Wednesday 28 May 2014

Report on Reinforcing the Court's Independence

Rapporteur Boriss Cilevičs, a member of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly from Latvia, has written a report aimed to support and further strengthen the independence of the European Court of Human Rights. The report reads, in its first part, as a concise introduction to the theme of how the Court is organised and how judges are elected. It then goes on to touch upon a number of specific matters and upcoming reforms related to protecting the factual independence of judges. This ranges from criteria of age and retirement, through privileges and immunities to social security and pensions. The report deals, for example, with the post-Court life of judges, noting the following:
"... a number of former judges of the Court have experienced difficulties in finding employment.  In some extreme cases, these difficulties may, purportedly, be caused by an ’insufficiently patriotic’ position of judges taken on prominent cases against their own states. To put it plainly, an ’overly principled stand’ by a judge may entail an element of ‘revenge’ by national authorities upon the judge’s retirement. The risk of similar treatment for a serving judge may compromise judicial independence."
The report, finally, also addresses concerns about the independence of the Court's support staff, the Registry, on the specific issue of staff seconded from state parties and on staff on temporary contracts. The report ends with a positive note - the Court as the crown jewel of the Council of Europe - but simultaneously remarks that on the specfic points dealt with there is still room for improvement.