Russia ratifies Protocol 14

Chairwoman Hautala welcomes Duma’s approval to ratify Protocol 14 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights [:]and Fundamental Freedoms as groundbreaking progress in protection of human rights in Europe.

This significant decision enables the long awaited, all-important reform of the European Court for Human Rights as the protocol will ease the process of evaluating complaints and thereby work to decrease the increasing backlog of complaints at the Court. Without the Protocol 14 coming into force it would have been impossible for the Court to effectively function over time.The new protocol will expedite and streamline the work of the Court. Instead of three judges, Protocol 14 allows a single judge to make a decision on obviously inadmissible complaints, and for the admissible complaints there will be a collection of three judges ruling instead of seven. The development is most welcome as this will enable the Court to concentrate on cases involving serious human rights violations instead of looking into manifestly insignificant appeals.

One can not discuss improving the effectiveness of the Court without noting the deficient execution of the judgments on behalf of the member states, most notably the Russian Federation, whose authorities systematically implement most of the decisions of the Court in a deficient manner. Therefore the additional powers to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to oversee the implementation of decisions by the European Court will certainly support in efforts to resolve this problem. Moreover, Protocol 14 allows the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to bring states before the Court in case of failure to implement the judgments.

It is most eagerly hoped that this aspect of the reform would encourage Russia to implement fully judgments on abuses in Chechnya as more than 115 such rulings have held Russia responsible for enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture in Chechnya.

While the development is most welcome concern remains over doubt that Protocol 14 was ratified with some conditions in relation to cases concerning Russia. If this information proves to be true, I call on the Russian authorities to reveal these conditions and inform the public on how this would effect the new monitoring powers granted to the Committee of Ministers.