Amnesty International Concerned about Reforms of the European Court of Human Rights
Thursday, May 13, 2004 11:40 AM

Amnesty International has expressed its concern over Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which was opened for signature during the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers' session of 12-13 May, 2004. Foreign Ministers and representatives of seventeen member states signed the protocol on 13 May.  These states include Armenia, Croatia, Estonia, Denmark, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

Protocol 14 sets new admissibility criteria for cases regarding human rights violations. While Amnesty International endorsed the widely-held view that the European Court of Human Rights must reform in order to address its significant increase in applications, it argued in a press release that “the new admissibility criteria proposed is vague, could lead to arbitrary decisions, and could be applied differently in respect of different states and by different Chambers of the Court.” Amnesty International stated that the proposed criteria does not adequately address the Court’s main challenges; namely, to efficiently screen applications and expeditiously render judgments. It also disapproved the Protocol’s provision to include a representative judge from a state contesting the application of the expedited procedure, citing concerns of bias.

Meanwhile, in its May 11 press release, AI approved of the following components of the reforms: 

  • better implementation of the European Convention at national level which, if implemented, would lead to fewer violations and the creation or improvement of redress mechanisms in member states;
  • the expeditious and effective filtering of applications and rendering of judgments on the merits;
  • the strengthening of monitoring of the implementation of the Court's judgments by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers.

"Amnesty International also welcomes the proposal to create an expedited procedure to handle 'manifestly well-founded' cases, concerning violations of the European Convention about which the Court's case-law is clear."

Cited from the AI Press Release, AI Index: IOR 30/013/2004 (Public) News Service No: 120, 11 May 2004.

For more information concerning the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, please see a Council of Europe summary here