Ihmisoikeustuomioistuin pulassa

Mikael Storsjö 25.1.2007

Ihmisoikeustuomioistuin pulassa 

Euroopan ihmistuomioistuin on pulassa. Tukala tilanne johtuu voimakkaasti lisääntyneestä hakemusmäärästä. Tuomioistuimen tehokkuuden lisäämiseksi jäsenmaat ovat tehneet sopimuslaajennuksen, nk. Protocol 14. Tämä uudistus on nyt jäissä, sillä sen voimaantulo edellyttää että kaikki jäsenmaat ratifioivat laajennetun sopimuksen. Näin ovatkin kaikki jäsenmaat tehneet – paitsi Venäjä.

Venäjä allekirjoitti ja ratifioi 1998 Euroopan ihmisoikeuksia koskevan yleissopimuksen. Ratifioinnin jälkeen Venäjän kansalaiset ovat voineet tehdä valituksia Euroopan ihmisoikeustuomioistuimeen.

Venäjältä tulleiden valitusten määrä on kasvanut räjähdysmäisesti, mikä kertoo siitä että Venäjällä kansalasiyhteiskunta on oppinut käyttämään Ihmisoikeustuomioistuinta oikeudenmukaisuutta hakiessaan. Vuonna 2006 Euroopan ihmisoikeustuomioistuin vastaanotti noin 10.500 hakemusta Venäjän kansalaisilta. 1.1.2007 tuomioistuimessa oli vireillä 19319 venäläistä tapausta, mikä on 21,5 % kaikista vireillä olevista hakemuksista yhteensä 47 maasta, ja tämä osuus on kasvamassa päin.

Tuomioistuin on vuoden 2006 loppuun mennessä tehnyt kaikkiaan 207 päätöstä Venäjän osalta, joista 197 ovat olleet langettavia päätöksiä.

Tshetsheniassa tapahtuneet ihmisoikeusloukkaukset ovat v. 2006 aikana alkaneet edetä päätösvaiheeseen tuomioistuimessa. Heinäkuussa Venäjä sai langettavan päätöksen Bazorkinan tapauksessa, jossa CNN:n filmikamera sattumalta ikuisti tapahtuman jossa kenraali Baranov (Venäjän sankari, nykyään kaikkien Kaukasiassa olevien sotilasjoukkojen komentaja) antoi tappotuomion vangitulle tshetsheenille. Tammikuussa 2007 tuli langettava päätös Chitayevin tapauksessa; ensimmäistä kertaa olivat Tshetsheniassa tapahtuvat kidutukset tuomiolla.

Bazorkinan tapauksesta löytyy CNN:n filmi ja A-studion ohjelma YouTube:ssa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZW1uwMma5w 

(CNN)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Eh7YaVi3_Y (A-studio)

Monet Ihmisoikeustuomioistuimen puoleen kääntyneet tshetsheenit ovat tästä syystä joutuneet vainon kohteeksi, moni on jopa murhattu sen jälkeen kun on valituksensa tehnyt. Mm. Amnesty on kiinnittänyt tähän järkyttävään tilanteeseen huomiota.

Suurin osa Tshetshenian tapauksista on viety Ihmisoikeustuomioistuimeen ihmisoikeusjärjestön Russian Justice Initiative:n kautta (http://www.srji.org/ ). Venäjän uuden kansalaisjärjestölain myötä tämäkin järjestö on nyt lakkautusuhan alla.

Justice delayed is Justice denied“.

Tämän on oivaltanut myös Putinin Venäjä. Tämä lienee taustalla sille, että nyt halutaan estää Ihmisoikeustuomioistuimen toiminnan tehostamista.

Seuraavassa Euroopan Ihmisoikeustuomioistuimen lehdistötiedote 25.1.2007:

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
25.1.2007
Press release issued by the Registrar

Urgent need to implement reforms to secure future of European Court

The European Court of Human Right’s new President has today called for an important package of reforms to be implemented urgently.

Speaking at the Court’s annual press conference in Strasbourg this afternoon, President Jean-Paul Costa (French) expressed his concern that the long-awaited Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights is still not in place at the beginning of 2007, as had been hoped.

The Protocol is principally designed to help the Court deal more quickly with its ever-growing list of pending cases (now some 90,000 cases), in particular, by simplifying procedures for dealing both with cases which have no chance of success (at least 90% of all cases) and well-founded repetitive cases. The Protocol must be ratified by all 46 European States which have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. 45 States have ratified; Russia has so far failed to do so. 

“The Court is universally known and respected but its future depends on its effectiveness,” Mr Costa told journalists. “If the Court becomes ineffective, it will lose its credibility. The Court needs the support of courts and national authorities and, if Protocol 14 does not enter into force soon, the future of the Court and Convention system will be in jeopardy.

“According to a provisional assessment, without any increase in resources, the application of Protocol 14 will enable the Court to increase its productivity by at least 25%. Although it cannot suffice by itself, the Protocol is therefore indispensable. Everything starts with Protocol 14. The Group of Wise Persons, appointed to make proposals to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Court, have already submitted their report, but it presupposes that Protocol 14 is already in place.

“If nothing is done about the influx of inadmissible and repetitive cases to the Court, our great European institution will be asphyxiated. Protocol 14 must enter into force and as quickly as possible.”

