Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Not all coverage of European News is that bad

I've complained about journalists confusing the ECJ and ECHR before, so I thought I'd just point out an article that caught my eye last week in the Irish Times:

"European Court to be told Irish abortion ban violates rights".

It caught my eye because it does make the distinction between the EU and the ECHR, and it brings up an interesting case before the ECHR which affects some of the politics of the religious right who sided with the No side campaign in the Lisbon Treaty referendums. The claim that the Treaty would affect Irish law on abortion was a false one, which makes the distinction between the two courts in the media all the more important if there's to be a clear and proper debate on it.

"The court is to have a full hearing of the case before its grand chamber of 17 judges on December 9th.

Based in Strasbourg, the court, which is separate from the EU, adjudicates on human rights issues among all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – now incorporated into Irish law – the Government is obliged to seek to implement whatever decisions are made by the courts.

The identities of the women, known as A, B and C, will remain confidential as the case proceeds.

They include a woman who ran the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, where the foetus develops outside the womb; a woman who received chemotherapy for cancer; and a woman whose children were placed in care as she was unable to cope.

They argue that the lack of any effective remedy at home means they have satisfied the requirement to exhaust domestic legal remedies. In addition, they say that taking a case would have been costly, futile and could have forced them to relinquish their anonymity.

The Government, however, contends that domestic legal remedies have not been exhausted by the women. It also robustly challenges suggestions by them that there is a lack of post-abortion care or counselling in Ireland. Among the questions the court will ask of the Government, and the the three women, include:

Have the applicants exhausted domestic legal remedies available?"

Also, the case is interesting in itself, since it will consider whether a case will be taken on by the court if it hasn't been through the entire national legal system first. So it could be an interesting case to watch out for, with the hearing beginning tomorrow.

I first mentioned this case here.

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