Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 2. Dezember 2021: Ethische Fragen vor dem EGMR (Teil II)

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Auf unserer nächsten Sitzung werden wir bei den ethischen Fragestellungen vor dem EGMR bleiben, indem wir uns mit der Rechsprechung des Gerichtshofs zur Suizidhilfe beschäftigen werden. Dazu werden wir uns die Leiturteile in den Rechtssachen Pretty / Vereinigtes Königreich und Haas / Schweiz genauer anschauen.

In einem nächsten Schritt werden wir diese Rechtsprechung mit dem Urteil des Bunderverfassungsgerichts zum Verbot der geschäftsmäßigen Förderung der Selbsttötung vergleichen und uns fragen, welche Konsequenzen sich daraus für beide betroffene Rechtsordnungen ergeben.

Bundesverfassungsgericht – Presse – Verbot der geschäftsmäßigen Förderung der Selbsttötung verfassungswidrig

Ich freue mich auf einen spannenden Austausch mit Ihnen.

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 25. November 2021: Ethische Fragen vor dem EGMR (Teil 1)

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Am kommenden Donnerstag werden wir uns mit einigen der zahlreichen ethischen Fragen beschäftigen, die dem EGMR in letzter Zeit, meist unter Bezugnahme auf Artikel 8 EMRK (Recht auf Achtung des Privat- und Familienlebens), zur Entscheidung vorgelegt wurden.

Zunächst werden wir uns, vor dem Hintergrund der in vielen europäischen Staaten derzeit geführten Diskussion um die Corona-Impfpflicht, mit dem Fall Vavricka / Tschechische Republik beschäftigen, bei dem sich Eltern gegen die gesetzliche Pflicht zur Impfung ihrer Kinder im Kindergartenalter gegen verschiedene gängige Krankheiten gewandt haben.

Anschließend werden wir anhand der Urteile in den Fällen Mennesson / Frankreich und Valdís Fjölnisdóttir / Island untersuchen, wie der EGMR zu den vermehrt geltendgemachten Forderungen von Eltern steht, welche die rechtliche Anerkennung ihrer im Ausland unter Inanspruchnahme einer Leihmutter geborenen Kinder begehren.

Ich freue mich auf interessante Diskussionen darüber mit Ihnen.

Bis Donnerstag,

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

The Polish Chamber of Extraordinary Review and Public Affairs not an “independent and impartial tribunal established by law”: judgment by the ECHR in the case of Dolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v. Poland

In the case of Dolinska-Ficek and Ozimek v. Poland (49868/19 and 57511/19, 8.11.2021) the European Court on Human Rights ruled on the requirements of the right to an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, protected by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. It did so in the context of applications brought by two Polish judges who had applied for vacant judicial posts in other courts but had not been recommended for those posts by the National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ). They complained that the Chamber of Extraordinary Review and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court (Chamber of Extraordinary Review), which had examined their appeals against the resolutions of the NCJ, had not been a “tribunal established by law” and had lacked impartiality and independence.

In this connection, the Court recalled: Although the right to a “tribunal established by law” is a stand‑alone right under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, there is a very close interrelationship between that specific right and the guarantees of “independence” and “impartiality”. While all three elements each serve specific purposes as distinct fair trial safeguards, the Court has discerned a common thread running through the institutional requirements of Article 6 § 1, in that they are guided by the aim of upholding the fundamental principles of the rule of law and the separation of powers. (§ 315)

The Court found that the procedure for appointing the judges concerned had been unduly influenced by the legislative and executive powers. This had amounted to a fundamental irregularity which had adversely affected the whole process and compromised the legitimacy of the Chamber of Extraordinary Review which had examined the applicants’ cases. The Chamber of Extraordinary Review was therefore not an “independent and impartial tribunal established by law” within the meaning of Article 6 § 1.

In reaching that conclusion, the Court, as previously in Reczkowicz v. Poland, amply referred to CJEU case-law, while applying its own methodology, notably the three-step test formulated in the case of Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson v. Iceland for the assessment of whether a court can be considered a “tribunal established by law” (§ 272).

The Court identified two manifest breaches of domestic law which pertained to fundamental rules of the procedure for the appointment of judges. A first such breach resulted from a radical change of the election model following which the fifteen judicial members of the NCJ were no longer to be elected by their peers but by Parliament. This change had been initiated by a new jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court which the Court considered arbitrary, on account of the absence of a comprehensive, balanced, and objective analysis of the relevant circumstances in Convention terms (§ 317). The Court thereby relied on a similar conclusion by the Supreme Court which had itself conducted an extensive analysis of the domestic legislation in the light of the Convention case-law relating to Article 6 and the CJEU’s ruling in the case of A.K. and Others, to which the Court also extensively referred (§§ 305-306).

