Human Rights Committee of the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe

Position paper concerning the current debate on the reform of the European Court of
Human Rights

Adopted on January 2012

In order to maintain the outstanding mechanism of protection of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights which is ensuring the effective compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and is accessible to all persons under jurisdiction of one of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe

The Human Rights Committee of the INGO Conference,

In reaction and with a view to the work carried out within the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) and the Committee of Experts on the Reform of the Court (DH-GDR) and on the occasion of the Ministerial Conference in April 2012 dealing with the reform of the Court;

Recognizing that, following the principle of subsidiarity, the primary responsibility for the implementation of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights lies with the States, and it is for the Court to ensure the respect of the States’ obligations;

Adopts the following guidelines:

Is in favour of the principle of establishing a mechanism empowering the Court to give advisory opinions;

Strongly opposes, as it had already done in its recommendation of 27 January 2011, the proposal to impose costs on the applicants to the Court;

Refuses the proposal requiring compulsory legal representation from the beginning of the procedure, even if it would be decided to grant legal aid to persons who do not have sufficient income;

Objects to the proposal to apply sanctions in futile or abusive cases because it would discriminate the economically weak and could deter would-be applicants actually victims of a violation;

Considers that the proposal to introduce a new admissibility criterion declaring inadmissible cases that are substantially the same as a matter which has already been considered by the national jurisdiction applying the Convention would be an unacceptable restriction of the right to individual petition to the Court;

Strongly opposes the proposal that an application would be automatically struck out of the Court‘s list of cases after a certain period of time, unless during that period the Court has invited the State concerned to submit observations
and considers it to be arbitrary and incompatible with the very foundations of any jurisdiction and undermining the right to individual petition as well as the authority of the Court;

And calls on the INGO Conference to

- Bring these guidelines to the attention of the relevant bodies, particularly the Committee of Ministers;
- Follow closely the developments in relation to the reform of the Court;
- Prepare, if necessary, a recommendation for discussion and adoption by the INGO Conference at its 2012 summer session or by the Standing Committee if needed before.