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    This comparative study looks into the proposed “vaccine passport” initiative from various human rights aspects. It was undertaken by the Global Digital Human Rights Network, an action started under the EU’s Cooperation in Science and Technology programme. The network currently unites more than 80 scholars and practitioners from 40 countries. The findings are based on responses to questions put to the network members by the authors of this study in February 2021.


Mart Susi
Mart Susi is Professor of Human Rights Law at Tallinn University, Editor-in-Chief, Action Chair of Global Digital Human Rights Network.

Tiina Pajuste
Tiina Pajuste is Professor of International Law and Security at Tallinn University.

    This study explores the spread of disinformation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic on the internet, dubbed by some as the pandemic’s accompanying “infodemic”, and the societal reactions to this development across different countries and platforms. The study’s focus is on the role of states and platforms in combatting online disinformation.
    Through synthesizing answers to questions submitted by more than 40 researchers from 20 countries within the GDHR Network, this exploratory study provides a first overview of how states and platforms have dealt with Corona-related disinformation. This can also provide incentives for further rigorous studies of disinformation governance standards and their impact across different socio-cultural environments.
    Regarding the platforms’ willingness and efficacy in removing (presumed) disinformation, a majority of submissions identifies a shift towards more intervention in pandemic times. Most submitters assess that this shift is widely welcomed in their respective countries and more often considered as taking place too slowly (rather than being perceived as entailing dangers for unjustified restrictions of freedom of expression). The picture is less clear when it comes to enforcing non-speech related infection prevention measures.
    While the dominant platforms have been able to defend, or even solidify, their position during the pandemic, communicative practices on those platforms are changing. For officials, this includes an increasing reliance on platforms, especially social networks, for communicating infection prevention rules and recommendations. For civil society, the pandemic has brought an increasing readiness – and perceived need – to intervene against disinformation, especially through fact-checking initiatives.
    National and local contexts show great variance at whether platform-driven disinformation is conceived as a societal problem. In countries where official sources are distrusted and/or seen as disseminating disinformation criticism against private information governance by platforms remains muted. In countries where official sources are trusted disinformation present on platforms is seen more negatively.
    While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram play important roles in the pandemic communication environment, some replies point towards an increasing importance of messaging apps for the circulation of Covid-19-related disinformation. These apps, like Telegram or WhatsApp, tend to fall under the radar of researchers, because visibility of content is limited and scraping is difficult, and because they are not covered by Network Enforcement Act-type laws that usually exclude one-to-one communication platforms (even if they offer one-to-many channels).
    Vis-à-vis widespread calls for a (re)territorialization of their content governance standards and processes amid the pandemic, platform companies have maintained, by and large, global standards. Standardized, featured sections for national (health) authorities to distribute official information via platforms are exceptions thereto.


Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.

Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”.

    Terms-of-service based actions against political and state actors as both key subjects and objects of political opinion formation have become a focal point of the ongoing debates over who should set and enforce the rules for speech on online platforms.
    With minor differences depending on national contexts, state regulation of platforms creating obligations to disseminate such actors’ information is considered dangerous for the free and unhindered discursive process that leads to the formation of public opinions.
    Reactions to the suspension of Trump as not the first, but the most widely discussed action of platform companies against a politician (and incumbent president) provide a glimpse on the state of platform governance debates across participating countries.
    Across the countries surveyed politicians tend to see the exercise of content moderation policies of large platform companies very critically
    The majority of politicians in European countries seem to be critical of the deplatforming of Trump, emphasizing fundamental rights and calling for such decisions to be made by states, not private companies
    These political standpoints stand in an unresolved conflict with the constitutional realities of participating countries, where incumbents usually cannot invoke fundamental rights when acting in their official capacities and where laws with “must carry” requirements for official information do not exist for social media and would likely only be constitutional for narrowly defined, special circumstances such as disaster prevention.
    Facebooks’ referral of the Trump-decision to its Oversight Board sparked a larger debate about institutional structures for improving content governance. The majority of participating countries has experience with self- or co-regulatory press-, media- or broadcasting councils to which comparisons can be drawn, foreshadowing the possible (co-regulatory) future of governing online speech.
    Media commentators in participating countries interpreted the deplatforming of Trump as a signal that far-right parties and politicians around the world may face increasing scrutiny, while conservative politicians and governments in multiple participating countries instrumentalized the actions against Trump as supposed proof of platform’s bias against conservative opinions.
    Even without specific legal requirements on content moderation, submissions from several countries refer to a general – often: constitutional – privileging of speech of politicians and office holders. This could potentially support or even compel the decisions of platforms to leave content of political actors up even if it violates their terms of service.


Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”

Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.
Article

Access_open Artificial Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management

The Case of Chatbots and Their Legality Framework

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords artificial intelligence, chatbots, CRM, data protection, privacy
Authors Konstantinos Kouroupis, Dimitrios Vagianos and Aikaterini Totka
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the new digital era as it is formed by the European digital strategy, the explosion of e-commerce and related technologies has led to the formation of tremendous volumes of customer data that could be exploited in a variety of ways. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can now exploit these data sets to map consumers’ behaviour more effectively. As social media and artificial intelligence widened their penetration, firms’ interest shifted to chatbots in order to serve their customers’ needs. Nowadays, CRM and bots are developed in a parallel way. With the help of these virtual personal assistants, CRM establishes a virtual relationship with consumers. However, the extended collection and use of personal data under this scope may give rise to ethical and legal issues. In this article, the term CRM is defined, followed by an analysis of the way chatbots support CRM systems. In the second part, the legal context of chatbot use will be highlighted in an attempt to investigate whether there are personal data protection issues and whether certain rights or ethical rules are somehow violated. The draft AI Regulation, in combination with the provisions of GDPR and e-Privacy Directive, offers a significant background for our study. The article concludes by demonstrating the use of chatbots as an inherent part of the new digital era and lays special emphasis on the term ‘transparency’, which seems to penetrate the lawfulness of their use and guarantee our privacy.


Konstantinos Kouroupis
Konstantinos Kouroupis: Assistant Professor of European and Data Rights Law, Department of Law, Frederick University, Cyprus.

Dimitrios Vagianos
Dimitrios Vagianos: Electrical & Computer Engineer, Laboratory Teaching staff, Department of International and European Studies, University of Macedonia, Greece.

Aikaterini Totka
Aikaterini Totka: Graduate Student, Department of International and European Studies, University of Macedonia, Greece.
Article

Access_open European Standards of Judicial Independence in Lithuania

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords judicial independence, selection of judges, appointment of judges, rule of law, mutual trust
Authors Vygantė Milašiūtė and Skirgailė Žalimienė
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article examines the procedure for selection and appointment of judges in Lithuania in the light of the European standards of judicial independence. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) legal materials are relied on. The procedural role of different actors, the criteria for assessment of candidates, the question of judicial review of selection and appointment decisions as well as the problem of delays of judicial appointments are also examined. Even though the Lithuanian system for the selection and appointment of judges has been assessed favourably by European institutions, certain elements of the system are questionable. However, as long as these deficiencies are not systemic and do not raise issues of the rule of law in the sense of EU law, they would not negatively affect the operation of the EU law-based mutual trust instruments with respect to Lithuania. A suggestion is made that paying more attention to non-systemic deficiencies of judicial independence and the rule of law in EU member states could be beneficial for improving the protection of individual rights.


Vygantė Milašiūtė
Vygantė Milašiūtė: Associate professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Law.

Skirgailė Žalimienė
Skirgailė Žalimienė: Associate professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Law.
Human Rights Practice Review

The Czech Republic

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Viktor Kundrák and Maroš Matiaško
Author's information

Viktor Kundrák
Viktor Kundrák works for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a Hate Crime Officer. He is also a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague. The views in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent those of ODIHR.

Maroš Matiaško
Maroš Matiaško is a PhD candidate at Palacky University and Essex University. He is a chair of the Forum for Human Rights (NGO based in Prague) and human rights attorney at law.
Article

Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania

Recognizing Individual Harm Caused by Cyber Hate?

