I’m happy to announce that my book Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties: Law, Principles, and Policy is now available in paperback (and for cheap… and even on Kindle – OUP seems to be branching out). I’ve decided to keep a sort of running update on new cases and developments here on the blog. Since the book has been published the European Court in particular has decided a number of relevant cases, chief among them of course Al-Skeini (judgment; my EJIL article), but also Catan and others (judgment; my blog post).
In this (longish!) post I’ll discuss two inadmissibility decisions, Djokaba Lambi Longa v. The Netherlands, App. No. 33917/12, 9 October 2012, dealing with the applicability of the ECHR to the ICC detention unit in The Hague, and Chagos Islanders v. UK, App. No. 35622/04, 11 December 2012, dealing with the applicability of the ECHR to the British Indian Ocean Territory, part of which is the Diego Garcia naval base. Neither is about the extraterritorial applicability of the ECHR as such, but both turn on the interpretation of the jurisdiction clause in Article 1 ECHR. I will then very briefly discuss two cases pending before the UK Supreme Court and the European Court on the applicability of the ECHR to British military personnel stationed overseas but outside areas under the UK’s effective control.
In Djokaba, the applicant, a Congolese national charged with several offences in the Congo, was transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a witness against Thomas Lubanga. He gave evidence before the ICC, but after doing so lodged an application for asylum with the Dutch authorities and also requested the ICC not to transfer him back to Congolese custody, where he feared reprisals. Thereafter followed a diplomatic ping-pong between the ICC and the Dutch authorities which is too tedious to get into here – suffice it to say that the applicant remained in ICC detention. In Strasbourg he claimed that the Netherlands has violated Article 5 ECHR on various counts because of his continued detention and the lack of review thereof.
But any examination of the merits was subject to the threshold question of Article 1 ECHR jurisdiction. In the applicant’s view, as he was located on Dutch territory he was necessarily within the Dutch jurisdiction. In the view of the Dutch government, however, the applicant was in the custody of the ICC, and hence outside the Dutch Article 1 jurisdiction.