Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 6. Januar 2022: die Wertegebundenheit der Demokratie

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

auf unserer ersten Sitzung im neuen Jahr werden wir uns mit den staatsrechtlichen Grundsätzen befassen, die der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte aus der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention ableitet. Sie kreisen alle um die Erkenntnis, dass eine echte Demokratie nicht werteneutral, sondern vielmehr wertegebunden sein soll. Was das konkret bedeutet, lehren uns nicht zuletzt die drei beigelegten Urteile, respektive ergangen in den Rechtssachen Refah Partisi / Türkei, Karacsony / Ungarn und Mugemangango / Belgien.

Ich freue mich auf einen stimulierenden Austausch mit Ihnen.

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

12th Meeting of the Negotiation Group on EU accession

The CDDH ad hoc negotiation group (“47+1”) on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights held its 12th  meeting from 7-10 December 2021. 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 75 delegates participated.

The Group discussed in particular proposals related to the EU’s specific mechanism of the procedure before the European Court of Human Rights, the principle of mutual trust between the EU member states, as well as the situation of EU acts in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy that are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In this context, the Group tentatively agreed on operative provisions and corresponding paragraphs for the explanatory report concerning the triggering of the co-respondent mechanism and mutual trust (reproduced in Appendix IV and V of the meeting report respectively).

Bosphorus presumption applicable to the storing of biometric data on a passport: decision of the ECHR in the case of Willems v. the Netherlands

The case of Willems v. the Netherlands (57294/16, 9.11.2021) concerned the refusal by the applicant to provide fingerprints that would be digitised and saved in his passport and in a database. Applying Regulation 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States, as amended by Regulation 444/2009, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Dutch Council of State dismissed as ill-founded the objections which the applicant had raised in this connection. The applicant then complained before the ECHR inter alia about a violation of Article 8 of the Convention (right to respect for private life).

In respect of the applicable EU legislation, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division considered, after referring questions to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling, that it left no room for the Member States to use alternatives to the prescribed way of storing the biometric data, nor did it provide for any applicable exceptions to the obligation to provide fingerprints.

In light of this finding, the ECHR recalled the requirements for the presumption of equivalent protection (“Bosphorus presumption”) to apply and concluded that they were fulfilled in the present case. As a consequence, there would only be a violation of the Convention in case of a “manifest deficiency” in the protection afforded by it (on this notion, see also Bivolaru and Moldovan v. France). As such a manifest deficiency had not been shown to exist by the applicant, the ECHR declared manifestly ill-founded the applicant’s complaint about a violation of Article 8.

Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 16. Dezember 2021: Rechte und Pflichten von Migranten und Staaten nach der EMRK

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

in unserer nächsten, online durchgeführten Sitzung werden wir uns mit zwei neueren Urteilen befassen, in denen der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte auf der Grundlage der EMRK wichtige Leitlinien für die Migrationspolitik ausgearbeitet hat. Sie betreffen die Rechtssachen N.D. und N.T. / Spanien und M.N. / Belgien. Darin werden die Rechte und Pflichten von sowohl Migranten als Staaten beschrieben, sowie auch die Grenzen, die der Geltung der EMRK gesetzt sind.

In das erstgenannte Urteil wird uns erfreulicherweise eine Hörerin einführen.

Ich sehe einem interessanten Austausch mit Ihnen entgegen.

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

Kolloquium Speyer, Sitzung vom 9. Dezember 2021: Schutz von verwundbaren Personen durch die EMRK

Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer,

Im Mittelpunkt unserer kommenden Sitzung stehen verschiedene Aspekte des Schutzes von verwundbaren Personen durch die EMRK und zwar im Bereich der häuslichen Gewalt und des Menschenhandels. Untersucht werden soll dieses Thema anhand der beiliegenden Urteile in den Rechtssachen Talpis / Italien und Chowdury / Griechenland.

Ich freue mich auf einen interessanten Austausch mit Ihnen.

Darf ich bei dieser Gelegenheit an die Möglichkeit für Interessenten erinnern, auf einer der kommenden Sitzungen die Gruppe über ein kurzes Referat in ein Urteil des EGMR einzuführen? Ein solcher, sehr begrüßenswerter Beitrag berechtigt zu einem Leistungsschein.

