European Convention on Human Rights

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‘Is torture ever justified?’: The European Court of Human Rights decision in Gäfgen v Germany

Natasha Simonsen is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Previously, she worked as a consultant for UNICEF and has interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan. Earlier this month, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights handed down its decision in Gäfgen v Germany. The case raised the classic ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario that features in moral philosophy seminars the world over, forcing the Court to confront the question: is torture is ever justified? Although the Court’s rhetoric emphasised the absolute nature of the prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, that was not borne out in the result, with the majority finding that the admission of evidence obtained as a direct result of inhuman and degrading treatment did not compromise the fairness of the applicant’s trial. The tragic facts of the case are as follows. The applicant lured a 12 year old boy to his Frankfurt apartment and suffocated him, disposing of the body beside a lake and issuing a ransom…

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Grand Chamber Hearings and Preview of Al-Skeini and Al-Jedda

Today the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held joint hearings in  Al-Skeini and others v. UK (no. 55721/07) and Al-Jedda v. UK (no. 27021/08) - webcast available here, statements of facts available here. It would be no exaggeration to say that these are some of the most important cases to come before the Court…

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ECHR Rights at Sea: Medvedyev and others v. France

Dr Douglas Guilfoyle is a Lecturer in Law at University College London.  His research has focussed on the law of the sea and international and transanational criminal law. His book Shipping Interdiction and the Law of the Sea was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. His previous EJIL Talk! posts can be found by clicking on…

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Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi Merits Judgment

The Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. United Kingdom (no. 61498/08) judgment by a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is now out (HUDOC). For our previous coverage, with links and background, see here and here. The shortest possible summary - the applicants won, and the Chamber judgment is a valuable contribution to human rights jurisprudence. Now…

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Report on UK Complicity in Torture

On Tuesday the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights published its report on allegations of UK complicity in torture. I would particularly like to draw our readers’ attention to the Committee’s legal analysis of the scope of the UK’s obligations as a matter of two treaties, the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human…

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