The power of the European Court of Human Rights to issue interim measures of protection is not enshrined in the European Convention, but follows from its internal rules of procedure. In Mamatkulov and Askarov v Turkey (2005) the Court held for the first time that a state’s failure to comply with such measures may give rise to a violation of the right of individual application under article 34, thus effectively declaring that interim measures are binding upon the states. This article traces the evolution in the Court’s view on the obligatory nature of interim measures and offers a critique of the arguments put forward in Mamatkulov. It is argued that having binding interim measures is entirely consistent with the idea of the Convention as an instrument for safeguarding procedural – as well as substantive – guarantees based on the rule of law, even though such considerations hardly figure in the Court’s reasoning.
The Russian Orthodox Church, second in membership only to the Roman Catholic Church, asserts a negative attitude towards human rights and wields influence over Russian foreign policy. The article identifies two approaches – described as two distinct discourses – to human rights within the church. While within the absolutist discourse, human rights are seen as a secular ideology, which the church opposes in principle, the pluralist discourse is open to discussion when it comes to human rights and their consequences in the concrete. In order to engage the church on human rights, one must understand the logic and motivation behind both, yet seek to activate the pluralist discourse rather than the absolutist. The article also explores the growing tendency of alliance-building between religious groups in voicing opposition to human rights, and suggests that insights from the study of the Russian Orthodox Church may help in terms of understanding the broader issue of how religions approach human rights.
One of the big current challenges for prison systems and penal legislators is how, when and to what degree digital communications technology is to be made available for persons deprived of their liberty. The use of internet and mobile phones has, during the last two decades, become ingrained in our practices and culture in modern societies at an incredible rate, and by virtue of being largely shut off from these developments prisoners have, at the same time, arguably become increasingly isolated. In this article, the question of inmate access to, and use of, the internet will be explored from a human rights perspective and by highlighting the question of prisoner reintegration into society. Problematic issues involving prisoner internet access will also be discussed. Finally the question will be raised of whether or not prisoner internet-access and use can potentially justify a need to re-evaluate the whole concept of imprisonment and the rights of prisoners.
On a recent visit to Norway, the legal philosopher Professor Ronald Dworkin, a known prominent advocate of what I will refer here to as ‘free speech absolutism’ or the idea that there should – on the basis of an attempt to universalise US First Amendment understandings which Dworkin can be associated with – be minimal legal regulations of freedom of expression. He argued that the so-called “racism paragraph” of the Norwegian General Penal Code (§ 135(a), introduced in 1970, last amended in 2005) was “unconstitutional” in light of the guarantees of freedom of expression provided by the new § 100 of the Norwegian Constitution. A new and amended § 100 was introduced in the aftermath of the 1999 report (in 2004) of the Norwegian Commission of Freedom of Expression (1996–1999). In this article, I will explore the recent application of § 135(a) by higher Norwegian courts, along with the shifting historical understandings of freedom of expression and its limits. I shall argue that these shifting understandings have played a role in the manner in which higher Norwegian courts have applied this paragraph. I shall also demonstrate why Dworkin’s claim regarding the relationship between the General Penal Code’s §135(a) and the Constitution’s § 100 is not only factually incorrect, but also grossly exaggerated.