This article studies how the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, the Court) adjusts damages for human rights violations. The article empirically analyses 13 years of ECtHR’s case law in relation to Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (torture, inhuman and degrading treatment), and 5 (arbitrary detention) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, the Convention). The goal is to understand whether the statements made by the Court about the aims pursued through just satisfaction are confirmed in practice. Through an empirical quantitative study relating to non-pecuniary damages, the article analyses the practice of the Court in awarding non-pecuniary damages for human rights violations and compares it to the competing visions of the ECtHR’s function. In particular, I am interested in determining whether just satisfaction is aimed at redressing the suffering of the victim, her circumstances and vulnerability, or whether the focus is more on the respondent state, its conduct and its past human rights record. The answers to these questions will contribute to the debate whether the ECtHR’s role is one of delivering ‘individual justice’ or whether the Court is – as an international court enforcing an international treaty – focused on the ‘state’.
Veronika Fikfak, Non-pecuniary damages before the European Court of Human Rights: Forget the victim; it’s all about the state, Leiden Journal of International Law. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0922156520000035. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 March 2020.