Friday 24 May 2013

Protocol 15 to the ECHR Adopted

Last week, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the new Protocol 15 to the European Convention of Human Rights. It will be be opened for signature at the end of June and will enter into force three months after all ECHR state parties have ratified it - which may take a few years (but hopefully not as long as the previous Protocol). The Protocol itself is a relatively short document with mainly procedural changes to the ECHR system. These are, according to the website of the Council of Europe, its contents in a nutshell:

– Adding a reference to the principle of subsidiarity and the doctrine of the margin of appreciation to the Preamble of the Convention;
– Shortening from six to four months the time limit within which an application must be made to the Court;
– Amending the ‘significant disadvantage’ admissibility criterion to remove the second safeguard preventing rejection of an application that has not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal;
– Removing the right of the parties to a case to object to relinquishment of jurisdiction over it by a Chamber in favour of the Grand Chamber;
– Replacing the upper age limit for judges by a requirement that candidates for the post of judge be less than 65 years of age at the date by which the list of candidates has been requested by the Parliamentary Assembly.

The Explanatory Report to the Protocol can be found here. One of my earlier posts on the Protocol, including links to relevant documents, can be found here.The speech of the Court's president, Spielmann, at the occasion of the adoption, can be retrieved here (in French). In the address, he pointed out that again the Court, in the first few months of 2013, has once again increased its productivity (but also that the Court received more applications) and that the state parties should first and foremost ensure the full implementation of the Convention rights and of the Court's judgments at the national level.

The Court itself has renewed its website. The 'revamping', as the Court calls it, includes a new improved search option, "dynamic' news feeds and more comprehensive information. The main menu is now indeed very clear and transparent. The general set up of the home page is less so and not truly a big improvement on the previous version: news is scattered over three different columns, without a clear intuitive division. Case-law news for example can be found in different columns - it might make more sense to make a clear division between information on (new) jurisprudence and other kinds of news. In addition, the feature which may be of most interest to many - a direct link to HUDOC - is integrated in the upper right corner of the banner but could feature more prominently - e.g. by (also) including it in the quick links where the eyes of most visitors will first wander or simply by making it more contrasting in color. Apart from that, the new site is relatively easy to navigate and the search function is very helpful.