Ministers’ Deputies

CM Documents

CM(2012)39       17 February 20121



1135 Meeting, 22 February 2012

4 Human Rights

4.4 Reform of the system of the European Convention on Human Rights

b. Review of the work conducted by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

- Abridged report of the 74th meeting (Strasbourg, 7-10 February 2012)



BRIEF FOREWORD

1. The Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) held its 74th meeting in Strasbourg from 7 to 10 February 2012. The agenda appears at Appendix 1.

2. The CDDH invited the Committee of Ministers:

a. to take note of its current work on the reform of the Court, including the adoption by the CDDH of the following documents:

(a) final report on measures requiring amendment of the Convention (document CM(2012)39 add1), accompanied, for the record, by the final report on measures not requiring amendment of the Convention (document CM(2010)161);
(b) contribution to the Ministerial Conference organised by the United Kingdom Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers (document CM(2012)39 add2);

b. to adopt the draft Guidelines on the selection of candidates for the post of judge at the European Court of Human Rights (document CM(2012)40 (to be issued)) and to take note of the accompanying explanatory memorandum (document CM(2012)40 add (to be issued));2

c. to take note of its exchange of views with the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas BRATZA (Appendix 2);

d. to take note of the rules of designation of the members of the Gender Equality Commission (GEC) and, on this basis, of the results of the election of the 16 members that will participate in its work at the expense of the Council of Europe (Appendix 3);

e. to take note of the designation of the 12 members that will participate in the work of the drafting group on the rights of elderly persons (CDDH-AGE) at the expense of the Council of Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; and of the election of Mr Jakub WOLASIEWICZ (Poland) as Chairperson of the Group;

f. to take note of the calendar of its meetings and of those of its subordinate bodies in 2012 (Appendix 4).

g. to take note of the meeting report as a whole.

Appendix 1

Agenda

1. Opening of the meeting, adoption of the agenda and order of business

2. Recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly

3. Exchange of views with personalities

3.1 Exchange of views with the President of the European Court of Human Rights
3.2 Personalities to be invited

4. Work conducted by the Committee of experts on the Reform of the Court (DH-GDR)

    4.1 Draft CDDH Final Report on measures requiring amendment of the Convention

    4.2 Draft CDDH Contribution to the Ministerial Conference organised by the United Kingdom Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers

5. Draft non-binding instrument concerning the selection of candidates for the post of judge at the European Court of Human Rights

6. Development and promotion of human rights

7. Bioethics

8. Gender Equality

9. CDDH contribution to the 31st Conference of Council of Europe Ministers of Justice (Vienna, 20-21 September 2012)

10. Designation of experts for subordinate bodies

11. Other business

Appendix 2

Initial speech of the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas BRATZA

“Chairman,

Members of the Steering Committee,

Thank you for your inviting me to meet with you today.

I need hardly say that these are crucial times for the European Convention on Human Rights, and for the Court. Within just over two months the reform process will move into a new phase, with key decisions being taken at the high-level conference in Brighton.

You have been working this week on your contribution to the conference, and the Court is doing likewise. I will say something about that in a moment.

You are also bringing the first phase of the reform to a close, as you finalise your report to the Committee of Ministers following up on Interlaken and Izmir, setting out possible reforms to the Convention.

The Court has followed all of this work closely, and has been closely involved in the process.

Let me say a word of special thanks to you, Chairman, and your colleagues in Strasbourg and London for the close contacts you have maintained with myself and the Registrar over the past few months.

May I also reiterate what I said during the annual press conference two weeks ago about the alleged conflict between the Court and the United Kingdom Government which the Press are so keen to exploit. I pointed out then that there was a great deal said by the Prime Minister during his speech to the Parliamentary Assembly with which we agreed. In particular, we agreed that the Court should not act as a Court of “fourth instance”, that it should not see itself as an immigration tribunal or as a small claims court. Our disagreement was with the suggestion that this is in fact how we viewed ourselves or how we behaved as a Court. Where we wholly agreed with the Prime Minister was in his statement that the Court’s backlog is unacceptably high, being overburdened with inadmissible cases and with repetitive cases with which we should not have to deal. And here we were gratified by his acknowledgement of the impressive steps taken by the Court itself to filter out inadmissible cases. Where we also agreed was in his view that there was still room for improving the efficiency of the Court and for this reason I made clear that we would as a Court give our support to any proposal for reform which would in our view achieve this aim without sacrificing the right of individual petition which had been the hallmark of the Convention system.

The reform process is anything but easy, and demands a shared responsibility, a strong collaborative effort from all involved in it:

    · the States, as the authors of the Convention, and guarantors in the first place of human rights;

    · the Court, as the centrepiece of Europe’s unrivalled human rights system;

    · the Parliamentary Assembly, civil society, national human rights institutions – all of them already actors in the system in their different ways and strong advocates for the Convention, and all of them joining in the reform debates.

