NO RETROACTIVE APPLICATION OF THE LAW IN A CASE CONCERNING A CONTINUOUS CRIMINAL OFFENCE

In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Rohlena v. the Czech Republic (application no. 59552/08), the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: no violation of Article 7 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention on Human Rights The case concerned the applicant’s conviction for a continuous criminal offence of abusing a person living under the same roof. The applicant complained in particular that his conviction encompassed his conduct before that offence had been introduced into the law on 1 June 2004. The Court accepted that Mr Rohlena’s earlier acts had amounted to criminal offences punishable under the Criminal Code in force prior to 1 June 2004 and that they comprised the constituent elements of the offence introduced into the amended Code on 1 June 2004. The Court ruled that the fact of finding the applicant guilty under the latter version of the Code also in respect of acts committed before that date did not constitute retroactive application of the law as prohibited by the Convention. The Court therefore considered that the offence had had a basis in national law at the time it was committed and that the law had defined the offence sufficiently clearly to meet the requirement of foreseeability flowing from Article 7 of the Convention. It further held that the fact of convicting the applicant of a continuous offence had not resulted in a more severe sentence than would have been imposed on him if he had been tried for several separate offences.

source: ECHR Press Release

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