Bis Donnerstag,

Prof. Dr. Johan Callewaert

EU law requirements of an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law: judgment of the CJEU in the case of W.Ż.

In the case of W.Ż. (Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court – Appointment) (C-487/19, 6.10.2021) the CJEU ruled on the transfer without consent of a judge of an ordinary Polish court. It held that the order by which the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the Polish Supreme Court, ruling at last instance and sitting as a single judge, dismissed the action of that judge must be declared null and void if the appointment of the single judge concerned took place in clear breach of fundamental rules concerning the establishment and functioning of the judicial system at stake.

In the case at hand, the President of the Republic had appointed the single judge concerned despite a decision by the Supreme Administrative Court ordering that the effects of the resolution of the National Council of the Judiciary recommending the appointment of this judge be suspended pending a preliminary ruling of the CJEU.

Among other things, the CJEU referred to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights concerning in particular the right of members of the judiciary to protection from arbitrary transfer (§ 116), the concept of a “tribunal established by law”, the process of appointing judges (§§ 124-125), the requirement that the organisation of the judicial system does not depend on the discretion of the executive (§ 129) and the need to preserve the integrity of the appointment of judges as a way to avoid reasonable doubt in the minds of individuals as to the independence and the impartiality of the judges concerned (§ 130). In Dolińska-Ficek and Ozimek, the European Court of Human Rights “fully subscribed” to the CJEU’s reasoning (§ 328).

The CJEU also recalled that by virtue of Article 52(3) of the EU-Charter, it must ensure that the interpretation which it gives to the second paragraph of Article 47 of the EU-Charter (right to effective judicial protection) safeguards a level of protection which does not fall below the level of protection established in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention (right to a fair trial), as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (§ 123). However, there is no explicit inquiry or demonstration by the CJEU on whether the Convention level of protection has been respected in the present case.

Rights of the defence and mutual recognition of financial penalties: judgment by the CJEU in the case of Prokuratura Rejonowa Łódź-Bałuty

In the case of Prokuratura Rejonowa Łódź-Bałuty (C-338/20, 6.10.2021), which concerned Framework Decision 2005/214 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties, the CJEU drew on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on the scope of Article 6 of the Convention (fair trial) in order to conclude, by reference to Article 52(3) of the EU-Charter, that addressees of financial penalties falling within the scope of Framework Decision 2005/214 are entitled to rely on the fundamental rights enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 47 and Article 48(2) of the EU-Charter, notably the right to be informed in a language which they understand of the essential elements of a decision imposing such a financial penalty (§§ 29-30). The CJEU furthermore relied on the case-law of the Strasbourg Court in identifying these essential elements (§§ 35-38).

That being so, the CJEU ruled that the competent authority of the executing Member State may, on the basis of Article 20(3) of Framework Decision 2005/214, oppose the recognition and execution of a decision imposing a financial penalty on the addressee thereof where that decision is notified to him or her without a translation of these essential elements into a language which he or she understands and without giving him or her, where appropriate, the possibility of obtaining such a translation (§ 40).

In this connection, the CJEU recalled that according to Article 3 of Framework Decision 2005/214, that Framework Decision shall not have the effect of amending the obligation to respect fundamental rights and fundamental legal principles as enshrined in Article 6 TEU. For this reason, Article 20(3) of that framework decision indeed provides that the competent authority of the Member State of execution may refuse to recognise and execute a decision requiring payment of a financial penalty in the event of infringement of fundamental rights or fundamental legal principles (§ 26).

One may however wonder why the EU legislature has made the refusal to recognise and execute such a decision only optional (“may refuse”) and not mandatory (“shall refuse”). It may be due to the fact that Article 20(3) refers to situations giving rise “to an issue that fundamental rights or fundamental legal principles as enshrined in Article 6 of the Treaty may have been infringed”, thus suggesting some uncertainty as to whether those rights and principles have indeed be breached in the concrete circumstances of the case. By contrast, the CJEU in § 26 refers to situations apparently not giving rise to such uncertainty (“in the event of infringement of fundamental rights or fundamental legal principles”). Maintaining the optional character of a refusal to recognise and execute a decision imposing a financial penalty in such circumstances would not appear entirely consistent with the mandatory principle stated in Article 3 of the Framework Decision (“shall not”), referred to above.

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)