Tuesday 16 November 2010

Protecting the Right of Individual Application

In recent years there have been various interferences with individuals trying to bring their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Applicants in detention have been barred from contacting a lawyer, pressure has been put on applicants, or proceedings have even been started on the national level against applicants' legal representatives in order to hamper the application to Strasbourg. Apparently, this development has become so worrysome, that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe felt the need to once again stress the duty of state parties to the ECHR to respect and protect the individual right of application in a resolution adopted last week. The Ministers note "with concern that there have been isolated, but nevertheless alarming, failures to respect and protect the right of individual application (such as obstructing the applicant’s communication with the Court, refusing to allow the applicant to contact his lawyer, bringing pressure to bear on witnesses or bringing inappropriate proceedings against the applicant’s representatives), as found in recent years by the Court." The Ministers call upon the states (read: themselves) to refrain from such pressure on applicants, to to protect them, to comply with the interim measures of the Court in this respect, and to investigate all cases of such alleged interferences. The Committee of Ministers indicates that it will examine with urgency such cases in which the Court found a violation of the right to individual application in this respect. Increased vigilance, in other words.