Important Decisions

Eviction is the most extreme interference with the right to respect for one’s home! An interesting decision by the Court to expel retired officers

Lushkin and others v. Russia 15.12.2020 ( 29775/14 and 29967/14)
Right to housing, eviction and proportionality of intervention in a democratic society.
The case concerned the eviction of the applicant officers and their spouses from the homes provided to them by the army while they were in the military. After their demobilization, they were called to leave the specific apartments in exchange for the concession of other newly built apartments. Their relocation was postponed without their fault, by decision of the Mayor because the new apartments were built without a planning permission. They filed a complaint for violation of the right to respect for their home, because they did not have accommodation to settle.

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Adoption cannot be based primarily on the absence of a relationship between the biological mother and the child. Obligation of the state to take measures for the reunification of the biological family!

M.L. v. Norway 22.12.2020 (app. no. 64639/16)
Inadequacy of a mother to raise her child for psychological reasons. Removal of parental responsibility from the mother. Approval of adoption of her daughter by foster parents, to whom she was placed from the age of 9 days. The domestic authorities based the adoption decision, mainly on the absence of ties between the biological mother and daughter and on her attachment to the foster parents.
According to the ECtHR, although the relationship between the biological mother and daughter was very limited, the placement of the latter in a foster family when she was only 9 days old had left no room for them to develop any real relationship. The ECtHR also pointed out that the applicant’s very limited rights of communication with her daughter (four times a year, for 2 hours at a time) had been decided on the grounds that the parental decision was to be long-term. There was no indication that the domestic authorities had taken any real steps to reconsider the right of communication while the child was in a foster family.

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Protection of vulnerable groups from eviction from the Court! An interesting intervention regarding the protection the home

Béla Németh v. Hungary 17.12.2020 (app. no. 73303/14)
The case concerned the applicant’s not being able to take possession of a property he had bought
owing to a legal moratorium on evictions. State bodies had been exempt from the moratorium. He
had had to wait two years before ultimately being able to exercise his ownership rights.
The Court found that the moratorium had had a basis in law, had served a legitimate interest, and, in
particular, had not deprived him of his legitimate expectation regarding ownership of the property,
merely delayed it.
The Court also found that the applicant’s situation had not been comparable to that of State actors
and as such he had suffered no discrimination

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Inter-state application for the protection of the interests of a governmental organization, ie a Bank that does not enjoy independence from the state, does not fall within the jurisdiction of the ECtHR

Slovenia v. Croatia 16.12.2020 (no. 54155/16)
The case concerned unpaid and overdue debts owed to Ljubljana Bank by various Croatian
companies on the basis of loans granted at the time of the former Yugoslavia.

The Court observed that under Article 34 (individual applications) a legal entity could bring a case
before it provided that it was a “non-governmental organisation” within the meaning of that Article.
The idea behind this principle was to ensure that a State Party could not act as both an applicant and
a respondent in the same matter.
Article 33 of the Convention (inter-State applications) did not allow an applicant Government to
defend the rights of a legal entity which did not qualify as a “non-governmental organisation” and
which therefore would not be entitled to lodge an individual application under Article 34.

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The conviction based on contradictory testimonies of witnesses, a lost video and a witness who was not examined in the Court of Appeals violated the fair trial!

Dan v. Democracy of Moldova 10.11.2020 (no. 2) (app. no. 57575/14)
Evidence, contradictory testimonies of witnesses, non-examination of a key witness, compensatory factors in the lack of evidence and a fair trial.
The applicant was acquitted a second time by the the Court in the same case, which concerned his conviction for bribery.
He was sentenced by an irrevocable decision to 5 years in prison for ribery. The ECtHR ruled in its first appeal that his rights to a fair trial had been violated. Following the conviction, the procedure was repeated in the domestic courts.

