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Call for ‘firmer measures’ against States ignoring Strasbourg Court judgments

PACE has deplored “the lack of political will” of certain States to fully and rapidly implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, and has urged the Council of Europe’s ministerial body – which oversees implementation – to “take firmer measures” with States that do not comply.

In a recommendation based on a report by Klaas de Vries (Netherlands, SOC), the Assembly urged the ministers to make use of a new “infringement procedure”, introduced in 2010, which allows the Court to rule on whether a State has breached its obligation to abide by the Convention.

Dean Spielmann, President of the European Court of Human Rights, who addressed the Assembly as part of the debate, also urged use of the infringement procedure. “This tool has remained untried,” he pointed out, regretting that ministers had not yet made use of it.

The President of the Court also emphasised the important role of national parliaments in upholding the European Convention, either through committees ensuring that new laws are in line with it, or in changing laws following adverse rulings by the Court.

In a resolution, PACE also expressed “deep concern” at the high number of Court judgments that have still not been implemented by the States concerned – a figure that it says remains stable at nearly 11,000 cases.

Almost 80 per cent of the backlog came from only nine countries – Italy, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Greece, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria – where deep-seated structural problems were often generating repeat cases, PACE said.

These included poor prison conditions, domestic court cases taking too long, or a culture within security forces that permits ill-treatment.