We had not yet reported on it, but at the end of last month, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted guidelines to assist themselves, the 46 Council of Europe member states, in their efforts to comply with their obligations to secure to everyone, within their jurisdiction, the rights and freedoms defined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The formal title is 'Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers on the prevention and remedying of violations of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms'. In many ways a compilation of earlier standards and recommendations in one single document and aiming to address the implementation gap, the Guidelines in the Committee of Ministers' own words focus on the following:
- preventing violations through effective national implementation of the Convention (extending awareness-raising of, and training on, the Convention system)
- improving domestic remedies
- facilitating the domestic application of the Convention and relevant case law of the Court
- 'improving verification of the compliance of draft laws, existing laws and administrative practices with the Convention
- improving parliamentary involvement
- strengthening the role of National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organisations
- promoting experience sharing, enhancing co-operation programmes with the Council of Europe
- and considering the ratification of Protocol No. 16 to the Convention (concerning requests for advisory opinions).
As regards remedying violations found by the Court, the guidelines recommend that member states:
- strengthen domestic capacity for rapid and effective remedial action and coordination structures
- improve the publication and dissemination of information on the execution of judgments of the Court
- ensure that remedies are fully effective in the execution context
- enhance efforts to deal with technical and other obstacles regarding the execution of the Court’s judgments
- and promote stakeholder participation in the execution process.'