The Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Individuals by the European Court of Human RightsBack More details
Several legal authors have noted that, in recent years, vulnerability reasoning has played an increasingly prominent role in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. In order to test this hypothesis, this article analysed all Court judgments that contain the terms "vulnerability", "vulnerable" or "vulnérabilité", adding up to 557 cases until January 2014. his comprehensive body of case law allows for a new analysis of the role of vulnerability in the Court's case law. A marked increase is found in the use of vulnerability reasoning by the Court; since 2007 (2 %) the use has risen to 8 % of the total number of judgments in 2013. A substantive analysis of the judgments reveals that the Court makes several distinctions between diferent types of vulnerability, while it also brings to light internal contradictions. For instance, the Court is ambiguous on whether certain groups, e.g. victims in criminal cases, are categorically vulnerable. In the final section, it is argued that the increase of the use of vulnerability reasoning by the Court coincides with its more active stance in the protection of disadvantaged groups. Vulnerability provides a strong instrument to place greater responsibilities on and reduce the margin of appreciation of states.
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