This contribution will provide an overview of the most important judgments in 2019, that is to say, decisions that contributed to the development or the clarification of the European Court of Human Right's (ECtHR, the Court) case law in a considerable way (especially by resolving new legal issues, harmonising or modifying previous case law or introducing general guidelines or tests under certain European Convention on Human Rights provisions, ECHR). It focuses on Grand Chamber judgments, but also includes some other decisions that are of special interest in that regard.
Against this backdrop, the most important developments and clarifications in 2019 concerned Article 2 ECHR (applicability of procedural aspect and positive obligations), Article 3 ECHR (applicability and refoulement), Article 5 ECHR (applicability and lawfulness of detention), Article 8 ECHR (right to private and family life) and Article 4 of Protocol No 7 to the ECHR (ne bis in idem). This contribution also deals with the ECtHR‘s first decision in infringement proceedings according to Article 46 (4) ECHR and its first Advisory Opinion under Protocol No 16 to the ECHR.
DUTY TO COOPERATE IN CROSS-BORDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS (ARTICLE 2 ECHR)
In the case of Güzelyurtlu and others v Cyprus and Turkey, the Grand Chamber developed important principles with regard to the duty of State Parties to cooperate in the context of cross-border criminal investigations and clarified the extent of the procedural obligations under Article 2 ECHR. The case concerned the investigation into the murder of three Cypriot nationals of Turkish Cypriot origin in the Cypriot-government controlled area of Cyprus in 2005. After committing the offence, the alleged murderers had fled back to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (controlled by Turkey), and Cyprus and Turkey carried out parallel investigations into the incident. However, both investigations failed to produce results. The victims’ relatives had then complained to the ECtHR that the lack of cooperation between the two states had led to a situation where neither of them could lead an effective investigation as required by Article 2 ECHR.