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Human Rights Violations in Iraq - A Study of the Extraterritorial Application of the European Convention on Human Rights

Savert, Sara-Emelie LU (2012) JURM01 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
According to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) states have an obligation to secure, to everyone within their jurisdiction, the rights prescribed in the Convention. Already at the drafting of the ECHR, it was clear that the states mainly had this obligation within their own territories. However, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has found that the ECHR can be applied extraterritorially in exceptional cases. This paper investigates these exceptional cases based on three recent cases from the Court concerning human rights violations in Iraq.

In order for a state to be held responsible for an internationally wrongful act it is required that the act can be attributed to the state according... (More)
According to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) states have an obligation to secure, to everyone within their jurisdiction, the rights prescribed in the Convention. Already at the drafting of the ECHR, it was clear that the states mainly had this obligation within their own territories. However, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has found that the ECHR can be applied extraterritorially in exceptional cases. This paper investigates these exceptional cases based on three recent cases from the Court concerning human rights violations in Iraq.

In order for a state to be held responsible for an internationally wrongful act it is required that the act can be attributed to the state according to international law on state responsibility. Inquiries concerning when an act can be attributed to the state are initially dealt with just as questions concerning when an act can be attributed to an International Organisation, such as the United Nations, instead of the state. The prerequisite for attribution that becomes relevant for this paper has been developed by the International Law Commission and the International Court of Justice and requires that the state or the International Organisation have effective control over the perpetrators.

The state’s jurisdiction over the applicant is a prerequisite for the application of the ECHR. The Court has developed two different models for the extraterritorial application of the Convention – on of them is labelled the personal model and investigates if the state has authority and control over an individual and the other is called the spatial model and is applicable when the state has effective overall control over an area. Jurisdiction of the state must be separated from the jurisdiction of the Court, which concerns the compatibility between the application and the provisions in the ECHR, as well as the concept of jurisdiction in public international law, which concerns when the state lawfully can exercise its prescriptive, adjudicative and enforcement jurisdiction.

When dealing with the extraterritorial application of the ECHR, the paper initially concludes that the disputed opinion that a state never can be held responsible for acts committed outside the espace juridique - legal space - of the ECHR must be seen as overridden after the Grand Chamber judgment in Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom.

In the case Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. the United Kingdom, the Court applied the spatial model and found that detained Iraqis were within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom since British forces had total and exclusive control over the detention facilities. The paper establishes that a certain straight of military presence is needed in order for the state to be able to have sufficient control in these cases and that the model only can be applied to areas or places over which the state can have such control.

In the case Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom, which concerned inter alia the shooting of several Iraqis by British soldiers, the Court reached the same conclusion, however by applying the personal model. The paper demonstrates how authority and control over an individual requires exercise of some form of public powers and that, if such powers are exercised, the killing of an individual may result in that he or she is within the state’s jurisdiction for the purposes of Article 1 of the ECHR.

The final Iraqi case, Al-Jedda v. the United Kingdom, is an instance of how the Court sometimes chooses to address the question of attribution before the issue of jurisdiction. When doing so, the Court has required ultimate authority and control in order to answer to whom the alleged violation can be attributed. The paper illustrates how this prerequisite is incompatible with the requirement in international law and what problems that might arise due to this incoherency.

The last part of the paper looks at the pending case Pritchard v. the United Kingdom (the case is pending at the time of writing, 9 March 2012), which concerns the death of a British soldier serving in Iraq. The case was communicated to the British Government in September 2011 and a judgment can therefore not be expected soon. The paper speculates on the outcome by discussing if and how the ECHR can be applicable extraterritorially in this particular case. My conclusion is that the Court will find the United Kingdom did not have jurisdiction over the deceased at the time of his death. However, the alleged violation could, by applying the requirement for ultimate authority and control, probably be attributed to the United Kingdom. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Enligt den Europeiska konventionen för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande friheterna (EKMR) har medlemsstaterna en skyldighet att garantera konventionens fri- och rättigheter till var och en som befinner sig inom deras jurisdiktion. Det är sedan länge klart att staterna främst har denna skyldighet inom sitt eget territorium. Europadomstolen har emellertid klargjort att EKMR i exceptionella fall kan tillämpas extraterritoriellt, det vill säga att staten kan ställas till svars för handlingar som begåtts utanför det egna territoriet. Denna uppsats behandlar vilka omständigheter som krävs för att ett exceptionellt fall ska föreligga, med utgångspunkt i tre nyligen avgjorda mål rörande konventionskränkningar som skett i Irak.

