Opening Day (August 1st)

Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff’s input focused on the concept of „untouchability“ that underpins the German dignity clause in the reading of the Federal Constitutional Court. The ensuing discussion among fellows concentrated on the object-formula of the court: What does it mean to “treat another human being as a mere object”? A further round of discussion was prompted by a question put on the table by Gertrude: How can a particular restriction of the freedom of expression (namely, the denial of the fact that the holocaust took place) be justified by having recourse to human dignity? What is the role of law in the context?

Emily Kidd White gave a presentation on the role of human dignity in comparative human rights law, with a particular focus on the role of dignity as a value under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The fellows had the opportunity to discuss the relationship between human dignity and discrimination law.

Sima Kramer presented Israeli case-law on the privatization of prisons, a move sanctioned by the Knesset and eventually declared unconstitutional by the Israeli Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s main argument was that the transfer of authority with respect to taking peoples’ liberty and holding them in prison amounted to a violation of human dignity.

Vanessa Hellmann and Akemi Kamimura discussed case-law of the German Federal Constitution Court and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights relating to the conditions prevailing in prison facilities and to the treatment of prisoners while they were being held in prison (size of the cells; overcrowding; being forced to undress in front of others; being forced to spend a night naked in a cell lacking all amenities).