Latin American democratic institutions are currently under stress due to a weakening of the rule of law, high levels of crime, corruption and impunity and opaque separation of powers. The judiciary remains weak in relation to the military in spite of the transition to democracy. This context negatively impacts compliance with orders issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This article assesses the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 2012 resolutions on compliance in order to illustrate ongoing problems with judicial independence in cases involving accountability of the military for human rights violations. The article confirms that states are able to publish the Court’s decisions but are unable to fully implement orders calling for criminal prosecution of military actors. Furthermore, some states are also failing to implement softer aspects of orders. However, some cases reveal increased Court deference to the national jurisdiction when interpreting compliance. The article concludes that the Court’s decisions provide a partly symbolic function and this, in turn, may be affected by larger questions regarding the legitimacy of the Organization of American States (OAS) as a whole.
This article discusses the obligation to comply with judgments from the European Court of Human Rights under article 46 ECHR. The provision was amended by Protocol no. 14, which created a new infringement procedure with the purpose of providing more effective sanctions in case of non-compliance. The article discusses the potential application of this infringement procedure in cases where the Court calls for legislative reforms in the respondent state, and argues that the infringement procedure may prove to be a valuable and strong tool to promote necessary reforms in states with weak democratic traditions.
The Claude-Reyes decision is frequently presented as an example of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ effectiveness. The decision ordered inter alia to reform legislation for the protection of the right of access to state-held information. Less than two years later, Chile passed new legislation. This ensuing reform has been taken as a sign of the effectiveness and authority of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and deemed contributive to Chile’s democratisation. This article examines the actual effectiveness of the Court’s decision through an analysis of the right of access to state-held information in Chile, and reviews the Inter-American human rights system ex-ante and ex-post the issuance of the decision. It raises the question of whether this decision was an important factor in advancing subsequent legislative reform in Chile, and whether it truly affected Chilean democracy in positive terms. The analysis focuses on the extent to which the Court’s decision was necessary for the ensuing legal reform, and identifies other factors which might have influenced the adoption of new legislation.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in Fatullayev v Azerbaijan1Fatullayev v Azerbaijan (App no 40984/07) ECHR 2010. marked an important step in efforts to bring Azerbaijani freedom of the press into compliance with ECHR standards. The case concerns a journalist who was sentenced to 8,5 years in prison following his publications of a politically sensitive nature – specifically the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, and bilateral relations with neighbouring Iran. Bound by the subsidiarity principle, the ECtHR took a proactive approach towards securing remedies to redress this violation of freedom of expression by not only ordering Fatullayev’s immediate release, but also supporting urgently needed legislative reforms to decriminalise defamation. In light of the Court’s commitment to the vital role of free press in a democratic society, this article seeks to assess the impact – if any – that the ECtHR judgment had on the relevant legal and policy framework, in light of the Court’s commitment to the vital role to the free press in a democratic society. It will specifically examine the factors that support or limit legislative and policy developments. Particular attention is paid firstly to the domestic impact of engagement by the ECtHR and the Committee of Ministers (CoM), and secondly the overall hostility against civil and political rights in Azerbaijan. In this regard, the article will review Azerbaijan’s compliance with the ECtHR judgments.2Under Article 46 of the Convention, the Committee of Ministers is entitled to supervise the execution of ECtHR judgments: Article 46 (2) reads: ‘The final judgment of the Court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which shall supervise its execution’.