Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Human Rights in the European Union

Coinu Photo Demuro PhotoGreetings from Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy), where students from the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law are presenting summaries of significant human rights cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union.  The Italian students are presenting these summaries for law students from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, who are attending classes this week in Cagliari.

The cases being discussed today include the decison of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Zambrano case, C-34/09 (8 Mar. 2011), which involved the question of whether non-EU citizens from Colombia should be granted Belgian (and European) citizenship because two children of the Colombian couple were born in Belgium.  The children had the right to Belgian citizenship but they could not exercise that if their parents would not be allowed to live with them.  The case prohibited Member States of the European Union from a refusing to grant residency to a foreign (non-EU) national whose dependent minor children have the right to live in Europe.  The foreign national also had a right to work in Europe because to deny him that right would deprive the EU citizen children of their rights to the status of an European Union citizen.

Another case being presented is the ECJ's decision in the Omega Case C-36/02, which involved restrictions in Germany on laser game facilities where players shoot at each other with laser guns. In other countries these games are acceptable (and even quite popular) but Germany viewed the games as violating human dignity by simulating homicide and trivializing violence.  Despite the rules that would otherwise permit and even require free trade, there is an exception where the trade involved is contrary to fundamental values.

Another case presented was the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which in 2011 ruled in Lautsi v. Italy that the Italian law requiring schools to display crucifixes in classrooms in state schools did not violate the European Convention on Human RIghts.  The ECHR accepted the argument that the crucifix in Italy was not a religious symbol but could instead be viewed as a national, historical, and cultural symbol.  

Other cases discussed included European and Italian cases on the recognition and protection of same-sex couples, and included a debate on the legal differences between same-sex marriage and civil unions. 

This innovative international human rights and constitutional rights course is being taught by Professors Giovani Coinu and Dr. Gianmario Demuro (pictured at right) of the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law.  Assisting are Professors David Austin of the California Western School of Law and Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Dr. Demuro and Professor William B.T. Mock Jr. of The John Marshall Law School had previously worked on a book on Human Rights in Europe.  Click here for more information about that book.


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