This process, initiated at Interlaken, began with a clear-eyed assessment of the situation of the Court, and the consequences of this on its functioning. For a great number of applicants, the experience at Strasbourg was one of excessive delay. That assessment was accompanied by a strong re-affirmation by States of the great value of the Convention, and their firm support for the Court.

The past two years can be described as a phase both exploratory and analytical, where ideas are brought forward to be weighed and tested through discussion, and both the arguments and counter-arguments laid out. Being deliberative, it is not a speedy process – this is reflected in the Interlaken time-frame.

One of the merits of this is that it allows the process to respond and adjust to developments. I refer specifically to the improved functioning of the filtering system last year. It was both encouraging news in its own right, and helpful for the reform discussions, allowing the focus to move on to the bigger issue of the backlog of cases pending at the higher levels of the Court.

The repetitive case phenomenon is nothing new – all that changes are the numbers. Along with these is the challenge posed by applications that are not repetitive and which – under the Court’s prioritisation policy – are but medium priorities. The techniques that have proven to be effective for repetitive cases - such as the pilot-

judgment procedure, simplified judgments and grouped judgments – are not directly transposable. Innovation and development is required, from the Court but also from States.

This brings me to the points that the Court is currently discussing internally as it prepares to make its contribution to the Brighton Conference. The discussions are focusing not merely on the proposals for reform already indicated by the United Kingdom Government but on further possible proposals for reform. It is hoped that the Plenary Court will be able to discuss and adopt at least a provisional paper on 20 February, and it will be forwarded to the Committee of Ministers as soon as can be arranged thereafter.

Pending the Plenary’s considered view on the matter, I will already give an indication of the points under our consideration.

Our Committee on Working Methods undertook an intensive review in late 2011 of the Court’s practice and procedures for dealing with the different types of case before it. Whatever Convention amendments are ultimately enacted, it is clear that we will have to work within the system as it is today for some years yet. Its analysis and proposals were discussed at length by the Court’s Sections last month, in preparation for consideration at the next Plenary.

The ideas before us include wider use of the Well-Established Case Law procedure - the WECL procedure -, which so far has been used essentially to deal with repetitive cases. As you will know, though, a broader, more significant role was clearly envisaged by the drafters of Protocol No. 14. A more extensive approach based on the idea that established case-law in relation to one respondent State could also be relied on in relation to other respondent States would enable far more cases to be dealt with under a summary procedure and would allow the Court’s WECL committees to act more effectively, with the benefit of a “varied” legal diet.

There are other ideas relating to admissibility and filtering. These include:

    · first, a stricter application of the 6-month rule, in particular by requiring the lodging not merely of an informal letter of complaint within the 6-month period permitted but of a fully completed and detailed application form with the essential supporting documents within that period ;

    · second, the generalisation within the Court of the new methods developed by the filtering Section so as to cover all States and not merely those with the highest number of inadmissible complaints. As already foreshadowed, with additional resources, it is hoped by these methods to meet the twin challenges of dealing with all new applications within a short time of their arrival and disposing of all applications now pending before single judges by the year 2015. I will leave it if I may to the Registrar, Erik Fribergh, to add something on the question of the necessary resources.

    · third, possible simpler procedures for communicating cases, both repetitive and “normal” Chamber cases which would entail less processing at the outset by the Registry and the sharing of the administrative burden with the relevant State authorities.

I stress that these are just indications of the points tabled for discussion within the Plenary.

Another issue that the Court will almost certainly stress in its contribution is the vital responsibility of the States themselves to ensure the more effective implementation of the Convention at national level as well as the urgent need to improve the execution of judgments. As I emphasised in my address at the formal Opening of the Legal Year, the only effective solution for a situation in which the Court has over 30,000 repetitive cases on its docket lies with the States themselves and with a stronger and more effective means of execution of the Court’s judgments. It is a constant weakness in the Convention system with the damaging consequences that we all know too well. States need to take a harder look at the matter, and strong measures – possibly going as far as fines or levies being imposed on States in default – should be brought into the discussion. But it is also important that assistance should be provided to enable States to tackle and resolve underlying structural problems where these exist.

The Court will also address the issue of case-law consistency, a point raised by States at both Interlaken and Izmir. You will have seen from the Jurisconsult’s paper on this last year the existing internal means that the Court has to detect and deal with potential contradictions or divergences of case-law. These will be strengthened, with amendments to the relevant Rules of Court and an internal presidential instruction.

Finally, the Court will issue a reflection paper on the subject of advisory opinions. The issue has been analysed and discussed at length and in depth since last summer. The detailed proposal elaborated by the Dutch and Norwegian delegates to this committee was, I should say, very helpful for us. It provided a ready-made structure for our consideration of the issue, and gave us a good insight into the diverse views of the CDDH membership. Since views diverge within the Court as well on this issue, we thought the format of a reflection paper to be the most appropriate. What is clear is that there should be further detailed consideration given to the issue in which the Court is directly involved.”

