Category Archives: family

IACHR Publishes Standards on Rights in Context of Human Mobility

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The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds a thematic hearing on the situation of migrant and refugee children and families in the United States
Credit: IACHR

On November 4, 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report that seeks to address the practical realities of those in the context of human mobility and lay out the legal standards that should govern Member States’ policies concerning migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, persons in need of complimentary protection, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, and internally displaced persons. [IACHR Press Release] The report, Human Rights of Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, Victims of Human Trafficking and Internally Displaced Person: Norms and Standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System, outlines standards that the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have developed through reports on petitions and cases, judgments, advisory opinions, precautionary measures, provisional measures and country and thematic reports. [IACHR: Press Release] The major areas of focus in the report are: servitude and human trafficking, freedom of movement and residence, due process in immigration and extradition proceedings, family life, the right not to be subjected to cruel or inhuman treatment as a result of deportation, immigration detention, the right to seek and receive asylum, non-refoulement, the right to a nationality, and property rights. Read more

ECtHR: States Must Recognize Equal Eligibility, Vulnerability of LGBT Migrants

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European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Adrian Grycuk

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found violations of the rights to non-discrimination and liberty in two recent cases involving applicants who identify as homosexual. In Taddeucci and McCall v. Italy, the ECtHR held Italy’s rejection of a family-based residence permit for an Italian man’s same-sex partner amounted to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation because while same-sex partners were not similarly situated to opposite-sex couples, they were treated the same as opposite-sex partners, resulting in a denial of rights. See ECtHR, Taddeucci and McCall v. Italy, no. 51362/09, Judgment of 30 June 2016 (French). In O.M. v. Hungary, the Court held that the State should have taken into account an asylum seeker’s vulnerability as a gay man as part of an individualized assessment required by domestic law before keeping him in detention, and should have done its best not to expose him to the same risks from which he was fleeing. See ECtHR, O.M. v. Hungary, no. 9912/15, Judgment of 5 July 2016. Both cases contribute to the growing body of case law that protects the rights and safety of persons who identify as homosexual or in a same-sex relationship. The O.M. case is apparently the first ECtHR decision to discuss the safety of an asylum seeker in detention who claims membership in a vulnerable group based on his sexual orientation, and Taddeucci and McCall joins the ECtHR’s growing jurisprudence on non-discrimination in the context of same-sex couples. Read more

ECSR: Ireland’s Inadequate Traveller Accommodations Violate European Social Charter

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The European Committee of Social Rights
Credit: Council of Europe

In a case concerning the right of Traveller families to adequate housing and caravan sites, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) held that Ireland violated their right to social, legal, and economic protection under Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter because of the de facto insufficiency of accommodations for Travellers, inadequate conditions in the existing Traveller accommodations, and the legislative framework and practice of evictions. See ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Ireland, Complaint No. 100/2013, Merits, 1 December 2015. In its decision, published earlier this month, the ECSR declined to find Ireland in violation of Article E’s non-discrimination provisions or to find a violation of Article 30, which protects the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, noting that the Irish government has made substantial progress in the past few years and demonstrated an effort to accommodate the Traveller community. Id. at paras. 71 and 191.

The decision reinforces an earlier ruling from the ECSR on Roma communities in Greece, in which it found the same violations under Article 16. See ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Greece, Complaint No. 15/2003, Merits, 8 December 2004. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has also held in past cases that evictions of and insufficient accommodations for Roma communities violate the right to family life. See ECtHR, Connors v. United Kingdom, no. 66746/01, ECHR 2004, Judgment of 27 May 2004. ECtHR, Winterstein and Others v. France, no. 27013/07, Judgment of 17 October 2013.

