States Must Assume Their Fair Share Of Responsibility

The British Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers will be holding a High Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights in Brighton, United Kingdom (18-20 April 2012). The Declaration to be adopted in Brighton will lay the ground for a number of reforms, including amendments to the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). These reforms could seriously undermine the authority and integrity of the Court and its ability to ensure the effective protection of human rights in Europe. In particular, the damaging proposals would introduce additional admissibility requirements in the Convention and codify the principles of subsidiarity and margin of appreciation in the treaty. To insert these principles in the text of the Convention, and to define their nature and content, risk undermining the interpretative role of the European Court of Human Rights.

Member states of the the Council of Europe are called upon by a joint statement, signed by many European NGOs and citizens, to stand up for the procedural rules in order to ensure and strengthen the effective protection of human rights. As the signatories of the joint statement, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee consider that civil society’s legitimate interests in ensuring the long-term effectiveness of the Court needs to be given proper consideration in the context of the ongoing negotiations by the Hungarian Government. Reforms of the Convention system aimed at strengthening the Court must not end up undermining its integrity and authority, notably by curtailing its jurisdiction or limiting its interpretative role. The European Court of Human Rights is at the heart of the system for the protection of human rights in Europe. It must remain a strong Court, accessible to individuals who are victims of violations of their Convention-protected rights and who have had no effective redress at the national level.

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