Friday 22 June 2012

Special Account for the European Court of Human Rights

To be able to do more work, the Court is constantly trying to increase its efficiency, but in addition it still needs additional capacity in terms of personnel. In order to enable that, a new special account for the Ccourt has been announced on which state parties to the ECHR can voluntarily contribute. These will be used to deal with high priority cases more speedily. Although such an initiative is of course welcome, it is also sad that the states are not able to increase the budget of the Court for the same purposes together. This is the press release:

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the President of the European Court of Human Rights announce the opening of a special account for the Court and call for voluntary contributions from member

The special account is part of the follow-up to the High Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights held in Brighton in April 2012 and the contributions will essentially be used to recruit lawyers to deal with the Court’s backlog of priority cases.

In a joint statement in Strasbourg today the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and the Court’s President Sir Nicolas Bratza said: “At the High Level Conference in Brighton a number of States indicated their willingness to provide additional financial support to the Court to assist it with its backlog of cases. The contributions paid into this account will be used where they will have the most effect, that is on the cases which have the most impact in terms of identifying and correcting serious human rights abuses throughout the Council of Europe countries and particularly where the alleged victims have been waiting too long for a decision”.

The aim of the fund is therefore to provide additional resources to eliminate cases at the top of the priority queue. At the moment, some 2,000 priority applications have been pending for more than one year without having been communicated1 to the relevant Government for observations. A further 600 applications were communicated to the Government more than two years ago and are still pending before the Court.

It is, however, open to donor States to stipulate that sums they have contributed should be used for a specific purpose such as dealing with applications against them. The Secretary General and the President further said: “The entry into force of the Single Judge procedure and the adoption of new working methods by the Court’s Registry have already proved highly effective in reducing the backlog of inadmissible cases and therefore the waiting time for applicants with inadmissible applications. We now have to pursue these efforts in relation to other categories of cases.”