Monday, February 22, 2010
On Friday, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe issued the Interlaken Declaration calling for reforms to the European Court of Human Rights to deal with the increasing case load of the Court. Currently, the Court has a backlog of approximately 120,000 cases. It is believed that most of these cases (perhaps as many as 90%) are inadmissible or lack a legal basis. However, new, more efficient procedures are needed to screen out those cases that are inadmissible, while allowing meritorious cases to go forward. The Declaration calls on the involved parties to develop such procedures for screening cases by 2011.
The Declaration also recognizes that the phenomenon may result from member states not complying with their obligation to prevent human rights violations in their own countries, or adequately addressing those violations when they occur, causing more and more persons to resort to filing petitions with the European Court of Human Rights.
The Declaration both reaffirms the member states' commitment to the individual petition process, and reiterates the obligation of member states to ensure respect for human rights at the national level. It calls on the Committee of Ministers to find more effective and transparent ways to monitor the execution of the Court's judgments. In addition, the Declaration suggests the parties consider implementing a simplified procedure for amending the Convention with respect to organizational matters.