Discrimination

  • Discrimination, Democracy, and Postmodern Human Rights

    The question of discrimination, as far as it is considered in the field of philosophy, cannot be perceived as a problem which can be effectively combated. Even the most precise diagnosis of human nature will not restrain people from defining others as evil and inferior. The most universal and spacious conventions, declarations, cards or bills will not solve the problem either. They can be regarded as an example of applied philosophy at most. On the other hand, we should pose the question what the world would look like if political pragmatism were the main obligatory rule. Thus, the situation finds us between philosophical wishful thinking about a global order free from discrimination and macro – or micropolitical pragmatism.

  • Argumentation of the Court of Strasbourg’s Jurisprudence regarding the discrimination against Roma

    While the Court has, to some degree, started to protect against discrimination based on birth or nationality, the protection against discrimination on the basis of race until 2005 has been very poor and dubious. Upon reviewing the case law of the ECHR, we find that since the case “Relating to certain aspects of the laws on the use of language in education in Belgium” v. Belgium in 1968, the Court has decided to opt in favor of the original English version of art. 14, which underscores that the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms must be assured “without discrimination” and defends the concept that equality should be interpreted as non-discrimination, while clarifying that this disposition does not prohibit preferential treatment, such that, in the eyes of the Court, this principle is only violated when preferential treatment implies “a discriminatory treatment”, so the task for us is to determine in detail when the two are correlated. The cited decision is an essential reference as it provides the pointers needed to discern whether or not a violation of art. 14 exists, as in a “test” of equality that entails: (1) whether the distinction in treatment lacks objective justification; (2) whether the difference in treatment results in conformity with the objective of the effects of the measure examined attendant to the principles that generally prevail in democratic societies; (3) whether there exists a reasonable relationship between the means used and the end sought. Despite this interpretational recognition of art. 14, if we analyze in detail the Court’s jurisprudence, how the Court has approached the topic of discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin is somewhat disappointing. The fact that during decades plaintiffs were required to provide proof beyond the shadow of a doubt has restricted the Court’s influence on discriminatory actions based on race or ethnicity; for this reason, it is not unexpected that in time critical dissidence arose, even within the Court itself. A good example of this is given by Judge Bonello in the decision Anguelova vs Bulgaria (2002). Here we analyze how the jurisprudence of the Court of Strasbourg has evolved in the context of discrimination against Roma, so as to ascertain the challenges that remain in this area.

  • Electoral Rights and Intellectual Disability: Considerations de lege lata

    The Constitution of the Republic of Poland mentions as one of the principles of electoral law its universality. This means that anyone who meets the requirements of law is entitled to vote. The admissibility of exclusions from this principle is also expressly defined by the law. One of the limitations in the exercise of electoral rights is an intellectual disability resulting in the incapacity of the individual. Meanwhile, Poland’s international obligations resulting e.g. from the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides with a necessity of a deeper reflection on the present solutions. The ratification by Poland of the UN Convention has stimulated discussion on the political rights of people with intellectual disabilities, extending the field of debate on the legitimacy of the current form of institution of incapacitation. The aim of this article is to reflect on the current solutions in the exercise of electoral rights by people affected by intellectual disability but not being incapacitated.

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