Friday 2 October 2015

Article 46 ECHR to the Rescue?

This week, both the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the President of the European Court of Human Rights have called upon the Committee of Ministers to start making use of the 'infringement' procedure of Article 46 ECHR, introduced as part of the reforms of Protocol 14. The procedure offers the possibility to refer to the Court an issue when implementation of a judgment is hindered by either questions of interpretation (para. 3) or a refusal to abide by a judgment (para. 4). Thus far this procedure has not yet been used.

The trigger was a new report (no. 8 of this kind) by rapporteur Klaas de Vries on recurring, systemic implementation problems in a number of state parties. As in previous yeas, a small group of countries (although admittedly some very populous ones) is responsible the large majority of the Court's backlog. Almost 80% of applications stems from just nine state parties where structural problems (poor detention conditions, ill-treatment by security forces and overly long domestic court procedures) lead to repetitive cases: Italy, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Greece, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. More generally, almost 11,000 of the Court's judgments remain unimplemented.

The recommendation of PACE on the issue can be found here and the statement of the Court's President here. In a resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly deplored "the delays in implementation and the lack of political will of certain States Parties to implement judgments of the Court." Close followers of Strasbourg may see this newest episode as another shot in a long series of similar calls. Only the emphasis on Article's 46 yet unused possibilities is relatively new - using it may be worth a try.