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords hate speech, verbal hate crime, cyber hate, effective investigation, homophobia
Authors Viktor Kundrák
AbstractAuthor's information

    The issue of online hatred or cyber hate is at the heart of heated debates over possible limitations of online discussions, namely in the context of social media. There is freedom of expression and the value of the internet in and of itself on the one hand, and the need to protect the rights of victims, to address intolerance and racism, as well as the overarching values of equality of all in dignity and rights, on the other. Criminalizing some (forms of) expressions seems to be problematic but, many would agree, under certain circumstances, a necessary or even unavoidable solution. However, while the Court has long ago declared as unacceptable bias-motivated violence and direct threats, which under Articles 2, 3 and 8 in combination with Article 14 of the ECHR, activate the positive obligation of states to effectively investigate hate crimes, the case of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania presented the first opportunity for the Court to extend such an obligation to the phenomenon of online verbal hate crime. This article will first address the concepts of hate speech and hate crime, including their intersection and, through the lens of pre-existing case law, identify the key messages for both national courts and practitioners. On the margins, the author will also discuss the issue of harm caused by verbal hate crime and the need to understand and recognize its gravity.


Viktor Kundrák
Viktor Kundrák has worked for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a Hate Crime Officer since 2018. He has been responsible for ODIHR’s hate crime reporting, trained police, prosecutors and judges, and provided legislative and policy support at the national level. He is also a PhD candidate at Charles University in Prague. The views in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent those of ODIHR. Some of the opinions are based on an article published in Czech earlier this year (see V. Kundrák & M. Hanych, ‘Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania (Verbal Hate Crime on Social Network and Discriminatory Investigation)’, The Overview of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Vol. 3, 2020.
Article

The Question of Jurisdiction

The Impact of Ultra Vires Decisions on the ECJ’s Normative Power and Potential Effects for the Field of Data Protection

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords ECJ, German Constitutional Court, principle of proportionality, primacy of EU law, data protection, principle of conferral, ultra vires judgments
Authors Carsten M. Wulff
AbstractAuthor's information

    The ultra vires judgment of the German Constitutional Court on the debt security purchasing of the ECB system sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Some scholars see the legal framework, specifically the principle of the supremacy of the European Union in danger. This article argues that the judgment is a challenge for Luxembourg; however, there have been warning signs from the Czech Republic and Denmark that constitutional courts will not shy away from criticizing, when the ECJ oversteps its jurisdiction. The author argues that the judgment may weaken the overall normative power of the court and will assess whether a similar judgment could occur in the field of data protection and national security exceptions. The only way back to normality will be for the court to ensure it does not overstep its jurisdiction and the European Institutions unconditionally backing the ECJ in the expected upcoming conflict with the constitutional courts of Member States.


Carsten M. Wulff
PhD Student, Tallinn University, Estonia.
Human Rights Practice Review

Poland

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Vita Czepek and Jakub Czepek
Author's information

Vita Czepek
Dr Vita Czepek, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration, Department of International Public Law.

Jakub Czepek
Dr Jakub Czepek, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration, Department of Human Rights Protection and International Humanitarian Law.
Human Rights Literature Review

Belarus

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors E. Konnova and P. Marshyn
Author's information

E. Konnova
Head of the Chair of International Law of Belarusian State University, Director of Human Rights Center based at the Faculty of International Relations of Belarusian State University, PhD (international law).

P. Marshyn
PhD student at the Chair of International Law of Belarusian State University, LLM (law). Justice of Belarus, available at: https://justbel.info/pages/about-us (last accessed 26 July 2020).
Article

Access_open COVID-19-Related Sanitary Crisis and Derogations under Article 15 of the Convention

Considerations in Estonia

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords human rights, emergency situation, COVID-19 and sanitary crisis, Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR), Estonia
Authors Maris Kuurberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia was one of the states that decided to inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the health-related emergency situation in Estonia and noted, with reference to Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that some emergency measures may involve a derogation from certain obligations under the Convention. The Government’s considerations proceeded from the unprecedented scale of the sanitary crisis and the scope of extraordinary measures taken to tackle it. Importance was attached to the fact that the Court has never before assessed health-related exceptions allowed in some of the articles of the Convention in a situation which affects the whole nation – not to mention the articles of the Convention which do not set out any exceptions at all. Article 15 of the Convention, on the other hand, is designed to be applicable in public emergency situations threatening the life of the nation.


