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Proving discriminatory violence at the European Court of Human Rights

On Tuesday 23 May 2017, Jasmina Mackic will defend her doctoral thesis ‘Proving discriminatory violence at the European Court of Human Rights’. The defence will start at 15.00 hrs, at the Academy Building of Leiden University, Rapenburg 73. The supervisor of the research is Vice Dean and Professor of Public International Law Larissa van den Herik. A brief summary of her thesis is provided below.

Jasmina Mackic

Prominent European institutions and organisations frequently report on the incidence of discriminatory violence, motivated on such grounds as colour, association with a national minority, religion or sexual orientation, in various European States. For example, Russia is currently being urged to investigate promptly, effectively and thoroughly accusations of torture, abductions and killings of men believed to be gay in Chechnya and to ensure that anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes is brought to justice. Another example concerns frequent reports on violence suffered by asylum seekers and migrants across the European Union. 

This thesis explores the engagement of a fundamental European institution with the phenomenon of discriminatory violence, namely, the European Court of Human Rights. The main purpose of this thesis is to determine whether the evidentiary framework deployed by the European Court of Human Rights is adequate in discriminatory violence cases, and to offer suggestions for improvement where it is not.

To reach that purpose, this study focuses on three evidentiary issues in cases of discriminatory violence. Firstly, it explores whether the Court’s application of the standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ forms an obstacle in establishing the occurrence of discriminatory violence. Secondly, it explores the circumstances in which the burden of proof may shift from the applicant to the respondent State. Thirdly, the study looks at the types of evidentiary materials that may be used by the Court in order to establish discriminatory violence.

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