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The civil liability of an acquitted driver for driving under the influence of alcohol did not violate his presumption of innocence

Ilias Papageorgiou v. Greece 10.12.2020 (app. no. 44101/13)
Presumption of innocence and civil trials. Civil decisions against the applicant despite the fact that he was acquitted in criminal proceedings for the same facts. The applicant was involved in a car accident and his passenger was injured. He took two breathalyzer tests, with scores of 0.67 and 0.57 mg / l, but was later acquitted by the criminal court for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Lawsuit of the passenger against the applicant and his insurance company. The insurance company brought an action against the applicant. The civil court of first instance ordered the applicant and the insurance company to pay compensation to the passenger, but rejected the insurance company’s claim against the applicant. On appeal, the Athens Court of Appeal ruled that it was not bound by the applicant’s acquittal in the criminal courts and that, under the terms of the insurance contract, the applicant’s conduct relieved the insurance company of its liability. The Supreme Court held that Article 6 § 2 of the ECHR did not require the civil courts to be bound by the judgment of the criminal courts and therefore the Court of Appeal had not questioned the presumption of innocence of the applicant.

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Participation of a judge illegally appointed by the Minister of Justice in an appellate court. Violation of the right of access to a court established by law

Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson v. Iceland 01.12.2020 (app. no. 26374/18)
The case concerned the applicant’s allegation that the new Icelandic Court of Appeal (Landsréttur)
which had upheld his conviction for road traffic offences was not “a tribunal established by law”, on
account of irregularities in the appointment of one of the judges who heard his case.
Given the potential implications of finding a violation and the important interests at stake, the Court
took the view that the right to a “tribunal established by law” should not be construed too broadly
such that any irregularity in a judicial appointment procedure would risk compromising that right.
It thus formulated a three-step test to determine whether irregularities in a judicial appointment
procedure were of such gravity as to entail a violation of the right to a tribunal established by law. It
then proceeded to find as follows.

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Expulsion of a forged foreigner and his separation from his partner and their 3 children. The gravity of the offense cannot outweigh the best interests of the children. Violation of respect for family life!

Unuane κατά Ηνωμένου Βασιλείου της 24.11.2020 (αρ. προσφ.  80343/17)
Απέλαση αλλοδαπού που καταδικάστηκε για πλαστογραφίες αδειών παραμονής. Χωρισμός του με σύντροφο και τρία παιδιά. Δικαίωμα σεβασμού της οικογενειακής ζωής.
Ο προσφεύγων υπήκοος Νιγηρίας, διέμενε μόνιμα με την σύντροφο του και τα τρία παιδιά τους στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο. Απελάθηκαν οικογενειακώς, πλην του τρίτου παιδιού, για λόγους δημόσιας τάξης και ασφάλειας καθόσον οι δύο γονείς καταδικάστηκαν για πλαστογραφία αδειών διαμονής. Οι αιτήσεις ακύρωσης της συντρόφου και των δύο παιδιών έγιναν δεκτές από τα εγχώρια Δικαστήρια, σε αντίθεση με αυτή του προσφεύγοντα, η οποία απορρίφθηκε και εκείνος αναγκάστηκε να αποχωρήσει από το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο. Άσκησε προσφυγή για παραβίαση του άρθρου 8.

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Condemnation of a politician because he did not assist the police in dispersing demonstrations! Violation of freedom of expression

Ιmrek v. Turkey 10.11.2020 (app. no. 45975/12)
Criminal conviction of a politician for participating in demonstrations and non-assistance of the police in the dissolution. Freedom of expression.

The applicant was convicted of propaganda in favor of a terrorist organization. The domestic courts based their conviction on his participation in two demonstrations and his lack of assistance to the police in dispersing the protesters. They considered that he did not have the appropriate reaction to the disputed actions of the protesters, that he only had to warn them, that he had not asked the government commissioner to end the demonstration and had not provided the necessary assistance to him and the police for this purpose.

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The violent arrest of a lawyer-protester by police constituted degrading treatment. ECHR violations due to arrests and overnight detention of protesters

Navalnyy and Gunko v. Russia 10.11.2020 (app. no. 75186/12)
Two protesters were arrested in Bolotnaya Square in Russia in May 2012 during a political demonstration against the government. Their overnight detention in a police station and administrative conviction for violating legal police orders.
One of the protesters, Aleksey Navalnyy, a lawyer and political activist, claimed in his application before the ECtHR that a police officer had used excessive force during his arrest. Both protesters also claimed that their arrest and overnight detention was unjustified and arbitrary, that the administrative proceedings against them were unfair, that the dissolution of the demonstration, their arrest and subsequent conviction were disproportionate and that these violations of their rights were intended to undermine the freedom of assembly.

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