There is little doubt that the system based on the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols, with the European Court of Human Rights at its centre, is the most advanced regional human rights system which exists. Nevertheless, the real functioning of the Court faces a number of challenges. Which are the most important today? And which will be tomorrow?
From the perspective of the lawyers of the European Court of Human Rights it may seem that with the delivery of the judgment, the work is finished. However, from the perspective of the lawyers of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the Council of Europe, this is where the work begins. What does it take to trigger and monitor a successful domestic implementation of a judgment of the Strasbourg court?
The Uyghurs are a Muslim ethnic group living under the rule of the Chinese communist government in the Northwest province of Xinjiang. Their persecution strengthened significantly during the last two to three years, as the government introduced the formerly called “Vocational Education and Training Centers“, commonly referred to as re-education or even concentration camps. How far can suppression of a minority under the excuse of a “war on terror“ go in the 21st century?
During the last three years, the world only slowly learned about new detention facilities in China that appear to be functioning outside the legal system. International experts suggest that over a million Uyghurs are being detained in the “re-education“ camps, where they are subject to inhuman treatment as well as being culturally assimilated. In addition, lives of Uyghurs who are not detained are excessively monitored by modern technology. A leading Uyghur activist, Rushan Abbas, visited the Czech Republic in order to raise awareness about the situation of Uyghurs in China.
The International Criminal Court, seated in The Hague, prosecutes perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A Czech judge and leading expert on criminal law, Robert Fremr, is one of its 18 judges. What does this role encompass? What are Judge Fremr’s views on the Court’s current problems?
The interview was published in May 2017, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
Robert Fremr spent his whole career life focusing on criminal law. During his work as a judge, he worked on a number of courts and in 2004 he was appointed to serve at the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Apart from this, Judge Fremr taught criminal law at university and between the years 2006-2008 and 2010-2012 he served as ad litem judge at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This international experience helped his candidacy for the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he has worked as a judge since March 2012.
Professor Manfred Nowak is a widely respected human rights expert who in 2007 started to promote a reform of the UN human rights treaty bodies that would contain the establishment of the so-called World Court of Human Rights. How does he perceive this idea today?
The interview was published in March 2016, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
The UN human rights treaty bodies are control mechanisms that monitor the respect for a number of human rights treaties at the universal level (e.g. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). However, the functioning of the treaty bodies is in the long-term, quite inefficient and therefore, Manfred Nowak suggests that in the future these committees (e.g. the Human Rights Committee) should focus mainly on reviewing state reports.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Judge Tomka, born in Banská Bystrica, has been a Member of the Court since 2003; Vice-President of the Court from 2009 to 2012; and the President of the Court from 2012 to 2015.
In contentious cases, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settles legal disputes that are submitted to it by States. The Court can only address a dispute when the States in question have recognised its jurisdiction. No State can therefore be a party to proceedings unless it has consented thereto.
For years Professor Meron served as a judge and the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Nowadays, he presides over the tribunal that took its residual functions. What are the cases the new tribunal deals with? And how does he feel about the development of international criminal justice?
Professor Theodor Meron was born in 1930 in Poland, grew up in Israel and later moved to the US. He studied law in Jerusalem, Oxford and Harvard, and become one of the most respected scholars in international law. After the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he served as a judge and the President of ICTY. When these tribunals were about to close, he became the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT or Mechanism) that took over the residual functions of both the former tribunals.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (KSC) is a new hybrid criminal tribunal that combines elements of both international and national law. Although being formally part of the judiciary of Kosovo, it has a seat in The Hague. Why was it established?
From 2011 onwards, the European Union strongly supported the establishment of a new hybrid tribunal that could investigate particular crimes that were allegedly committed or commenced on the territory of Kosovo.
After more than a year of preparations the court plans to move from provisional premises into its final building where the future proceedings should take place. The President of the KSC, Ekaterina Trendafilova, was very kind and shared her experiences and views with the Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
When an international criminal tribunal in The Hague is mentioned, the majority of people think about the International Criminal Court. However, three other such courts are functioning in The Hague, one of them being the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. And as it applies national law, it is a very unique international tribunal. Why was it established? In what ways does it differ from the other tribunals? The answers are brought by its President, Judge Ivana Hrdličková.
Madame President, as she is called at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, was a judge in the Czech Republic in both civil and criminal cases who, at the same time, focused her academic interests on Islamic law and human rights. She also served as an expert on the Council of Europe on money laundering and terrorist financing matters at the so-called Moneyval. She was appointed a judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2012 and became its President in 2015. In February 2018 she was re-elected for a third term of eighteen months.