Osmani v The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: ECHR 11 Oct 2001

The applicant, a mayor, organised an armed vigil to protect the Albanian flag in defiance of an order of the Constitutional Court. He made a speech fomenting interethnic violence. Weapons were found in the town hall and there was a riot involving about 200 people during which police officers were injured.
Held: The original sentence of seven years’ imprisonment was severe but, as a result of an amnesty he served 15 months in prison, but that could not be considered disproportionate: ‘The above circumstances lead the Court to conclude that the present case is different from Osmani and Others because the protesters’ conduct, although involving a certain degree of disturbance and causing some damage, did not amount to violence. It is therefore closer on the facts to Steel and Others, Drieman and Others, Lucas and Barraco.
The exceptional severity of the sanction, however, distinguishes the present case from the cases of Steel and Others, Drieman and Others, Lucas and Barraco, where the measures taken against the applicants in comparable circumstances were considered to be justified by the demands of public order. Indeed, in none of those cases was the sentence longer than a few days’ imprisonment without remission, except in one case Barraco) where it amounted to a suspended sentence of three months’ imprisonment which was not, in the end, served. The court accordingly considers that the circumstances of the instant case present no justification for being remanded in custody for a year and for the sentence of three years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years.
The Court therefore concludes that, although a sanction for the applicant’s actions might have been warranted by the demands of public order, the lengthy period of detention pending trial and the long suspended prison sentence imposed on her were not proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. The court considers that the unusually severe sanction imposed in the present case must have had a chilling effect on the applicant and other persons taking part in protest actions




Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedRoberts and Others v Regina CACD 6-Dec-2018
Sentencing of Political Protesters
The defendants appealed against sentences for causing a public nuisance. They had been protesting against fracking by climbing aboard a lorry and blocking a main road for several days.
Held: The appeals from immediate custodial sentences were . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Criminal Sentencing

Updated: 14 July 2022; Ref: scu.630988