The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment, in French] Wednesday that children of married couples in Italy must be allowed to carry their mother's surname. The court found that restricting a child's surname to that of its father violated Article 8 (right to respect for private and family) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The case was brought by Alessandra Cusan and Luigi Fazzo, married Italian nationals, who wanted to include their daughter on the civil register under her mother's family name, Cusan. The Constitutional Court of Italy ruled [ECHR press release, PDF] in 2006 that only the Italian Parliament [official website, in Italian] could decide the issue. The court held that the system where a child's surname was determined solely on the basis of the parent's sex, without the possibility of deviation was excessively rigid and discriminatory towards women in violation of Article 8 and Article 14 when read together.
The ECHR rules [ECHR backgrounder; PDF] on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. In December the ECHR ruled [JURIST report] that prosecutions for denying that the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was a genocide are an attack on freedom of expression. Also in December lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees, arguing before the ECHR, accused [JURIST report] Poland of serving as a secret torture site for the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) [official website] extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive]. In November The Spanish National Court [official website, in Spanish] ordered the release [JURIST report] of 13 members of the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in compliance with a ECHR ruling [judgment; press release, PDF] made in October.