Thursday 8 March 2012

NGO Statement on European Court Reforms

The Open Society Justice Initiative has put a joint statement of a large number of NGOs online. The text reflects the concerns about the current reforms process of the ECHR. Amongst others it warns against greater latitude for governments to avoid their human rights obligations and it argues for an evaluation of the effects of the recent Protocol 14 reforms and the Court's own internally reformed working methods, before adding reform to reform to reform ... Individuals can also sign up to the petition, as for example Emma Bonino, Olivier de Schutter and Bill Bowring have done.

The Justice Initiative has also put five factsheets on the reform debates on their website. The issues addresse in these sheets are the following:

1. Summary of Brighton Declaration Draft. A summary of the proposed text advanced by the British government which currently holds the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

2. Protocol 14: How It Works. Introduced in June 2010, this amendment to the European Convention of Human Rights contained measures aimed at improving the court's ability to manage its caseload.

3. Protocol 14: De Minimis. A look at steps being implemented under the latest reforms to prevent trivial cases from taking up court time.

4. Pilot Judgments. By ensuring that a single "pilot" judgment is properly implemented, the court is seeking to resolves similar, repetitive complaints from other applicants.

5. The "Filtering" Debate. The court set up a filtering unit in 2011 to weed out inadmissible applications from Russia, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Poland, but there are concerns that further filtering could obstruct substantive applications.