Non-execution of a pilot judgment: ECtHR passes the buck to the Committee of Ministers in Burmych and others v. Ukraine

By Eline Kindt, PhD researcher Human Rights Centre – Ghent University

The recent Burmych and others v. Ukraine judgment of the ECtHR of 12 October 2017 has thoroughly shifted the institutional balance in the Council of Europe between the Court and the Committee of Ministers. The Court decided to pull itself away from a situation of mass non-execution by Ukraine of both its own national judgments, as well as the Court’s previous pilot judgment of Yuriy Nikolayevich Ivanov v. Ukraine. The Court decided that these cases would be struck out of its list and become the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers, thus leaving thousands of victims without the possibility to bring their case before the Court.   Continue reading

Too little, too late? The ECtHR’s pilot judgment on the Belgian internment policy

Guest post by Els Schipaanboord, LL.M. – PhD Researcher at the Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy, Ghent University

On 6 September 2016, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Belgium once more, after 22 previous convictions, for its internment policy. This safety measure, under the Belgian law referred to as ‘internering’, aims to protect the society against ‘dangerous’ mentally ill offenders who cannot be held accountable for the offence they have committed, due to their illness. This time, however, the verdict granted Belgium the questionable honor of a pilot judgement. Applying the ‘pilot procedure’, the Court classifies Belgium’s internment policy as systematically and structurally dysfunctional and imposes an obligation upon it to address these problems within a limited amount of time. The Court gave Belgium a deadline of two years.

Continue reading

Hirst Strongly Resonates in Greens … and in Latvia

In what some have considered a “blunt ultimatum”, the Court has just given the United Kingdom a six-month deadline to introduce legislative proposals to amend its laws banning prisoners from voting. At the basis of the Court’s decision, is the government’s 5-year failure to execute the Grand Chamber judgment in Hirst (No. 2), the case concerning prisoners’ voting rights.

The lengthy delay to implement the Hirst judgment, the Court said this week in Greens and M.T. v. the United Kingdom, has resulted in around 2,500 new applications currently pending before the Court. The Court has warned that the number continues to grow with each election that passes noting that there are approximately 70,000 serving prisoners in the UK at any one time, all of whom are potential applicants. So at stake is not only the state’s responsibility under the Convention but also – and more fundamentally – the future effectiveness of the system which the Court rightly views as threatened by the UK government’s continuing non-compliance. Continue reading

Back-up plans in pilot-judgments?

The Court has delivered a pilot-judgment last week in the case of Maria Atanasiu and Others v. Romania. In completing the requirements of the pilot-judgment procedure the Court also decided to adjourn consideration of all the applications stemming from the same general problem for eighteen months from the date on which the present judgment becomes final, pending the adoption by the Romanian authorities of measures capable of offering adequate redress to all the persons affected.

As I understand, with the eighteen months limit the Court tries to ensure the access of the applicants to the Court in case the state doesn’t implement the general measures. In that event the Court will restart examining the cases that were adjourned. To my mind, it is nice that the Court is willing to take care of access concerns, but this praxis has some very negative aspects. Continue reading

A flight without passengers – new pilot judgment issued

The Court issued a pilot judgment last week in the case of Rumpf v. Germany. After reading the judgment it seems important to remind ourselves once more about the nature and objective of the pilot judgment procedure (PJP). It is described by Erik Fribergh, Registrar of the Court: “Rather than deal with these cases in the standard, individual way, the object of the procedure, right from the start, is to help create the conditions at national level in which all of these pending and potential claims can be settled. The specific feature of the PJP is that instead of dealing with each individual case, the Court singles out one or a small number of applications for priority treatment and adjourns all other applications until the pilot case has been decided.”[1] Continue reading

Deciding on the pilot judgment procedure

On 6 July 2010 a chamber judgment in the case of Yetis and Onthers v. Turkey has been issued by the Court’s second section finding a violation of Article 1 Protocol No 1. The Court observed that the violation it had found had originated in a systemic problem connected with the absence in Turkish law of a mechanism whereby the national courts could take account of the potential depreciation in the value of compensation awarded for expropriation, as a result of the combined effect of the length of proceedings and inflation. By finding this, the Court had the possibility to start the pilot judgment procedure. Continue reading