Published: 1 Dec 2017
EHRAC Bulletin Winter 2017
Welcome to the 28th issue of the EHRAC Bulletin
In this issue, we reflect on measures taken by states in the name of security, which, as our authors argue, breach international human rights. In April this year, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its long-awaited judgment on the 2004 Beslan School Siege, finding the Russian authorities failed to prevent loss of life, and that failings in their approach contributed to casualties and fatalities amongst the hostages. In our leading article, EHRAC Litigation Director Jessica Gavron and Lawyer Jarlath Clifford discuss the judgment’s impact, and the high watermark it has set by confirming state responsibility under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when conducting counter-terrorism operations. Security issues are regularly cited as a justification for invasive surveillance practices; Joyce Man (former EHRAC intern) looks at regional practices which could raise privacy concerns, and possibly breach the human rights standards set by the ECHR.
Also examining regional practices, Rebecca Shaeffer (Fair Trials International) details plea bargaining systems in place in Russia, Ukraine and the South Caucasus, and some of the problems they pose for ensuring the guarantee of a fair trial. The importance of an independent judiciary is not to be underestimated: Professor Laurent Pech (Head of Middlesex University Law School) examines how ‘capturing the courts’ is a key component of backsliding of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, which could lead to authoritarian rule. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, rule of law has been poorly protected, and this is particularly evident when it comes to the citizenship rights of Crimean residents. Sergei Zayets (Regional Centre for Human Rights, Kyiv) raises the issue of enforced citizenship on the peninsula, and the ways in which strategic litigation could be used to address the resultant forms of discrimination faced by local residents.
The theme of discrimination – on the basis of sexual orientation and gender – is developed in three further articles. The LGBT population in Chechnya has been targeted through violent and systematic abuse over the last year, and the Russian LGBT Network describes the evidence they have collected from victims. Victoria Kerr (former EHRAC Intern) summarises the first report of the UN’s Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, and some of his key concerns. Meanwhile, Gema Fernández Rodríguez de Liévana (Centre for Women, Peace and Security, LSE) analyses the much anticipated General Recommendation 35 from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and analyses its vision for a world free from gender-based violence against women and girls.