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'Increasing legal and political difficulties’ with implementing judgments of the Strasbourg Court, warns committee

PACE’s Legal Affairs Committee has expressed its concern at the “increasing legal and political difficulties” surrounding the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights - and again urged States Parties to the Convention to implement the Court’s binding judgments.

Approving a report by Constantinos Efstathiou (Cyprus, SOC) today during a meeting by tele-conference, the committee once again condemned delays in implementing judgments, adding: “The legal obligation for the States Parties to the Convention to implement the Court’s judgments is binding on all branches of State authority and cannot be avoided through the invocation of technical problems or obstacles which are due, in particular, to the lack of political will, lack of resources or changes in national legislation, including the Constitution.”

States Parties implementing judgments delivered in inter-States cases, or showing inter-State features, should "not hinder this process" and should fully co-operate with the Committee of Ministers, the committee added.

The committee welcomed “a constant reduction” in the number of cases of the European Court of Human Rights pending for execution, pointing out that the Interlaken reform process begun in 2010 had helped to reduce the number of cases pending before the Committee of Ministers from over 10,000 at that time to a little over 5,000 at the end of 2019. However, it also expressed its deep concern over the number of cases revealing structural problems.

It recommended the use of the special procedure provided for in Article 46 of the Convention in the event of “strong resistance” from a respondent State to implementing a ruling, but added this should be done sparingly and in very exceptional circumstances.

The committee once again urged national parliaments to establish structures to monitor compliance with international human rights obligations.