Monday 21 February 2022

The Court in 2021: (worrying) facts and figures

Each year, the European Court of Human Rights issues annual reports that provide an overview of its activities, case-law and other facts and figures. The 2021 reports were issued last week, and are available herehere and here

The overview of the Court’s case-law showcase a summary of key judgments that have further elucidated or developed standards under each Convention article. For example, it elaborates how Georgia v. Russia II has shaped the understanding of extraterritoriality under Article 1, how Kurt v Austria has strengthened the standards of protection with regards to domestic violence under Article 2, and so on.

Facts and figures show the number of cases received, allocated and decided by the Court, as well as what rights have been predominantly violated in Europe and by whom.

Within a year, the Court has issued 1105 judgments in relation to more than 3000 applications (some cases were joined), and has decided more than 36000 applications with a judgment, decision or by striking the case out of the list.

More than 20% of the judgments concerned the right to a fair trial, 19% in relation to the prohibition of torture, 18% in relation to the right to liberty and security and 9% concerning the right to respect for private life.

Similar to last year, a quarter of all applications before the Court were lodged against Russia, 21% against Turkey, 16% against Ukraine, 8% against Romania, and 5% against Italy. It is worrying that, just like in the previous years (see here and here) more than 75 % of applications were brought against 5 states only. These facts and figures suggest that the number of cases before the Court cannot be reduced only by reforming the 'machinery'. A more meaningful and holistic analysis is needed to look at the causes and types of violations, and how to ensure that all States, and in particular the 'usual suspects' that top the number of applications, take seriously the obligation to respect human rights, as enshrined in Article 1 of the Convention.