January 30, 2012
Effectiveness of the ECHR
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly had their weekly session. Parliamentarians started with the adoption of the report of the effectiveness of the European Convention of Human Rights protection system. The report has been prepared by Mrs. Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc, The Netherlands, Group of the European People’s Party. The report refers to the problem of the rising backlog of ECHR cases: in 2006 the backlog stood at 86,000; now there are over 160,000 applications pending, increasing at a rate of 20,000 per annum. If major structural/systemic problems were resolved in six states, namely Italy, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and Ukraine, which together provide for nearly 70% of all applications brought before the Court in Strasbourg, the Court would be able to spend much more of its time on its principal task as the judicial guardian of human rights in all of Europe. The Convention system is in danger of asphyxiation, and States, if they wish to maintain the Court’s principal role must concentrate their efforts on ensuring effective protection of human rights on the domestic, national plane. The report mentions several proposals to improve the situation. The most important is subsidiarity, member states should provide effective domestic remedies to ensure that human rights are respected and that their law and practice conform to the Convention, as well as execute fully and in good time judgments of the Strasbourg Court.
The report finds it necessary to introduce a procedure allowing the highest national courts to request advisory opinions from the Court concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention that would help clarify the provisions of the Convention and the Court’s case-law. The report highlights two priorities. The first concerns the need for the Court to be given the means to appropriately regulate the filtering of applications and to deal with repetitive cases. Moreover, the focus should be on “persistent defaulters”, that is countries in which serious human rights problems exist. The long-term effectiveness of the European Convention of Human Rights is therefore principally in the hands of member states, their executive, judicial and parliamentary authorities.
New HR Commissioner
Another important outcome of the session was the election of the new Commissioner of Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks (Latvia) was elected for a non-renewable term of six years starting on 1 April 2012. In his introductory speech the newly elected Commissioner underlined his interest in the human rights situation in CEE countries, being himself the director of the Latvian Center for Human Rights.
Preventing domestic violence
On 26 January 2012 the PACE adopted a Resolution 1861 (2012) on the Promoting the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The Assembly is convinced that the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence can save and change the lives of millions of victims and make a tangible contribution to improving the respect of human rights and the status of women, in Europe and beyond. For this to happen, however, the convention needs to be signed and ratified by a at least six member states of Council of Europe to enable it to enter into force. The Resolution calls for a rapid signature and ratification of the Convention by member states.
Resolutions on HR in Ukraine and Belarus
The Parliamentary Assembly assessed the situation of human rights in Belarus and Ukraine. With two resolutions the Parliamentary Assembly expressed concerns on the situation of human rights protection, such as freedom of expression, assembly keeping of death penalty (resolution 1857 (2012)). At the same time parliamentarians appealed to the Committee of Ministers to call on Council of Europe member states to use the political and diplomatic leverage at their disposal to convince the Belarusian authorities to take the relevant legislative initiatives to bring domestic law into conformity with internationally recognised human rights (resolution 1992(2012)). Parliamentarians condemn the regulations of the Ukrainian criminal code enabling the conviction of politicians for their political decisions. They also reaffirmed concerns on the lack of independence of the judiciary (resolution 1862 (2012)).
Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, “Europe of Human Rights”
Author : Europe of Human Rights