Maris Kuurberg
Maris Kuurberg (mag.iur.) has been the Estonian Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights since 2008 (the views expressed are solely those of the author). She works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is also a member of the Bureau of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights, as well as a member of the same steering committee and a member of the Committee of Experts on the System of the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1999, she has been a member of the Estonian Bar Association but her activity as an Attorney at Law is suspended since she joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Article

The Smuggling of Migrants across the Mediterranean Sea

A Human Rights Perspective

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Keywords smuggling, refugees, migration, readmission, interceptions
Authors J. Shadi Elserafy LL.M.,
AbstractAuthor's information

    Irregular migration by sea is one of the most apparent contemporary political issues, and one that entails many legal challenges. Human smuggling by sea is only one aspect of irregular migration that represents a particular challenge for States, as sovereignty and security interests clash with the principles and obligations of human rights and refugee law. In dealing with the problem of migrant smuggling by sea, States have conflicting roles, including the protection of national borders, suppressing the smuggling of migrants, rescuing migrants and guarding human rights.
    The legal framework governing the issue of migrant smuggling at sea stems not only from the rules of the law of the sea and the Smuggling Protocol but also from rules of general international law, in particular human rights law and refugee law. The contemporary practice of States intercepting vessels engaged in migrant smuggling indicates that States have, on several occasions, attempted to fragment the applicable legal framework by relying on laws that allow for enhancing border controls and implementing measures that undermine obligations of human rights and refugee law. This article seeks to discuss the human rights dimension of maritime interception missions and clarify as much as possible the obligations imposed by international law on States towards smuggled migrants and whether or not these obligations limit the capacity of States to act.


J. Shadi Elserafy LL.M.,
LL.M., Judge/Counselor at The Egyptian Council of State (The Higher Administrative Court of Justice).
Article

The Right of Appeal against a Decision on Disciplinary Liability of a Judge

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Keywords disciplinary proceedings, scope of judicial review, standard of judicial review, remedial measures
Authors Taras Pashuk PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the questions of scope and the standard of judicial review of a disciplinary decision against a judge. It further addresses the issue of remedial powers, which should be granted to the reviewing authority in this type of cases. It is suggested that the scope of judicial review of a disciplinary decision against a judge should extend to questions of law, fact and discretion. What actually varies is the depth of review or, more precisely, the standards of review and the corresponding level of deference, which must be demonstrated to the primary decision-making authority. It is further suggested that there are several factors that have influence on the formation of the standards of review: the institutional, procedural and expertise factors. As to the remedial capacity, the reviewing court should be provided with the competence to apply adequate remedial measures. The reviewing court should be able to effectively eliminate the identified shortcomings in the proceedings before the first-instance authority. For the effective protection of the rights at issue, it may be important for the reviewing court not only to repeal the decision subject to review, but also take other remedial measures. The legitimacy and necessity for applying particular remedial action should be established by taking into account the same institutional, procedural and expertise factors.


Taras Pashuk PhD
PhD (Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine), lawyer at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. This article has been written in personal capacity, and the thoughts expressed in it cannot be attributed to any Council of Europe body.
Human Rights Practice Reviews

The Russian Federation

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Authors Igor Bartsits, Oleg Zaytsev and Kira Sazonova PhD
Author's information

Igor Bartsits
Igor Bartsits is the Director of IPACS RANEPA, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honoured Lawyer of the Russian Federation.

Oleg Zaytsev
Oleg Zaytsev is the Dean of the School of Law, Doctor of Law, IPACS RANEPA.

