Saturday

17th Feb 2018

UK proposals to weaken European Court of Human Rights

A UK-led initiative to weaken the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) could violate the rights of European citizens, Diogo Pinto, the secretary-general of the Brussels-based NGO, the European Movement International has said.

"A number of UK draft proposals could in practice give the power to the national courts to decide which cases are to be reviewed by the European court, and to the national governments to have greater leeway in applying its judgments. We are worried that this would violate the rights of the individuals across Europe to apply to the court," he told this website on Wednesday (18 April).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Putin (c) visits victims of the Dubrovka theatre tragedy (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Among the UK draft proposals is a change to the court's "margin of appreciation" - a concept that enables it to apply its founding document, the European Convention on Human Rights, differently to each member state, broadening national powers over the court and making it into more of an advisory body. The UK is also keen to tweak the admissibility criterion, making it harder for individuals to bring cases to the court.

Ministers and senior representatives from the Council of Europe (CoE), the Strasbourg-based body which governs the court, will discuss the new ideas at a congress in Brighton, in the UK, on Thursday.

A so-alled Brighton Declaration will on Friday enshrine any new political agreement. But a formal decision on reforms will wait until mid-May, when CoE ministers are to meet again.

The UK, currently chairing the CoE, has claimed that the ECHR is undermining national efforts to change immigration policy, deport terrorists and set rules for prisoners.

Meanwhile, popular newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, have backed the government line, with a series of articles depicting the CoE as an obscure continental club trying to usurp national sovereignty.

The ECHR is the last recourse for victims of human rights abuses who can file complaints only after losing all their appeals at member-state-level.

Abu Qatada re-arrested

In a high profile case involving Islamist cleric Abu Qatada in January, the ECHR ruled against his deportation to Jordan by the UK saying he risks torture if he is sent home.

The UK re-arrested Qatada on Tuesday morning and plans to send him packing, saying it has received assurances from Jordan that he will not be mistreated.

A draft version of the Brighton Declaration dated 12 April reaffirms the rights of individual applicants to the ECHR. But there are concerns some member states want to curb access to the court.

Not all CoE members - which include Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine - respect the rule of law. But on paper all are presumed to implement its convention in good faith.

"This is a weakness that is almost impossible to deal with when the assumption of the convention is that all member states are committed to liberal democracy," Jacob Mchangama, the director of legal affairs at the Danish think-tank Cepos told EUobserver.

"Russia is elephant in the room"

Russia is the target of 37,850 ECHR complaints - some 25 percent of all applications. In 2010 alone, there were 1,079 judgements against it. In 1,019 of the cases, the court found at least one violation of the convention.

These included inhuman and degrading conditions of detainees awaiting trial and negligence by security services, which used a narcotic gas that caused the deaths of over 120 hostages at the Dubrovka theatre in October 2002 in Moscow.

Having lost many prominent cases, Russia attempted to introduce a bill last year that would give the its Constitutional Court "a right to block" the enforcement of the court's judgments, Ireneusz Kaminski, an expert at the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, noted in his blog.

"Russia is the elephant in the room and ... the British chairmanship is doing the work for them," the European Movement International's Pinto said.

His view is backed by Kaminski, who told this website that the position of the UK and the Russian Federation on the ECHR are similar. "The two countries are not happy with the number of cases launched against them," Kaminski explained, describing the UK proposals to limit the court's power as "dangerous."

Human rights chief warns against UK boycott

If the UK boycotts the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg it could start a chain reaction with other members that would "undermine" the body, its political chief has warned.

Greek EU commissioner challenges bribery allegations

Dimitris Avramopoulos says he will mount a legal challenge to reveal the identities of people behind allegations that he, along with other former Greek ministers, had accepted money from a Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  4. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  6. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  8. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades
  10. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  12. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%