Europe Team

The Europe research team, based at Middlesex University London, is tracking the selected judgments and decisions listed below, from the Strasbourg and UN human rights treaty bodies, involving Belgium, the Czech Republic and Georgia. These States have been chosen for the research based on a range of specific criteria, including inter alia, that collectively enable the research team to track decisions adopted by the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, thereby making it possible for the research team to examine and compare approaches to the implementation of decisions from different bodies.

Case studies

i. Belgium

UN Human Rights Committee

Sayadi and Vinck v. Belgium, Communication No. 1472/2006, Views adopted on 22 October 2008. Restriction of applicants’ right to travel and attack upon their ‘honour and reputation’ by assisting UN Security Council to place their names on the Consolidated List of the United Nations Sanctions Committee; violation of Article 12 (freedom of movement) and Article 17 (right to privacy) ICCPR.

European Court of Human Rights

B. v. Belgium, Appl. No. 4320/11, judgment of 10 July 2012. Forced return to an allegedly abusive father, resident in the USA, of a child well integrated in Belgium; violation of Article 8 ECHR (right to respect for private and family life).

Bell v. Belgium, Appl. No. 44826/05, judgment of 4 November 2008 – group of cases. Excessive length of civil and criminal proceedings; violation of Article 6(1) (right to a fair trial). 

L.B. v. Belgium, Appl. No. 22831/08, judgment of 2 October 2012 – group of cases. Detention in prison psychiatric wings of high-risk individuals despite identified need for placements in structures adapted to applicants’ pathology; violation of Article 5(1)(e) (right to liberty and security).   This group includes the pilot judgment in the case of W.D. v. Belgium, Appl. No. 73548/13, judgment of 6 September 2016 concerning a structural problem resulting in detention in psychiatric wing of prison with no prospect of change or appropriate medical help; violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment); state required to reduce number of detainees held in prison psychiatric wings without access to suitable therapeutic treatment (Article 46 – pilot judgment). 

Muskhadzhiyeva and Others v. Belgium, Appl. No. 41442/07, judgment of 10 January 2010. Administrative detention of infant asylum-seekers; violations of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 5(1) (right to liberty and security) ECHR in the case of four child applicants; violation of Article 5(4) ECHR (right to challenge the lawfulness of detention) in the case of all child applicants and their mother.

RTBF v. Belgium, Appl. No. 50084/06, judgment of 29 March 2011. Preventive interdiction for the applicant, the French community Belgian radio-television company, to broadcast a television programme; violation of Article 10 ECHR (right to freedom of expression). Dismissal by the Court of Cassation of an appeal under Article 10, for excessively formalistic grounds; violation of Article 6(1) (right to a fair trial).

Taxquet v. Belgium, Appl. No. 926/05, Grand Chamber judgment of 16 November 2010. Lack of adequate procedural safeguards to enable accused to understand reasons for jury’s guilty verdict in Court of Assize; violation of Article 6(1) (right to a fair trial).

Vasilescu v. Belgium, Appl. No. 64682/12, judgment of 25 November 2014. Physical conditions of detention had subjected applicant to hardship exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention; violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment); state required to take general measures to improve conditions of detention and to afford appropriate remedies (Article 46).

ii. Czech Republic

UN Human Rights Committee

L.P. v. the Czech Republic, Communication No. 946/2000, Views adopted on 19 August 2002. Authorities’ refusal to act upon court decisions allowing father regular access to his son; violation of Article 17 ICCPR (protection from arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy and family), in conjunction with Article 2.

European Court of Human Rights

Bureš v. the Czech Republic, Appl. No. 37679/08, judgment of 18 October 2012. Ill-treatment of applicant at a hospital sobering-up centre, in particular by being strapped to a bed for several hours, and inadequacy of investigation; substantive and procedural violation of Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment).

D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic [GC], Appl. No. 57325/00, judgment of 13 November 2007. Discrimination against Roma children in the education system on account of their placement in special schools for children with learning difficulties; violation of Article 14 ECHR (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 to the ECHR (right to education).

Eremiášová and Pechová v. the Czech Republic, Appl. No. 23944/04, judgment of 16 February 2012. Authorities’ failure both to safeguard the right to life of the applicants’ relative and to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding his suicide while in police custody; substantive and procedural violation of Article 2 ECHR (right to life).

