The European Court of Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Historical Abuse in Consolidated Democracies

Abstract

In recent years, both transitional justice and the role of the European Court of Human Rights in dealing with historical abuses have evolved. Transitional justice has begun to address widespread or systemic human rights abuses outside of the contexts of armed conflict and authoritarian regimes. In three key recent judgments, El-Masri v Macedonia, Janowiec v Russia and O’Keeffe v Ireland, the Court has clarified and expanded its approach to addressing historical human rights violations relevant to transitional justice in significant, if inconsistent, ways. To date, there is no exploration of the relationship between transitional justice, historical abuse outside the contexts of armed conflict or authoritarian rule and the European Convention of Human Rights. This article seeks to address that gap by considering the potential opportunities and obstacles for the use of the Convention to address historical abuse in consolidated democracies as a part of transitional justice.