According to census data, at least 30,000 Traveller families live in Ireland. See European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Ireland, 1 December 2015, para. 30. Irish media have recently reported on homelessness and evictions of Travellers in the country, where one-fifth of Travellers do not have access to appropriate accommodation. Read more

Inter-American Court: Colombian Same-Sex Partners Entitled to Equal Social Benefits

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The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in session
Credit: Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has condemned Columbia’s failure to provide a gay man with equal access to public benefits following the death of his partner, as prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. See I/A Court H.R., Duque v. Colombia. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of 26 February 2016. Series C No. 310 (Spanish only). This case involved a petitioner, Ángel Alberto Duque, who alleged that he was denied the right to a survivor’s pension due to his sexual orientation. [IACHR Press Release] The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on October 14, 2014 after Colombia failed to comply with its merits report recommendations. [IACHR Press Release] The Court held that Colombia had violated the petitioner’s right to equality and non-discrimination as provided for in the American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention). See Duque v. Colombia. Judgment of 26 February 2016. para. 62. Duque’s case is the first time the Court has ruled on the issues of discrimination and access to social rights as they pertain to same-sex couples. [IACHR Press Release] Read more

Kosovo Panel: Health Conditions in UN Camps Violated Human Rights

Security Council Meeting Security Council resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998), 1203 (1998), 1239 (1999) and 1244 (1999) Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (S/2015/303) - Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). - Hashim Thai, Representative of the Kosovo authorities will addresses the Security Council meeting on the UN Assistance Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) addresses the UN Security Council
Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) violated the human rights of people who lived in its camps following the 1999 conflict there by exposing them to unsafe living conditions and lead poisoning, according to the body established to evaluate human rights complaints against UNMIK. On April 8, 2016, the Human Rights Advisory Panel rendered its opinion in the case of N.M and Others v. UNMIK, which involved 138 complainants who lived in UN camps that were built on contaminated land. [Human Rights Advisory Panel Press Release] UNMIK established the camps were established to temporarily house people displaced by fighting between Serbian and Kosovar armed groups. [Human Rights Advisory Panel Press Release] The complainants, members of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities in Kosovo, claimed to have suffered from lead poisoning and other health problems caused by both contamination from the nearby smelting and mining complex and by poor hygiene and living conditions in the camps. [Human Rights Advisory Panel Press Release]

The Panel, the only body ever established to consider rights abuses by a UN field mission, found that the conditions violated multiple human rights treaties, including the European Convention on Human Rights (European Convention), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). [Human Rights Advisory Panel Press Release; NY Times] The decisions of the Panel are non-binding, and it is up to UNMIK whether to accept and act on the recommendations made. However, the decision is seen as a long-fought victory for the affected individuals, who suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, developmental disorders, paralysis, and death. [NY Times; Human Rights Advisory Panel Press Release] The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, and UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, both recently urged the UN to provide compensation and an apology to the victims in light of the Panel’s decision. [OHCHR Press Release] Read more

ECtHR: Same-Sex Couples Must Be Equally Eligible for Family-Based Migration

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Rainbow painted on the sidewalk in Zagreb with phrase “love thy neighbor”
Credit: Crol.hr via Wikimedia Commons

In a recent decision regarding family reunification for a same-sex couple, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found Croatia to have violated a non-citizen’s human rights by denying her application for a residence permit to join her partner in Croatia. See ECtHR, Pajić v. Croatia, no. 68453/13, Judgment of 23 February 2016. The ECtHR unanimously held that Croatia’s Aliens Act, under which same-sex couples do not qualify for residency permits based on family reunification, violated Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Id. at paras. 69-86. Ms. Pajić submitted a complaint to the ECtHR in October 2013, alleging discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation. Id. at paras. 1, 3.

While the Court has previously considered cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the area of family rights, this is apparently the first time the Court has reviewed a State’s treatment of same-sex couples’ eligibility for family-based migration. See id. at paras. 53-60. See also Oliari and Others v. Italy, nos. 18766/11 and 36030/11, Judgment of 21 July 2015 (legal recognition of same-sex relationships); ECtHR, E.B. v. France [GC], no. 43546/02, Judgment of 22 January 2008 (adoption rights of person in same-sex relationship). A complaint against Italy that also involves same-sex couples’ eligibility for family reunification is currently pending before the Court. See ECtHR, Taddeucci and McCall v. Italy (communicated case), no. 51362/09.  Read more

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