October 13, 2011
Occupy Switzerland?: European Court of Human Rights Finds A Violation of Free Association Rights of RHINO
RHINO - - - an acronym for two alternative French slogans, translated as “Vacant buildings inhabited again” and “Let’s carry on living in the buildings we occupy” - - - was an association established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1988.
After years of activities consistent with its slogans, including squatting in a building with its famous "red horn" (pictured left), legal action terminated not only the possession but the organization itself. Owners of the occupied properties sought a dissolution of the RHINO association "on the grounds that its aims were unlawful." The Swiss courts agreed to dissolve the association.
The European Court of Human Rights, however, has held that the dissolution violated Article 11, "freedom of association," of the European Convention on Human Rights. The dissolution of the association was not proportionate and necessary in a democratic society, and there was no showing that alternative less restrictive measures were available to prevent "disorder." The Court therefore ordered money damages (65,651 euros) and costs to be paid by Switzerland to RHINO.
There were also related eviction proceedings in the Swiss courts; these are also before the European Court of Human Rights.
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