Following the request made during the 974th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (27 September 2006), the Secretariat has prepared the initial version of this document for the 983rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (13 December 2006), presenting the action taken by the authorities of the member states with a view to facilitating the execution of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of Ilaşcu and others against Moldova and the Russian Federation. The present version of the document takes in to account the answers or details sent afterwards by certain Delegations.
The information which appears in this document was communicated by the member states following this request, recalled by the Secretary General in a letter sent to all Permanent Representatives of the Council of Europe member states.
It is worth noting that the adoption of action by the authorities of the member states with a view to facilitating the execution of the European Court’s judgment arises from their collective responsibility under the European Convention on Human Rights and the final paragraphs of the fourth Interim Resolution2 adopted by the Committee of Ministers in this case, which read as follows:
“The Committee of Ministers […]
Declares the Committee’s resolve to ensure, with all means available to the Organisation, the compliance by the Russian Federation with its obligations under this judgment;
Calls upon the authorities of the member states to take such action as they deem appropriate to this end.”
Now, all states have replied to the Secretary General’s request. These answers are available to delegations from the Secretariat. It should be noted that:
- the Finnish Presidency of the European Union answered3 on behalf of :
· the twenty-five member states of the European Union4 as well as of Bulgaria and Romania, who have since then become members of the EU;
· the candidate countries (Croatia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Turkey);
· the countries of the stabilisation and association process and potential candidates (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia);
· the members of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (members of the European Economic Area, EEA), as well as Switzerland;
· Monaco, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
A number of these states gave a separate answer, to complement the one given by the Presidency of the European Union.
- one state transmitted information concerning the measures taken by it authorities with a view to facilitating the execution of this judgment, but asked for this information to remain confidential.
Generally speaking, it is noted that the states strongly underlined the unconditional obligation fully to implement the judgments of the European Courts in general and the present judgment in particular.
1. Information provided by the respondent states on the measures taken in order to execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Moldova referred to the various actions undertaken by its authorities, as they appear in information document CM/Inf/DH(2006)17, updated by the Secretariat for each examination of this case by the Committee of Ministers.
The Russian Federation first indicated that a meeting with the “President” of Transdniestria, Mr. Smirnov, took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in Moscow on 18 November 2006. Furthermore, meetings with high-level representatives of the political leadership of Moldova were held in Moscow on 16 November 2006; the Russian Federation’s position during these negotiations was to offer maximal assistance in restoring a climate of trust and reducing tensions between Moldovan authorities and Transdniestrian “authorities”. The delegation added that Moldova positively responded to the expression of readiness by the Russian side to make all necessary efforts to facilitate the resumption of direct contacts between the Moldovan authorities and the Transdniestrian “authorities”.
Thus the Russian Federation was taking energetic efforts aimed at resuming this dialogue, in order to find solutions to the outstanding problems, including the present case. Further, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Moldova had met the Secretary of the Security Council of Moldova, Mr Morei, to facilitate co-operation to fulfil the judgment of the European Court. The Russian Federation has done this in a spirit of good will to facilitate the defusing of the present unfortunate situation. Furthermore, it may be noted that, as for Moldova, the information previously provided by the Russian authorities appears in information document CM/Inf/DH(2006)17, updated by the Secretariat for each examination of this case by the Committee of Ministers.
2. Information provided by the other member states on the measures taken to facilitate the execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
2.1 Measures taken in the framework of the Committee of Ministers meetings
2.1.1. Ministers’ Deputies meetings
The Finnish Presidency of the European Union recalled the following measures, on behalf of the European Union and of the states mentioned in the introduction.
First, through its successive Presidencies, the European Union has made 58 statements, consistently recalling the necessity of fully and urgently executing this judgment as well as all other judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. It also reiterated its great regret that the parties concerned have not secured the immediate release of those applicants still in prison. Furthermore, they have stressed the political, legal and humanitarian importance of the case, as well as the fact that the non-execution of this judgment undermines the credibility of the Council of Europe and that of the Court. They have also stated that this unresolved judgment has cast a shadow on the first Russian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.
Second, the European Union recalled that it has contributed actively in the preparation and adoption of all four interim resolutions adopted by the Committee of Ministers in this case. The Presidency of the European Union itself called for the adoption of the second, third and fourth interim resolutions.
Third, other initiatives were taken by the European Union within the Committee of Ministers. On the proposal of the European Union, a letter from the Chair of the Committee of Ministers was addressed to the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation insisting on the legal and humanitarian aspects of this case. Furthermore, the European Union initiated informal contacts for the parties concerned to work towards a solution in this case. Finally, the European Union asked that the fourth Interim Resolution adopted in this case, ResDH(2006)26, be brought to the attention of the UN and the OSCE.
