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Court: European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber)

European Court of Human Rights delivers its first advisory opinion

Advisory opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother

The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has today delivered its first advisory opinion under ECHR, Protocol 16. Protocol 16 came into force in August 2018. It enables the Grand Chamber to deliver a non-binding advisory opinion on request from a referring domestic court on the interpretation or application of the rights in the Convention.On request from the French Court of Cassation, the Grand Chamber considered human rights issues that arise in surrogacy arrangements. Specifically, the Court was asked whether and in what form the intended mother in a surrogacy arrangement, who was registered abroad as the mother on the child’s birth certificate, should have her relationship with the child recognised in law domestically. The court unanimously decided the following points:The child’s right to respect for private life within the meaning of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires that domestic law provide a possibility of recognition of a legal parent-child relationship with the intended mother, designated in the birth certificate legally established abroad as the “legal mother”;The child’s right to respect for private life does not require such recognition to take the form of entry in the register of births, marriages and deaths of the details of the birth certificate legally established abroad; another means, such as adoption of the child by the intended mother, may be used.

Violation of ECHR, art 2 by Turkey in failing to cooperate with Cypriot authorities in murder investigation

Güzelyurtlu & Ors v Cyprus & Turkey (App No. 36925/07)

Considering the investigation into the killing of three Cypriot nationals of Turkish Cypriot origin in the Cypriot-Government controlled area of Cyprus in 2005, the Court found that there had been no violation of ECHR, art 2 by Cyprus but there had been a violation of art 2 by Turkey. This was because, when the killers fled and parallel investigations were launched in both Turkey and Cyprus, the lack of cooperation between the countries led the investigations to come to an impasse in 2008. The Court found that Cyprus had done all that could reasonably have been expected of it to obtain the surrender/extradition of the suspects from Turkey and that Cypriot authorities could not be criticised for refusing to submit all the evidence and to transfer the proceedings to the authorities of Turkey as that would have amounted to Cyprus waiving its criminal jurisdiction over a murder committed in its controlled area. By contrast, Turkey had not made the minimum effort required in the circumstances of the case: ignoring Cyprus’s extradition requests and returning them without reply.

UK failed to protect privacy of lifelong activist whose personal data appeared in an extremism database

Catt v UK (App No. 43514/15)

This case considered the collection and retention of the personal data of the applicant, a lifelong peace activist, in the police database for ‘domestic extremists’. The Court considered that, although the collection of the information was justified, the retention of it was not. This was particularly due to the lack of adequate safeguards to permit maintaining sensitive information about political views on a database, such as time limits. As such, the Court concluded that the UK had failed to protect the privacy of the applicant and therefore had acted in violation of ECHR, art 8.

UK did not violate its duty under art 2 by failing to prosecute police officers for the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Armani Da Silva v UK (App No. 5878/08)

Ms Da Silva applied to the ECtHR arguing that the UK had not complied with their duty under the ECHR, art 2, to ensure accountability and punishment of State agents for the fatal shooting of her cousin, Jean Charles de Menezes. The court ruled that there was no violation of art 2. It considered that all aspects of the authorities’ responsibility for the fatal shooting had been thoroughly investigated. Both the individual responsibility of the police officers involved and the institutional responsibility of the police authority had been considered in depth.

No breach of ECHR, art 10 where internet news portal held liable for offensive comments posted online by readers

Delfi AS v Estonia (App No. 64569/09)

The Grand Chamber held, by 15 votes to 2, that a national court’s decision that a commercially-run Internet news portal was liable for its readers’ offensive online comments was not in breach of ECHR, art 10. Holding Delfi liable for comments posted by third parties was a justified and proportionate restriction on the portal’s freedom of expression.