... (More)
Enligt den Europeiska konventionen för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande friheterna (EKMR) har medlemsstaterna en skyldighet att garantera konventionens fri- och rättigheter till var och en som befinner sig inom deras jurisdiktion. Det är sedan länge klart att staterna främst har denna skyldighet inom sitt eget territorium. Europadomstolen har emellertid klargjort att EKMR i exceptionella fall kan tillämpas extraterritoriellt, det vill säga att staten kan ställas till svars för handlingar som begåtts utanför det egna territoriet. Denna uppsats behandlar vilka omständigheter som krävs för att ett exceptionellt fall ska föreligga, med utgångspunkt i tre nyligen avgjorda mål rörande konventionskränkningar som skett i Irak.

För att en stat ska kunna hållas ansvarig för en överträdelse av ett internationellt åtagande krävs det att handlingen kan hänföras till staten enligt de folkrättsliga reglerarna om statsansvar. Inledningsvis behandlas frågor om när en handling kan tillskrivas en stat samt när en handling kan tillskrivas en internationell organisation, såsom Förenta Nationerna, istället för en stat. Det krav för hänförligt som är relevant för uppsatsen är kravet på att staten eller den internationella organisationen ska ha effektiv kontroll över de som, genom handling eller underlåtenhet, överträtt det internationella åtagandet. Detta är ett krav som utvecklats av Förenta Nationernas Folkrättskommission och den Internationella Domstolen.

Att klaganden är inom statens jurisdiktion är en nödvändig förutsättning för att staten ska vara bunden av EKMR:s bestämmelser. Europadomstolen har utvecklat två huvudsakliga metoder för att avgöra när en klagande är inom statens jurisdiktion i en extraterritoriell kontext - den ena benämns den personliga modellen och undersöker om staten haft auktoritet och kontroll över en individ. Den andra kallas den rumsbestämda modellen och ställer krav på att staten ska ha haft övergripande effektiv kontroll över en viss yta. Statens jurisdiktion ska till viss del skiljas från Europadomstolens jurisdiktion, som handlar om huruvida ett klagomål är förenligt med EKMR:s bestämmelser, samt från det jurisdiktionsbegrepp som används inom folkrätten och som handlar om när staten lagligt kan utöva sin lagstiftande, dömande och verkställande makt.

När Konventionens extraterritoriella effekt behandlas fastslås inledningsvis att den omtvistade uppfattningen om att EKMR inte kan tillämpas utanför Europarådets espace juridique – juridiska område - numer får anses överspelad. Det juridiska området utgör därmed inte en begräsning för räckvidden av EKMR:s bestämmelser.

I målet Al-Saadoon och Mufdhi mot Storbritannien, använde sig Europadomstolen av den rumsbestämda modellen och fann att i Irak fängslade personer befann sig inom Storbritanniens jurisdiktion eftersom Storbritannien haft total och exklusiv kontroll över fängelset i fråga. Uppsatsen fastslår att en viss styrka på den militära närvaron är en förutsättning för att skapa tillräcklig och nödvändig kontroll i dessa fall och att modellen endast kan tillämpas på ett område eller en plats över vilket staten kan ha sådan nödvändig kontroll.

Målet Al-Skeini och andra mot Storbritannien handlande bland annat om dödandet av flera irakier som utförts av brittiska soldater. Europadomstolen kom, genom att tillämpa den personliga modellen, även i detta fall fram till att offren föll inom Storbritanniens jurisdiktion. Uppsatsen visar hur auktoritet och kontroll över en person förutsätter att staten utövar någon form av myndighetsutövning och, förutsatt att detta sker, så innebär dödandet av en person att denna är inom statens jurisdiktion enligt Artikel 1 i EKMR.

Det sista fallet, Al-Jedda mot Storbritannien, är ett exempel på hur Europadomstolen ibland väljer att först svara på vem som kan tillskrivas en handling istället för om klaganden är inom statens jurisdiktion. När Domstolen har besvarat denna fråga har den ställt som krav att absolut auktoritet och kontroll föreligger över de som utfört rättighetskränkningarna. Uppsatsen visar hur detta är ett krav som inte stämmer överens med folkrättens krav på effektiv kontroll samt diskuterar varför tillämpningen av detta krav är problematiskt.