The second manifest breach of domestic law resulted from the President of Poland’s appointment of judges to the Chamber of Extraordinary Review despite an interim measure by the Supreme Administrative Court ordering the stay of the implementation of a Resolution by the NCJ recommending candidates for twenty posts of judges in the Chamber of Extraordinary Review, pending its examination of the appeals brought against that Resolution. The Court found that in so doing, the President of the Republic had demonstrated an attitude which could only be described as one of utter disregard for the authority, independence, and role of the judiciary (§ 330) and as blatant defiance of the rule of law (§ 338). It thereby relied on similar conclusions by the CJEU in the cases of A.B. and Others and W.Ż. (§§ 324, 327-328)

Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 18. November 2021: nachträgliche Sicherungsverwahrung und militärische Auslandseinsätze

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

In der kommenden Sitzung setzen wir unsere Untersuchung bedeutender Fälle gegen Deutschland fort und zwar mit zwei Urteilen, welche die ganze Bandbreite des Anwendungsbereichs der EMRK veranschaulichen.

Es geht zunächst um das abschließende Urteil des EGMR, in der Rechtssache Ilnseher, zur nachträglich angeordneten Sicherungsverwahrung, einem Thema, das über längere Zeit in Deutschland umstritten war, nicht zuletzt als Folge der Rechtsprechung des EGMR.

Anschließend werden wir uns dem Urteil in der Rechtssache Hanan zuwenden, bei dem ein missglückter Militärschlag der Bundeswehr in Afghanistan und seine Folgen im Mittelpunkt standen. Eine wichtige Vorfrage war dabei, ob und, wenn ja, in welchem Umfang die EMRK auf einen solchen Sachverhalt überhaupt Anwendung findet.

Bis Donnerstag,

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 11. November 2021: lebenslange Haftstrafen und Androhung der Folter um Leben zu retten?

Liebe Studierende,

am kommenden Donnerstag wollen wir zunächst, gewissermaßen als “follow-up” zum Fall Soering, den wir letzte Woche besprochen haben, die Rechtsprechung des EGMR zu der Problematik der lebenslangen Haftstrafen untersuchen, und zwar im Licht der Rechtssache Trabelsi / Belgien.

Anschließend werden wir uns dem Fall Gäfgen / Deutschland zuwenden, in dem die zentrale Frage war, ob die Androhung von Folter durch die Polizei etwa dann gerechtfertigt sein kann, wenn sie den Zweck verfolgt, das Leben des Opfers eines Verbrechens zu retten.

Die beiden Urteile in deutscher Übersetzung lege ich bei.

Ich freue mich auf einen interessanten Austausch mit Ihnen.

Prof Dr. Johan Callewaert

Erste Sitzung des Kolloquiums am 4. November 2021

Liebe Studierende,

Am kommenden Donnerstag, dem 4. November 2021, um 19.15 Uhr findet die erste Sitzung des Kolloquiums der Universität Speyer zu den Leiturteilen des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte statt. Es ist für alle Studierenden der Universität zugänglich.

Beginnen werden wir mit einer allgemeinen Einführung in die Rolle und die Tätigkeit des Gerichtshofs heute. Danach möchte ich Ihnen die Urteile des Gerichtshofs und ihre jeweiligen Themenbereiche erläutern, die zur Besprechung im Laufe der Sitzungen des Kolloquiums anstehen. Die Liste dieser Urteile lege ich diesem Post bei.

In diesem Zusammenhang weise ich jetzt schon darauf hin, dass für Sie die Möglichkeit besteht, einen Leistungsschein zu erwerben, indem Sie auf freiwilliger Basis im Wege eines kurzen Referats auf einer der kommenden Sitzungen des Kolloquiums in ein Urteil des EGMR einführen.

Herzlich Willkommen an alle Interessierte!

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

11th Meeting of the Negotiation Group on EU accession

The negotiation group (“47+1”) on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights held its 11th meeting from 5 – 8 October 2021. Due to the COVID-pandemic, the meeting was held as a hybrid meeting (i.e. with delegates participating both in the meeting room and via video-conference). In total, more than 70 delegates participated.

The Group discussed proposals related to the EU’s specific mechanism of the procedure before the European Court of Human Rights, the operation of inter-party applications (Article 33 of the Convention), the principle of mutual trust between EU member states and other provisions of the draft Accession Agreements (notably Articles 6-8). The Group will hold its next meeting from 7-10 December 2021.

The ECHR recalls its case-law on the obligation for courts to give reasons when dismissing a request for a preliminary ruling by the CJEU: decision in the case of Quintanel v. France

By a decision in the case of Josette Quintanel v. France and 14 other applications (no. 12528/17 et seq., 17.6.2021) the ECHR declared inadmissible 15 applications against France which, inter alia, complained about the alleged failure by several administrative courts to properly motivate their refusal to grant the applicants’ requests that some EU law issues be referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling.