Kira Sazonova PhD
Kira Sazonova is the Assistant Professor, Ph.D. in International Law, Ph.D. in Politics, IPACS RANEPA.
Human Rights Literature Reviews

Estonia

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Authors Ingrid Kauler LLM
Author's information

Ingrid Kauler LLM
LLM (Advanced) on European and International Human Rights Law, Leiden University; Lawyer; Lecturer on EU Law, Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society; Study and Program Administrator for Master’s programmes in Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, University of Luxembourg.
Article

On Lessons Learned and Yet to Be Learned

Reflections on the Lithuanian Cases in the Strasbourg Court’s Grand Chamber

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Keywords human rights, European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, Lithuania
Authors Egidijus Kūris
Abstract

    During the two-and-a-half decades while Lithuania has been a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has decided five Lithuanian cases. They all (perhaps but one) raised controversial issues not only of law but also of those pertaining to matters non-legal: psychology, politics, history and so on. There had been follow-ups to most of them, allowing for consideration as to the merits and disadvantages of the respective judgments. These cases are narrated on in their wider-than-legal context and reflected upon from the perspective of their bearing on these issues and of the lessons they taught both to Lithuania, as a respondent State, and to the Court itself.


Egidijus Kūris
Human Rights Practice Reviews

Albania

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Authors Anisia Mandro LLM
Author's information

Anisia Mandro LLM
Anisia Mandro (European Union Law - LLM), Legal Researcher and Legal Adviser in the area of competition law, data protection, and human rights; Consultant in approximation of national legislation with EU acquis Communautaire.
Article

Primus Inter Pares? In Search of ‘Fundamental’ Human Rights

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2019
Keywords hierarchy, jus cogens, International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Authors Julia Kapelańska-Pręgowska
AbstractAuthor's information

    International human rights law is one of the most developed and codified regimes (branches) of public international law. Since 1948 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the number and scope of human rights standards evolved considerably. Prima facie this tendency reflects a generally positive phenomenon and is driven by the human rights approach in international law, but at the same time it may raise questions of the system’s efficiency, internal coherence, hierarchy of rights and mechanisms of protection and monitoring. Against the richness of human rights standards, designations such as ‘fundamental’, ‘essential’, ‘basic’, ‘crucial’ or ‘core’ are being used and ascribed to diverse concepts (inter alia, customary international human rights, erga omnes obligations, non-derogable rights, jus cogens or absolute rights). The article explores the provisions of general human rights instruments – the UDHR, the two Covenants and regional treaties, as well as relevant case-law of the ICJ, ECtHR and IACtHR in search of a definition and catalogue of fundamental human rights.


Julia Kapelańska-Pręgowska
Chair of Human Rights, Faculty of Law and Administration, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland.
Article

The European Court of Human Rights in the States of the Former Yugoslavia

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Ex-Yugoslavia, European Court of Human Rights, domestic implementation, the rule of law, human rights
Authors Jernej Letnar Černič
AbstractAuthor's information

    The countries of the former Yugoslavia have in past decades failed to fully meet both the challenges of the socio-economic environment and of the full-fledged functioning of the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Their development was in the first decade halted by the inter-ethnic wars, while in the second decade their institutions have been hijacked by various populist interest groups. All the countries of the former Yugoslavia have been so far facing a constant crisis of liberal democratic institutions of the modern state, based on the rule of law. Only a small number of them have decided to accept effective measures to break away from such crises. In order to present the problems of the newly established democracies in the former Yugoslavia, this article presents and analyses the contributions of the European Court of Human Rights to establishing the rule of law and effective human rights protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. In the closing part of the article, conclusions are drawn on how those countries should proceed to internalize the values of human rights protections in liberal democracies.


Jernej Letnar Černič
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Government and European Studies, Nova Univerza, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Human Rights Practice Review

Hungary

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2018
Authors Kriszta Kovács LLM, PhD
Author's information

Kriszta Kovács LLM, PhD
LLM, PhD in Law, associate professor at ELTE University Faculty of Social Sciences, Senior Researcher at WZB Berlin Center for Global Constitutionalism.
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