Appendix 3

Gender Equality Commission (GEC)
Members participating in the work at the expense of the Council of Europe

Method of designation
(as adopted by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) at its 74th meeting (7-10 February 2012))

1. The list of candidates, along with the relevant CVs, would be definitively closed on Tuesday 7 February 2012 at 6 p.m., in order to allow delegations having expressed their interest in participating in the GEC’s work but had not yet been able to send their application to do so.

2. mandates would be for two years. In order, however, to ensure the rotation foreseen in the GEC’s terms of reference:

    (i) the eight members whose mandate would be for three years instead of two would be drawn by lot from amongst the elected members;
    (ii) GEC members would not be eligible for a second consecutive mandate;
    (iii) countries that had had a member participating in the GEC’s work at the Organisation’s expense would not be able to present a new candidate at the immediately following elections.

3. It was not necessary to proceed to designation of alternates.

4. Voting slip would be prepared on which would appear all the candidates presented in English alphabetical order of their respective countries. Voters could vote for a maximum of 16 candidates. The 16 candidates having obtained the highest number of votes would be retained to participate in the work of the GEC at the expense of the Organisation, it being understood that any other member State could send at any point other experts at its own expense. During designation of candidates, each voter would be invited to bear in mind, as general criteria, the need to ensure geographical and gender balance, as well as the qualities of the members in the light of the CVs received;

5. The election would take place on Thursday 9 February 2012, from 10,.15 – 11.15 a.m.

6. It would fall to the GEC to propose the names of its Chairperson and Vice-chairperson, who would subsequently be confirmed by the CDDH.

Results of the vote held at the 74th meeting of the CDDH (7-10 February 2012)
for the designation of the members of the Gender Equality Commission (GEC)

participating in the work at the expense of the Council of Europe

 

END OF TERM
OF OFFICE

REFERENCES

Ms Karine SOUDJIAN (Armenia)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Dr Eva FHERINGER (Austria)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Päivi YLI-PIETILÄ (Finland)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Sophie DEL CORSO (France)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Pauline MOREAU (Ireland)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Mr Michele PALMA (Italy)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Vanda JURSENIENE (Lithuania)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Carlien SCHEELE (the Netherlands)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Mr Inge OVESEN (Norway)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Monika KSIENIEWICZ (Poland)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Isabel ROMÃO (Portugal )

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Mr Andrey NIKIFOROV (Russian Federation)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Violeta NEUBAUER (Slovenia)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Mr Guillaume MONFORT JUAREZ (Spain)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Ms Sylvie DURRER (Switzerland)

31 December 2014

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Mr Sergiy KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine)

31 December 2013

74th meeting (7-10 February 2012)

Appendix 4

Calendar of future meetings of the CDDH and the bodies answerable to it

First Semester 2012

Meeting of the Group on national practices for the selection of candidates for the post of judge at the European Court of Human Rights

 

11-13 January

1st meeting of the Committee of experts on the Reform of the Court (DH-GDR)

 

17-20 January

Opening of the judicial year of the European Court of Human Rights

 

27 January

84th meeting of the Bureau of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH-BU)

 

Paris, 30-31 January

74th meeting of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

 

7-10 February

Ministers’ Deputies

 

22 February

1st meeting of Drafting Group A on the Reform of the Court (GT-GDR-A)

 

14-16 March

Meeting of the Bureau of the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO-BU)

 

22-23 March

1st meeting of the Drafting Group on the rights of the elderly (CDDH-AGE)

 

21-23 March

High-level Conference organised by the UK chairmanship of the CM

 

Brighton, 18-20 April

1st meeting of the Gender Equality Committee (GEC)

 

25-27 April

4th meeting of the Committee of Experts on a simplified amendment procedure (DH-PS)

 

14-16 May

1st meeting of Drafting Group A on the Reform of the Court (GT-GDR-A)

 

30 May -1 June

85th meeting of the Bureau of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH-BU)

 

Paris, 7-8 June

1st meeting of the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO)

 

19-22 June

75th meeting of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

 

19-22 June

Second semester 2012

Seminar on human rights and the environment

 

Białowieża (Poland) [September]

1st meeting of Drafting Group B on the Reform of the Court (GT-GDR-B)

 

12-14 September

Council of Europe Ministers of Justice Conference (Vienna) – “Responses of Justice to Urban Violence”

 

Vienna, 20-21 September

2nd meeting of the Drafting Group on the rights of the elderly (CDDH-AGE)

 

24-26 September

2nd meeting of Drafting Group B on the Reform of the Court (GT-GDR-B)

 

10-12 October

2nd meeting of the Gender Equality Committee (GEC)

 

24-26 October

2nd meeting of the Committee of experts on the Reform of the Court (DH-GDR)

 

29-31 October

86th meeting of the Bureau of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH-BU)

 

15-16 November

2nd meeting of the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO)

 

[November]

76th meeting of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)

 

27-30 November

1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.

2 According to the usual practice, these documents are presently being checked by the Council of Europe’s Editorial Service and by the Directorate of Legal Advice and Public International Law.



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