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Human Rights Court sounds 'heart attack' warning

brussels bureau

Human Rights Court sounds 'heart attack' warning


Warning of an institutional heart attack, failing urgent reforms… Senior officials at the European Court of Human Rights, linked with the 46-nation Council of Europe, reporting an eleven percent rise in receivable complaints last year, have spoken of their deep concern over Russia’s blocking of measures designed to deal with cases faster.

The court also published a list of the countries called into question. Eight states, with Turkey the top offender, accounted for seventy percent of the violations in 2006. A significant boost in the number of rulings – forty percent year-on-year – was attributed to recently enhanced efficiency.

And yet the court’s new president, Jean-Paul Costa, again sounded the alarm. He said: “In my childhood, well, medicine has since progressed… but there was a proverb that went like this: ‘When a layer of fat builds up around the heart, there is a risk of the organ’s failure.’ We are in exactly this situation. I would not like the court, in the years that lie ahead of me, when I preside over it, to have a sort of heart attack because of an excessive build-up.”

The Russian lower parliament in December refused to ratify the European Human Rights Convention Protocol 14, aimed at speeding up the court. The head of the Russian delegation at the Council, Konstantin Kosachev, said: “For many people in Russia, including members of the parliament, there is an impression that the court in some cases is being used politically, and some decisions are not legally motivated but political.”

Some 90,000 complaints of human rights violations are still pending – half of them against Russia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, although Costa said there had been notable improvements in the performance of Turkey.

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