Hartman v. the Czech Republic, Appl. No. 53341/99, judgment of 10 July 2003. Excessive length of proceedings in cases concerning recovery of property confiscated under the communist regime; violation of Article 6(1) (right to a fair trial / right to a hearing within a reasonable time) and Article 13 ECHR (right to an effective remedy). 

Wallová and Walla v. the Czech Republic, Appl. No. 23848/04, judgment of 26 October 2006. Taking into care of children from a large family on the sole ground that the family’s housing was inadequate; violation of Article 8 ECHR (right to respect for family life).

iii. Georgia

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

X and Y v. Georgia, Communication No. 24/2009, Views adopted on 13 July 2015. Authorities’ failure to enact criminal law provisions to effectively protect women and girls from physical and sexual abuse within the family, provide equal protection under the law to victims, and protect them from domestic violence; violation of Articles 1 (discrimination against women), 2(b)-(f) (states’ duty to eliminate discrimination) and 5(a) (states’ duty to eliminate sex role stereotyping and prejudice) of the CEDAW Convention.State to, inter alia, providing prompt and adequate support to victims of domestic violence; intensify awareness-raising and training; and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

European Court of Human Rights

Ghavtadze v. Georgia, Appl. No. 23204/07, judgment of 3 March 2009 – group of cases. Structural inadequacy of medical care in prisons, and authorities’ failure to comply with their positive obligation to protect the applicant’s health and to administer sufficient appropriate medical treatment; violation of Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). State required to take appropriate individual and general measures to prevent the spread of contagious diseases in Georgian prisons, introduce a screening system for prisoners upon admission and guarantee the prompt and effective treatment of these diseases (Article 46).

Gharibashvili v. Georgia, Appl. No. 11830/03, judgment of 29 July 2008 – group of cases. Lack of effective investigations into allegations of ill‑treatment allegedly imputable or linked to action or negligence of law enforcement officers, ministerial staff or of the Public Prosecutor’s Office; procedural violations of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). Excessive use of force by the police in the course of arrest and/or in custody; substantive violation of Article 3 ECHR.

Identoba and Others v. Georgia, Appl. No. 73235/12, judgment of 12 May 2015. State’s failure to protect demonstrators from homophobic violence and to launch effective investigation; violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 ECHR (prohibition of discrimination).

Klaus and Yuri Kiladze v. Georgia, Appl. No. 7975/06, judgment of 2 February 2010. Legislative gap preventing victims of Soviet political repression from effectively asserting their rights to compensation; violation of Article 1(1) of Protocol No. 1 to the ECHR (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions). State required to take prompt measures to close legislative gap preventing victims from effectively asserting their rights to compensation (Article 46).

Members of the Gldani Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Others v. Georgia, Appl. No. 71156/01, judgment of 3 May 2007 – group of cases. Authorities’ failure to provide adequate protection for Jehovah’s witnesses against violent assault by a group purporting to support the Orthodox Church and lack of an effective investigation; violation of Articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), 9 (right to freedom of religion), and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Articles 3 and 9 ECHR. Cases joint to the Identoba judgment for joint supervision of the execution.

In the first two years of the project, the Europe team has carried out some 70 semi-structured research interviews involving 100 respondents – including representatives from the executive, parliament, the judiciary and civil society; applicants’ representatives and academics; as well as supranational actors – in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Georgia and in Strasbourg.

Aside from a roundtable stakeholder consultation in Brussels, two workshops in Tbilisi, and a seminar and a Conference panel in Prague, the researchers organised a seminar in Strasbourg, which brought together actors from various Council of Europe bodies (notably the European Court of Human Rights) around the theme of remedial orders.

In conjunction with their desk research, these interviews and roundtables allow the research team to elucidate the factors which impact upon implementation in relation to:

  • structure: the institutions, formal mechanisms and procedures of the respective systems;
  • capacity: the ways in which domestic and supranational actors operate, taking into account issues such as information, expertise, resources and relationships; and
  • attitudinal factors, e.g. different actors’ motivations, interests, incentives and assumptions.

Additional research activities include participation in quarterly civil society briefings for representatives of the Committee of Ministers on judgments pending examination by the Ministers’ deputies; as well as presentations to and participation in relevant regional and international seminars and conferences.

Members of the Europe research team also regularly attend the Plenary Sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held four times a year in Strasbourg. This participation enables the research team to engage with Assembly members as well as Secretariat staff; to keep abreast of developments in Strasbourg; and to carry out additional interviews and stakeholder consultations.

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