Mr Costa also told journalists that the number of judgments delivered by the Court in 2006 had risen by 40% (from 1105 in 2005 to 1560 in 2006).

The Court has also issued its annual table of violations by country for 2006 at today’s press conference.

***

Further information about the Court can be found on its Internet site (http://www.echr.coe.int/).

Press contacts
Emma Hellyer (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 42 15)
Stéphanie Klein (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 21 54)
Beverley Jacobs (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 54 21)

The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States

Report of the Group of Wise Persons on the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights

INFORMATION SHEET

SUMMARY: The survival of the machinery for the judicial protection of human rights and the Court’s ability to cope with its workload are both seriously under threat from an exponential increase in the number of individual applications which is jeopardising the proper functioning of the Convention’s control system.  There is an essential need for effective measures to remedy this situation on a permanent basis, thus making it possible to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Convention’s control mechanism, without the right of individual application being affected, and allowing the Court to concentrate on its function as the custodian of human rights by relieving it of a whole body of litigation which places an unnecessary burden on it.

 The role of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): The protection mechanism confers on the Court both a role of individual supervision and a “constitutional” mission.  The former consists in verifying the conformity with the Convention of any interference by a state with individual rights and freedoms and making findings as to any violation by the respondent state.  Its other function leads it to lay down common principles and standards relating to human rights and to determine the minimum level of protection which states must observe.

Why a report? Given the explosion in the number of cases and despite the various measures taken, the ECHR system is in danger of collapsing.  To enable it to perform its essential functions, the Court should be relieved of cases which are manifestly inadmissible or repetitive.  At the Warsaw Summit (May 2005), a Group of Wise Persons was set up to recommend effective measures.  At present, 89 000 cases are pending, although it should be noted that over 90% of cases brought before the Court are declared inadmissible.  Of this total, 24 650 individual communications are awaiting “regularisation” as applications, while 21 900 are chamber cases.

Is this the first attempt to reform the ECHR? A protocol (No. 14) to the Convention designed to give the Court the necessary procedural means for processing all applications within a reasonable time, while enabling it to concentrate on the most important cases, was adopted by all member states.  Unfortunately, however, the protocol still needs to be ratified by one country (Russia) for it to enter into force.  It seeks, in particular, to reduce the time spent by the Court on manifestly inadmissible and repetitive cases.

What action will be taken on the report? Discussions of the Group of Wise Persons’ proposals are under way at European and national levels.  A colloquy in San Marino in March 2007 will give rise to a multilateral debate.  Lastly, the 117th ministerial session in May 2007 will seek to agree the initial outlines of a lasting reform that will enable the system to operate effectively.

THE REPORT’S MAIN PROPOSALS

– Greater flexibility of the procedure for reforming the judicial machinery.  Making it possible for the Committee of Ministers to carry out reforms by way of unanimously adopted resolutions without an amendment to the Convention being necessary each time.

– Establishment of a new judicial filtering mechanism.  This new filtering body, which would be called the Judicial Committee, with the introduction of committees of three judges and the figure of the single judge, would make it possible to ensure, on the one hand, that individual applications result in a judicial decision and, on the other, that the Court is relieved of a large number of cases, enabling it to focus on its essential role.

– Improving the dissemination of the Court’s case-law.  Since the Convention forms part of the national law of the member states, the remedies available at national level must be effective and well known to citizens.  Indeed, they form the first line of defence of the rule of law and human rights.  Initially, it is for national courts to protect human rights within their domestic legal systems and to ensure respect for the rights safeguarded by the Convention.  The Court’s case-law should therefore be more widely disseminated.

– Advisory opinions – forms of co-operation between the Court and national courts.  Domestic courts could in future apply to the Court for advisory opinions on legal questions relating to interpretation of the Convention and the protocols thereto, in order to foster dialogue between courts and enhance the Court’s “constitutional” role.  Requests for an opinion would always be optional and the opinions given by the Court would not be binding.

– Improvement of domestic remedies for redressing violations of the Convention.  The length of proceedings in civil, criminal and administrative cases, which is one of the main sources of litigation before the Court, highlights the need for an improvement here.  The introduction of effective mechanisms at domestic level in all member states would relieve the Court of a considerable number of cases.  Persons seeking justice would no longer need to apply to the Court to obtain redress.  For example, it has been estimated that this category of cases accounted for 25% of all judgments delivered in 2005.

– Promotion of the “pilot judgment” procedure.  With a view to facilitating the most speedy and effective resolution of problems in the relevant national legal order, the Court may designate a case for “pilot-judgment” procedure.  This system prevents it being overloaded with large numbers of repetitive cases.

– Possibility of friendly settlements and encouragement of mediation.  In order to reduce the Court’s workload still further and to assist both victims and member states, the report encourages recourse to mediation at national or Council of Europe level with a view to achieving friendly settlements.

– Extension of the duties of the Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Commissioner could also promote the setting up of bodies with responsibility for resolving human rights violations through mediation at national level.  Under his mandate, the Commissioner facilitates the activities of national ombudsmen and similar institutions.  However, these are not always responsible for human rights matters.

Mikael Storsjö

25.1.2007.

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