European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

European Court of Human RightsThe European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959 by the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court rules on individual or state applications. These applications allege violations of the civil and political rights outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. Besides providing judgments on cases of individuals, groups of individuals or states, the Court also provides advisory opinions.

History

The European Court of Human Rights was established on the basis of Article 19 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the 21st of January 1959. The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty signed in 1950. Under this treaty the 47 Council of Europe member states promise to secure civil and political rights to their own citizens as well as everyone within their jurisdiction. The Convention states that the mandate of the Court is to ensure that the European Convention is enforced and implemented by the member states of the Council of Europe. To date, the Court has been recognized by all the 47 member states. The Court is located in Strasbourg, France. It is located in the Human Rights Building designed by British architect Lord Richard Rogers in 1994. From here, the Court monitors respect for the human rights of over 800 million Europeans of the 47 Council of Europe member States that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 led to a big increase in applications filed in the Court. And it caused the efficiency of the Court to be challenged. In 1999, 8,400 applications were filed. This continued to increase to over 65,000 pending applications in 2003. In 2005, over 45,000 cases were opened. And by 2009 the Court had allocated over 57,200. The majority of cases were declared to be inadmissible and 60% of the decisions by the Court were considered to be repetitive cases. This meant that the Court had already delivered judgments to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, or case law exists on a similar case. In 1998, the Court adopted Protocol No.11. This Protocol ensured that the Court became a full-time institution. This meant that the Court thereby deal with the backlog of pending cases. The procedures were simplified and the length of proceedings was reduced. However, the workload of the European Court of Human Rights continued to increase. It was for this reason that the member states agreed to adopt Protocol 14. Protocol 14 aimed to reduce the workload of the Court and that of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In this way the Court could dedicate its full attention to cases of human rights violations.

Jurisdiction

The Court has the jurisdiction to decide on complaints submitted by individuals and states concerning violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. The person, group or non-governmental organization submitting the complaint does not necessarily have to be a citizen of a state party. However, the complaints submitted must concern violations of the Convention allegedly committed by a state party to the Convention.

 

The majority of cases heard by the Court are applications made by individuals. Applications by individuals against contracting states implies that a person, non-governmental organization or group of individuals alleges that the state violates their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. An application needs to be submitted in writing and signed by the applicant or its representative. Once the application has been registered by the European Court of Human Rights, the case is referred to a judge rapporteur. The judge rapporteur is the one who makes the final decision regarding the admissibility of the case. A case may be inadmissible when, for example, domestic remedies have not been exhausted. Or when the Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the particular matter. Once the judge rapporteur has approved the admissibility of the case, the case is referred to a Chamber of the Court. This Chamber forwards the case to the government against which the case is filed. The government is then asked to present its observations regarding the particular case. Consequently, the Chamber of Court then deliberates and judges the case based on its admissibility and merit.

Procedure

After the case has been admitted by the Court, it is examined by hearing representatives from both parties. If deemed necessary, the Court may undertake an investigation regarding the facts raised in the application. Contracting states are expected to provide the Court with all necessary assistance during this process. The European Convention on Human Rights states that all hearings should be public. If there are exceptional circumstances, the Court could justify a hearing to be held in private. Judgments made by the Chamber of the Court become final three months after an application has been issued. Nevertheless, when a case has been referred to the Grand Chamber for review or appeal, a final judgment is postponed. Unless the Grand Chamber rejects the request for referral, the Chamber of the Court makes a final judgment. The judgments are binding on the countries concerned. This has led to governments altering their legislation and administrative practices in various areas.

Relationship with other courts

The European Court of Human Rights should not be confused with the International Court of Justice or the Court of Justice of the European Union. The International Court of Justice is the judicial organ of the United Nations. This Court is based in The Hague. This court was created to settle legal disputes submitted by United Nations member states in accordance with international law. The Court of Justice of the European Union is based in Luxembourg. This Court ensures compliance with EU law and rules regarding the application of the treaties establishing the European Union. Thus, the European Court of Human Rights is not related to Court of Justice of the European Union. States of the of the European Union are also members of the Council of Europe. They have also signed the Convention on Human Rights and has caused concerns regarding the consistency in case law between the two courts.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 868x
Added: 11-02-2016 18:17
Last modified: 20-02-2016 13:55

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