Several member states of the European Union, 5 as well as Andorra, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Ukraine underlined, in separate letters, the importance of the communication by the Presidency of the European Union. They recalled that they had participated in the adoption of several measures, mentioned above. Among these states, those which are not members of the European Union recalled their support6 to the statements made on behalf of the European Union in the examination of this case by the Committee of Ministers, or their own statements made in line with them. Luxembourg, Romania and the United Kingdom referred to the measures taking during their respective Presidencies. Concerning Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, these measures have been mentioned above. Concerning Romania, these measures are presented in a letter dated 19 December 2006, which has been circulated to all delegations7 ; in particular, it is about contacts taken with several international instances, with a view to searching for a solution in this case.
The authorities of San Marino instanced their contribution with a view to the search of a solution to this case within the Committee of Ministers. In particular, they chaired the debates concerning this case since the beginning of the Russian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in May 2006.
The Swiss authorities also recalled the interventions of their Permanent Representative in this case, in the Committee of Ministers meetings. In particular, he varied his statements in order to bring all the aspects of this case to light.
Finally, the Turkish authorities recalled the importance they attach to the full implementation of the Courts’ judgments, both at home and on a European level. They therefore support calls on all relevant occasions for appropriate action to be taken by the parties concerned for the implementation of the Court’s judgments, including measures to bring about the immediate release of the applicants in this case.
2.1.2. Ministerial Sessions
The Latvian authorities recalled that their Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Artis Pabriks, in his speech at the 116th Ministerial Session (May 2006), raised the question of the execution of this case. Inter alia, he insisted on the fact that there should be no double standards and that every state has to respect and fulfill the European Court’s judgments.
The Luxembourg authorities recalled that the Vice-President of the Government, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also raised the question of the execution of this judgment at the 116th Ministerial Session (May 2006), in the presence of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. He expressly asked the latter to implement the European Court’s judgment.
Finally, the Swiss authorities recalled that the Minister (Conseillère fédérale), Ms Micheline Calmy-Rey, raised the question of the execution of this judgment at the 115th Ministerial Session (November 2005). She insisted in particular on the necessity to fully execute the judgments of the European Court.
2.2 Measures taken in the framework of other initiatives
The Finnish Presidency of the European Union recalled that the successive Presidencies have raised the question of the execution of this judgment in their various contacts with the Russian authorities. Among other things, the question of the execution of this judgment was discussed: in the meeting of the Joint Committee on 29 June 2006; in the EU-Russia Directors’ (COSCE) Troika meeting on 10 March 2005; in the EU-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Troika meeting of 9 November 2005; in the Quadripartite meeting of 3 November 2006; in the Human Rights’ Consultations of 8 November 2006.
Four member states of the European Union indicated that they had taken additional measures, in their own capacity. To be specific:
The Irish authorities have also raised the case bilaterally with the parties concerned.
The British authorities indicated that they urged the Russian Federation to implement its obligations during bilateral discussions in London, Moscow and Strasbourg, in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The United Kingdom has also attended meetings between the European Union Special Representative in Moldova and the regime in Tiraspol at which the issue was raised.
The Dutch authorities adopted following measures: on 12 October 2005, the Director General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands discussed the execution of this judgment with the Vice-Minister of Foreign-Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Grushko, in the Hague. On 3 May 2006, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Netherlands to the Russian Federation discussed the matter with the Head of the Council of Europe department within the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. A. Kurmaz.
The Romanian authorities also mentioned bilateral contacts they had, with a view to the execution of this judgment, both with the Moldavian and the Russian authorities8. In this respect, they referred in particular to contacts between the Romanian and Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Messrs. Ungureanu and Lavrov.
Concerning the states which are not members of the European Union, the following information has been provided:
The Icelandic authorities indicated that, acting upon instructions, Mr. Nikulás Hannigan, Minister Counselor (Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), brought up the deep concern of the Icelandic Government regarding the non-execution of this judgment in a bilateral meeting with Mr. Valery Poliakov, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Iceland, which took place in November 2006. He reiterated that the Russian Federation should take all necessary measures in order to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.
Furthermore, the Swiss authorities indicated that, in due time, they will raise the question of the execution of this judgment in an appropriate form with the Russian authorities.
Finally, the Ukrainian authorities indicated that in February 2006 the Special Envoy of Ukraine on Transdniestrian settlement sent a letter to the political representative of Transdniestria in the negotiation of this settlement, appealing to him to facilitate the solving of the issue of the applicants’ release. Furthermore, the question of securing the applicants’ release was raised many times by representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine in Moldova, during meetings with the representatives of the Transdniestrian “authorities”.