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Thematic debates

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The Brussels Declaration of 27 March 2015, endorsed at the Ministerial Session on 19 May 2015, encouraged the Committee of Ministers to:

g) consider thematic discussions on major issues relating to the execution of a number of judgments, so as to foster an exchange of good practices between States Parties facing similar difficulties.

More information: Thematic debates (GR-H(2017)8-final)

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Thematic debate on effective investigations

The obligation to investigate deaths and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials
Strasbourg 12/03/2019
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Thematic debate on effective investigations

In the Brussels Declaration, the Committee of Ministers was encouraged to hold, in connection with its supervision of the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,  thematic debates to further foster the exchange of good practices among states facing similar difficulties in order to facilitate execution[1]. In response, the Committee decided to hold a first debate on the theme of conditions of detention. The debate, which was held in March 2018, allowed extensive exchanges among the participants and was welcomed shortly thereafter by the Copenhagen Declaration adopted in May 2018.

On 12 March 2019 the Committee of Ministers held its second thematic debate, this time on states’ obligation to investigate deaths and ill-treatment caused by actions of law enforcement officials. This theme was, just as that of the first debate, a major one before the Committee, revealed by numerous judgments of the European Court and concerning a great number of countries. Issues related thereto accounted in in 2017 and 2018 for 17% of all leading cases under the Committee’s enhanced supervision procedure.

The 2019 debate consisted of three sessions covering the following major issues:

  • Addressing the shortcomings revealed by the Court’s judgments (independence of investigations; speedy intervention of independent investigators; links between promptness and prescription; securing evidence; investigating special motives of crimes). Keynote speakers were: Mr Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of CPT, Ms Jana Zezulová, Public Prosecutor, Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, Czech Republic, and Mr. Hendrik-Jan Talsma, Senior Public Prosecutor, Netherlands Public Prosecution Service.
  • Independent oversight of investigations (oversight role of independent bodies; independent complaints mechanisms). The keynote speaker was Ms Nino Bakakuri, Judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
  • Reparation for victims (financial compensation covering pecuniary and nonpecuniary damage; formal apology issued by the authorities; action to establish the direct victims’ fate and establish the truth). The keynote speaker was Mr Emmanuel Decaux, Member of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

The participation of numerous national experts enriched the debate, as did the participation of notably representatives of the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights.


[1] Cf also the proposals made by the Committee of Ministers’ rapporteur group on human rights in 2013 and presented in the Annual Report of that year.

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