The ECHR first recalled that only the national courts which, under Art. 267 TFEU, are bound to turn to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling, i. e. those courts against whose decisions there is no judicial remedy under national law, are also under an obligation, flowing from Art. 6 of the Convention, to give reasons when dismissing a request by a party to the domestic proceedings for an EU law issue to be submitted to the CJEU (§ 89).

Consequently, in the present case only the Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Administrative Court) was bound to give reasons for its refusal to refer the case to the CJEU, which it had actually not done. However, the ECHR noted that a lower administrative court acting in the same case had previously well explained that in view of relevant CJEU case-law on the issue at hand such a referral was not required under Art. 267 TFEU. This being so, the ECHR considered that having regard to the proceedings as a whole, an answer compliant with Art. 6 of the Convention had been given to the applicant who had therefore been enabled to understand the reasons underlying the contested dismissal (§ 90). Consequently, Art. 6 had not been breached.

Freedom to wear visible political, philosophical or religious signs in the workplace: judgment of the CJEU in the case of Wabe and MH Müller Handel

In the cases of Wabe and MH Müller Handel (joined cases C-804/18 and C-341/19, 15.7.2021) the CJEU ruled on prohibitions on the wearing of visible forms of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace, thereby applying Directive 2000/78 of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. The two complainants before the referring courts, respectively a special needs carer and a sales assistant, had both been prevented from wearing an Islamic headscarf on the basis of internal rules, applicable in their respective companies, which prohibited the wearing of any visible signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace.

Pursuant to Directive 2000/78, and in keeping with its previous case law (G4S Secure Solutions and Bougnaoui and ADDH), the CJEU carefully distinguished between direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. It thereby recalled that by virtue of Article 52(3) of the EU-Charter of fundamental rights, the right to freedom of conscience and religion, enshrined in Article 10(1) of the EU-Charter, corresponds to the right guaranteed in Article 9 of the Convention and has therefore the same meaning and scope as the latter provision (§§ 48 and 81). However, the CJEU did not draw any conclusions from this correspondence in terms of the limitations to which that right can be subjected.

Rather, it assessed the issue through the prism of the requirement of equal treatment, as prescribed by Directive 2000/78, which is presented as a specific expression of the general principle of non-discrimination enshrined in Article 21 of the EU-Charter (§ 62). At the same time, the CJEU stressed that the interpretation of Directive 2000/78 had to be done having regard not only to Articles 10 and 21 of that Charter but also to the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions (Article 14(3) of the EU-Charter) and the freedom to conduct a business (Article 16 of the EU-Charter) at stake in the present cases (§ 84).

Interestingly, the CJEU also considered that a national provision such as Article 4(1) of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz), which requires limitations to the freedom of religion and conscience to be justified by the demonstration of specific rather than general risks, could be applied at domestic level as a provision which is more favourable to the protection of the principle of equal treatment within the meaning of Article 8(1) of Directive 2000/78. Consequently, such a national provision offering a higher protection of the freedom of religion and belief than did Directive 2000/78 could be taken into account in examining the appropriateness of a difference of treatment indirectly based on religion or belief (§ 89).

One might wonder whether this opening towards more protective domestic provisions requiring limitations to the freedom of religion and belief to be justified by evidence of specific rather than general risks might perhaps also ease the tension seemingly existing between the Luxembourg case-law described above and the Strasbourg case-law on the same issue based on Article 9 of the Convention, notably the Eweida jurisprudence (Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom, 15.1.2013, 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10) which is indeed also based on a case-by-case approach and, thus, necessarily focuses on specific risks.

Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court: judgment of the ECHR in Reczkowicz v. Poland

In the case of Reczkowicz v. Poland (22.7.2021, 43447/19), the ECHR found that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court had not been a “tribunal established by law” and had lacked impartiality and independence. After abundently referring to several international legal instruments, including the case-law of the CJEU on the recent reform of the judiciary in Poland (notably joined Cases C‑585/18, C-624/18, C-625/18), the ECHR stated inter alia:

The right to a fair trial under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention must be interpreted in the light of the Preamble to the Convention, which, in its relevant part, declares the rule of law to be part of the common heritage of the Contracting States. The right to “a tribunal established by law” is a reflection of this very principle of the rule of law and, as such, it plays an important role in upholding the separation of powers and the independence and legitimacy of the judiciary as required in a democratic society. … It is also to be reiterated that although the right to a “tribunal established by law” is a stand alone right under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, there is a very close interrelationship between that specific right and the guarantees of “independence” and “impartiality”. (§ 260)