Uppsatsen behandlar slutligen det pågående fallet Pritchard mot Storbritannien som handlar om en brittisk soldat som avlidit under tjänstgöring i Irak. Europadomstolen valde att kommunicera fallet till den brittiska regeringen i september 2011 och ett avgörande kommer alltså att dröja. Uppsatsen spekulerar i en potentiell utgång i fallet genom att diskutera om och hur EKMR kan tillämpas i en extraterritoriell situation som denna. Slutsatsen är att Europadomstolen inte kommer att finna att den avlidne var inom Storbritanniens jurisdiktion när han dog. Det är dock möjligt att Domstolen, genom att tillämpa kravet på absolut auktoritet och kontroll, finner att den påstådda kränkningen kan hänföras till Storbritannien. (Less)
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author
Savert, Sara-Emelie LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Jurisdiction, European Convention on Human Rights, Human Rights Law, Public International Law
language
English
id
2370517
date added to LUP
2012-05-29 14:53:03
date last changed
2012-05-29 14:53:03
@misc{2370517,
  abstract     = {According to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) states have an obligation to secure, to everyone within their jurisdiction, the rights prescribed in the Convention. Already at the drafting of the ECHR, it was clear that the states mainly had this obligation within their own territories. However, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has found that the ECHR can be applied extraterritorially in exceptional cases. This paper investigates these exceptional cases based on three recent cases from the Court concerning human rights violations in Iraq.

In order for a state to be held responsible for an internationally wrongful act it is required that the act can be attributed to the state according to international law on state responsibility. Inquiries concerning when an act can be attributed to the state are initially dealt with just as questions concerning when an act can be attributed to an International Organisation, such as the United Nations, instead of the state. The prerequisite for attribution that becomes relevant for this paper has been developed by the International Law Commission and the International Court of Justice and requires that the state or the International Organisation have effective control over the perpetrators. 

The state’s jurisdiction over the applicant is a prerequisite for the application of the ECHR. The Court has developed two different models for the extraterritorial application of the Convention – on of them is labelled the personal model and investigates if the state has authority and control over an individual and the other is called the spatial model and is applicable when the state has effective overall control over an area. Jurisdiction of the state must be separated from the jurisdiction of the Court, which concerns the compatibility between the application and the provisions in the ECHR, as well as the concept of jurisdiction in public international law, which concerns when the state lawfully can exercise its prescriptive, adjudicative and enforcement jurisdiction. 

When dealing with the extraterritorial application of the ECHR, the paper initially concludes that the disputed opinion that a state never can be held responsible for acts committed outside the espace juridique - legal space - of the ECHR must be seen as overridden after the Grand Chamber judgment in Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom.

In the case Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. the United Kingdom, the Court applied the spatial model and found that detained Iraqis were within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom since British forces had total and exclusive control over the detention facilities. The paper establishes that a certain straight of military presence is needed in order for the state to be able to have sufficient control in these cases and that the model only can be applied to areas or places over which the state can have such control. 

In the case Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom, which concerned inter alia the shooting of several Iraqis by British soldiers, the Court reached the same conclusion, however by applying the personal model. The paper demonstrates how authority and control over an individual requires exercise of some form of public powers and that, if such powers are exercised, the killing of an individual may result in that he or she is within the state’s jurisdiction for the purposes of Article 1 of the ECHR. 

The final Iraqi case, Al-Jedda v. the United Kingdom, is an instance of how the Court sometimes chooses to address the question of attribution before the issue of jurisdiction. When doing so, the Court has required ultimate authority and control in order to answer to whom the alleged violation can be attributed. The paper illustrates how this prerequisite is incompatible with the requirement in international law and what problems that might arise due to this incoherency.

The last part of the paper looks at the pending case Pritchard v. the United Kingdom (the case is pending at the time of writing, 9 March 2012), which concerns the death of a British soldier serving in Iraq. The case was communicated to the British Government in September 2011 and a judgment can therefore not be expected soon. The paper speculates on the outcome by discussing if and how the ECHR can be applicable extraterritorially in this particular case. My conclusion is that the Court will find the United Kingdom did not have jurisdiction over the deceased at the time of his death. However, the alleged violation could, by applying the requirement for ultimate authority and control, probably be attributed to the United Kingdom.},
  author       = {Savert, Sara-Emelie},
  keyword      = {Jurisdiction,European Convention on Human Rights,Human Rights Law,Public International Law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Human Rights Violations in Iraq - A Study of the Extraterritorial Application of the European Convention on Human Rights},
  year         = {2012},
}