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Woman wins landmark case for the rights of single mothers and their children

Paula Marckx was unmarried when she had a baby girl. Paula was shocked to discover that, because she was single, her child would not be recognised as being hers unless she went through a legal process. Even after this, her daughter would have a reduced legal status and would not inherit from her. The European court ruled this violated their right to family life – leading to a change to Belgian...

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Death of an alleged victim of human trafficking

At age 20, Oxana Rantseva was allegedly trafficked from Russia to Cyprus for sexual exploitation. Two weeks later, she was found dead beneath a balcony after trying to escape. The Strasbourg court found that the authorities had failed to protect her and also failed to properly investigate after her death. Following the events, a series of measures were carried out to fight human trafficking.

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Decriminalisation of homosexuality after architect wins case in Strasbourg

For decades, Cypriot law criminalised homosexual relationships between men. Alecos Modinos suffered from strain, apprehension and fear of prosecution due to his relationship with another man. The European court ruled that the criminalisation of Alecos’ sexuality violated his basic rights to a private life. In 1998, Cyprus decriminalised homosexual relationships.

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Reinstatement of judge said to be the victim of political corruption

Oleksandr Volkov was dismissed from his role as a Supreme Court judge. His lawyer argued that he had been the victim of political corruption, which sought to undermine the independence of the Ukrainian judiciary. The Strasbourg court ruled that his dismissal had been filled with bias and manipulation, in breach of his basic rights. Mr Volkov was reinstated as a Supreme Court judge in 2015.

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Human trafficking criminalised after 14-year-old girl kept in domestic servitude in Paris

From the age of 14, Henriette Akofa Siliadin was kept in domestic servitude. She worked all day, 7 days a week for over 4 years, for no pay. The people responsible could not be properly brought to justice, because French law had not criminalised their actions. The case helped bring about legal reforms to combat human trafficking.

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Legal aid system introduced after woman suffering from domestic violence was unable to access the courts

Mrs Airey wanted to be legally separated from her husband, who was allegedly a violent alcoholic. However, there was no legal aid and she could not afford the lawyers’ fees. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the lack of legal aid effectively denied Mrs Airey access to a court, breaching her basic rights. Legal aid for such cases was introduced in Ireland in the following year.

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Man’s struggle leads to the legalisation of homosexuality in Ireland

David Norris suffered from anxiety attacks and depression after realising that any open expression of his homosexuality could lead to a criminal prosecution. The Strasbourg court ruled that the criminalisation of his sexuality breached his basic rights. In 1993, this led to the full legalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults under Irish law.

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