses Urteils beilegen.

Ich freue mich auf interessante Diskussionen dazu mit Ihnen.

Bis Donnerstag,

Johan Callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 12. Dezember 2019

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

im ersten Teil unserer Sitzung am Donnerstag werden wir unsere Betrachtung der Meinungsfreiheit im Parlament fortsetzen und zwar anhand des Urteils in der Rs. Pastörs / Deutschland, in der es um die strafrechtliche Verurteilung eines Landtagsabgeordneten wegen Verleumdung der Opfer der NS-Diktatur in einer Rede vor dem Landtag geht. In das Urteil wird uns eine Hörerin einführen.

Anschließend werden wir das Thema wechseln und uns der Problematik der unkürzbaren Haftstrafen und der unmenschlichen Haftbedingungen zuwenden, die sich in verschiedenen europäischen Staaten akut stellt und zu wichtigen Entwicklungen in der jüngeren Rechtsprechung des EGMR geführt hat.

Aus gegebenem Anlass und passend zum Thema Haft werden wir uns auch kurz mit dem heute ergangenen Urteil in der Rs. Kavala / Türkei beschäftigen, in dem der EGMR die sofortige Freilassung eines inhaftierten NGO-Gründers fordert. Alle Urteile liegen bei.

Bis Donnerstag,

Johan Callewaert

Landmark judgments of the German Constitutional Court (“Right to be forgotten” I and II)

In two landmark judgments dated 6.11.2019 the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht – hereinafter “GCC”) dealt with the “right to be forgotten” and thereby clarified the relationship between the fundamental rights of the national Constitution (Grundgesetz), the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the first judgment (“Right to be forgotten I” – 1 BvR 16/13) the GCC stated that in areas not fully regulated by EU law it was to be assumed that the EU legislature allowed for some variety also in the field of fundamental rights. In such areas, the GCC would therefore only apply the fundamental rights of the Constitution, even when the EU Charter also applied by virtue of its Article 51(1). It would do so on the basis of a presumption that the level of protection of the EU Charter is already included in the protection afforded by the fundamental rights of the Constitution (§ 55). This presumption, which could be rebutted on a case-by-case basis (§ 63), was rooted not least in the European Convention on Human Rights which is both binding on the EU member States and being relied upon by the TEU (Art. 6(3)) as well as by the Charter itself (Preamble and Art. 52(3) and 53) (§ 56-57). In this connection, the GCC highlighted the role of the European Convention on Human Rights, which was to ensure an overarching minimum pan-european protection as a basis underlying both the national and the EU protection of fundamental rights (§ 62).

The applicant in this case claimed a right to have newspaper articles on his criminal conviction dating back 30 years removed from online archives. The GCC considered that the facts of the case were not entirely regulated by the applicable EU law (Directive 94/46 on the protection of individuals with regard to the protection of personal data; now replaced by the GDPR, 2016/679) in that the latter left some discretion to the member States in applying the so-called media privilege laid down in Articles 9 of the Directive and 85 of the GDPR (§ 12). It thus solely applied the fundamental rights of the Constitution, thereby leaving open the question whether the EU Charter also applied to the facts of the case by virtue of its Article 51(1). At the same time, the GCC took the view that there was no reason to assume that the protection level of the EU Charter would not be respected by its judgment, since the latter relied on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights which, by virtue of Article 52(3) of the Charter, was decisive in interpreting the Charter (§ 154).

By contrast, in the second judgment (“Right to be forgotten II” – 1 BvR 276/17) the GCC stated that in areas fully regulated by EU law only the EU fundamental rights were to be applied, provided they were sufficiently effective. Departing from its previous case-law, the GCC ruled in this context that it would henceforth assess itself compliance of domestic judgments with EU fundamental rights, including the EU Charter, and that it would do so in cooperation with the CJEU, pursuant to Article 267 TFEU (§ 68). The applicant in this case claimed a right to have a hyperlink to an unfavourable media report removed from the list of results provided by a search engine operator (Google). As, unlike in the first judgment (above), the facts of the case did not give rise to the application of the so-called media privilege, the GCC considered that the issue at stake was fully regulated by EU law (Directive 94/46 and the GDPR, as above) and that therefore only the EU fundamental rights, including the EU Charter, applied. It then went on to apply in particular Articles 7, 8 and 16 of the EU Charter, thereby referring to the case-law of the CJEU and, by virtue of Article 52(3) of the Charter, to that of the ECHR. Having regard to those two sets of case-law, the GCC concluded that in the absence of any unsettled issues concerning the interpretation of EU law, there was no need to make a preliminary reference to the CJEU under Article 267 TFEU (§ 137).

One of the striking features of those two judgments is their detailed analysis of how the national Constitution, the EU Charter and the Convention interact in practice and of the consequences at domestic level of the substantive link established by Article 52(3) of the EU Charter between the latter and the Convention. It plays a role notably for the assessment of whether domestic protection levels match EU protection levels (Right to be forgotten I) and of whether a preliminary reference to the CJEU is called for (Right to be forgotten II).

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 5. Dezember 2019

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Das Motto unserer morgigen Sitzung lautet: “EMRK und Demokratie”.

Anlass zu diesem Thema bietet der Fall Mugemangango gegen Belgien, der heute vor der Großen Kammer des EGMR verhandelt wurde (Pressekommuniqué anbei). Darin ficht ein Angeordneter des wallonischen Regionalparlaments das Verfahren an, nach dem dieses Parlament Beschwerden entscheidet, die seine eigene Zusammensetzung betreffen und auf angebliche Unregelmäßigkeiten bei der Zählung der Stimmzettel gestützt sind. Diese Verhandlung war Anlass für anregende Plädoyers zum Verhältnis zwischen Grundrechten, hier insbesondere dem Recht auf freie Wahlen (art. 3 des 1. Zusatzprotokolls zur EMRK), und parlamentarischer Souveränität bzw. Gewaltenteilung. Die Verhandlung können Sie sich übrigens auch im Podcast anschauen (www.echr.coe.int).

Morgen möchte ich daher die Argumente, die von den Parteien in der Verhandlung vorgetragen wurden, zunächst kurz erläutern und sie zum Anlass nehmen, mit Ihnen einige Urteile zu besprechen, in denen der EGMR inhaltliche Vorgaben an die Arbeit der Parlamente bzw. der politischen Parteien gemacht hat. Diese Urteile lege ich ebenfalls bei.

Herzliche Einladung!

Johan Callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer: Sitzung vom 28. November 2019

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Ähnlich wie das Bundesverfassungsgericht misst auch der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte der Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit (Art. 10 EMRK) eine zentrale Bedeutung in einer demokratischen Gesellschaft bei. Dementsprechend weit sind in seiner Rechtsprechung die Grenzen der Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit und dementsprechend eng ist der Raum für Ausnahmen von diesen Rechten (so z. B. in Couderc und Hachette Filipacchi Associés / Frankreich, 10.11.2015). Dennoch ist die Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit auch in Straßburg nicht unbegrenzt. So hat z. B. der EGMR Eingriffe bei Äußerungen zugelassen, die im Internet Hass schüren, religiöse Gefühle grob verletzen oder den Holocaust verneinen. Die Grenzen, die der EGMR damit der Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit aufgezeigt hat, werden wir anhand beiligender Urteile kritisch untersuchen.

Bis Donnerstag,

Johan Callewaert