Reform of the European Court of Human Rights
Access Info has joined human rights groups from around Europe in calling for the European Court of Human Rights to be given the resources needed to function properly, but not at the expense of other Council of Europe human rights mechanisms.
This campaign is in response to planned reforms of the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg and representing 47 European member states and 800 million individuals. In more than 80% of rulings, states are found to have violated human rights. A letter signed by 150 organisations, calls for a better screening process for cases (about 90% of which are currently ruled are inadmissible) and improved translation and dissemination of the Court’s case law.
For Access Info the effective functioning of the European Court of Human Rights is important because it has ruled in favour of a right of access to information and it is expected that more cases will be presented to the court in the coming year.
At the moment, there is a huge backlog of individual petitions that would have been rendered unnecessary had the national governments adhered to their clearly established obligations under the Convention. Domestic remedies therefore need to be improved, or established where none exist.
An analysis of the judgments made in the past 50 years reveals that half of them are actually repetitions of previous cases. In order to avoid this, member States should be able to request Advisory Opinions from the European Court of Human Rights in order to implement a set of general standards for the protection of Human Rights domestically. The screening of legislation for compliance with the Convention and the involvement of both national Parliaments and human rights institutions in this endeavour is also advisable.
The implementation of the Court’s judgments is supervised by the Committee of Ministers, representing all 47 Council of Europe states. This committee needs to be strengthened, as does the Department of Execution of Judgements, in order to ensure that member States actually comply with ECHR rulings and implement the judgements adequately.