At a time when the euro crisis publicly engulfs the European identity in a political and ontological crisis, out of the public eye the European Court of Human Rights has commenced its deliberations on Vinter and Others v. United Kingdom following a hearing on the 28th of November 2012. The case concerns the compatibility of life long imprisonment with Article 3 (freedom from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. I argue that this case is timely for a number of reasons. While the abolition of the death penalty in Europe is celebrated as an expression of a European penal consciousness that itself can be seen as a trait of the European identity, in its wake the use and length of life sentences, including indeterminate prison sentences for public protection, show an alarming upward trend. This upward trend has taken place along many notable successes in the legalisation of prisoners’ human rights as the European Court of Human Rights and national courts show greater willingness than ever before to scrutinise matters pertaining to prison policy and practice and prisoner treatment. Drawing on prison studies on the effects of life imprisonment, my own data from interviews with lifers in England & Wales and The Netherlands and relevant human rights based prison case law, I build an argument for the abolition of life long imprisonment in Europe and for a principled qua restrained approach to the use of life and indeterminate prison sentences. My claim is that, like the abolition of the death penalty, they too need to be part of the European (penal) consciousness - a consciousness that identifies with principles and values as important as the rule of law and human rights.
Thomas Kronschläger and Eva Sommer
Ever since the implementation of the LHC at CERN, visions of apocalyptical scenarios, involving ‘black holes’, ‘dark matter’, ‘strange matter’ and so forth, were propagated by the media. The field in which CERN is operating has been raising concerns and anxieties, leading to several lurid newspaper articles in many European countries; it even resulted in an action for injunction at the European Court of Human Rights, filed by a private institution. In an interdisciplinary qualitative approach, drawing on Keller’s methodology ‘sociology of knowledge approach to discourse’ (SKAD), the public discourse on CERN’s LHC will be analysed. Using a sample of journalistic texts, underlying patterns will be classified, categorised and analysed separately. The SKAD approach seems to be suitable for analysis here, given the problem of distribution of knowledge appears to be a relevant factor.
How do human beings experience the surname change issue in terms of the protection of equal legal, social and economic rights, with particular reference to the documentary Yok Anasının Soyadı / Mrs. His Name? Indeed, my surname was also changed without my consent after my marriage. One day I realised I had two diplomas, each with a different name on it; however, both those people are me. Visually, my name has multiplied like an amoeba: Hande Çayır, Hande Aydın, Hande Çayır Aydın. From this visible sign, people around me – for example, the civil establishment – have gained the apparent right to talk about my personal life in the public sphere. Afterwards, I remembered the feminist quote ‘the personal is the political,’ started my own research, and found out that women in Turkey are required to change their surname when they marry and divorce. If they would like to continue using their ex-husband’s surname after a divorce, they need to get permission from both the ex-husband and the State. Because of this unfair policy, some women have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as the motion was opposed in Turkish courts, and subsequently the ECHR is requiring the Turkish Government to pay an indemnity. Thus, the link between surnames and identity is a crucial human rights debate. The media portrays this issue as one that is currently being solved. However, after my visit to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, I came to the conclusion that the process is not moving forward at all. As an emerging researcher and filmmaker, I have made the seventeen-minute documentary Yok Anasının Soyadı / Mrs. His Name (film: http://vimeo.com/48432993; password: handem82), which is defined as a form of self-narrative that places the self within a social context.