The impact of infringement proceedings in the Mammadov/Mammadli group of cases: a missed opportunity

Toby Collis, Lawyer at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC)[1]

Infringement proceedings are a relatively new measure designed to deal with a state’s failure to implement a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, the Court). Introduced by Protocol No. 14 in 2010, and contained in Article 46(4) of the Convention, the measure is triggered only after serving formal notice on the state concerned, and (which more difficult to achieve) securing a two-thirds majority of votes of the Committee of Ministers (CM). After this, the case is referred to the Court to determine whether the state has, in fact, failed to abide by the judgment. If such a failure is found, leading to a violation of Article 46(1) of the Convention, the case is then returned to the CM to consider any further measures that need to be taken. The CM cannot issue fines, but further measures could include adopting ‘strongly worded’ resolutions or decisions, convening meetings, and (in theory but not in practice) the state’s suspension or expulsion from the Council of Europe.

The infringement procedure was viewed by commentators as unlikely to ever be used. Then, along came the case of Azerbaijani opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov, who was imprisoned in circumstances the Court found had been designed to silence or punish him, and who remained imprisoned despite the CM repeatedly calling for his release. Perhaps because of this outrageousness, and perhaps because the stars aligned making it politically possible to gain the required number of votes in the CM, this case was the first and so far only example of infringement proceedings to be launched.

Now that a number of years have passed since these infringement proceedings were initiated, the purpose of this blog is to assess their impact–both on the situation of Ilgar Mammadov, and on that of several Azerbaijani politicians, human rights defenders and civil society activists who, like Mammadov, won a case in Strasbourg and are waiting for their judgments to be fully implemented. In cases such as these, where a number of judgments raise common issues, the CM will group them together and examine them jointly. The CM has therefore been supervising the execution of all these cases under the Mammadov (now Mammadli) group. We will see that the narrow terms of the infringement procedure—relating only to Mammadov and not the other applicants in the group, and not applying to general measures—led to a missed opportunity to generate meaningful impact.

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The Köksal case before the Strasbourg Court: a pattern of violations or a mere aberration?

By Emre Turkut, PhD researcher at Ghent University

The European Court of Human Rights’ recent decision in the case of Köksal v. Turkey has sparked once again a fierce debate concerning the so-called availability of domestic remedies in Turkey in the aftermath of the 15 July 2016 attempted coup. The case concerns a teacher’s dismissal by emergency Decree No. 672, along with 50,875 other public servants who were regarded as having membership of or an affiliation, link or connection with terrorist organizations or structures, formations or groups determined by the National Security Council to engage in activities against the national security of the Turkish State. Continue reading

Judges at odds over Court’s authority to order remedies

By Dr Alice Donald, Senior Lecturer and Anne-Katrin Speck, Research Associate  School of Law, Middlesex University, London

How far can – and should – the European Court of Human Rights recommend, or even compel, states to take certain measures after the finding of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights? This question is increasingly debated as the Court, driven by states’ failure to implement judgments, has moved away from its formerly strictly limited, declaratory approach to remedial measures by sometimes indicating specific non-monetary individual measures or general measures.

This debate has come into sharp focus with the judgment in Moreira Ferreira (No. 2) v. Portugal, issued by the Grand Chamber on 11 July 2017, Continue reading