EIN’s latest training on Rule 9 submissions

EIN and DEJ train young lawyers from Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine on ECtHR judgment implementation

Can you get a good grasp of how NGOs can promote the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, ‘the Court’) in just two hours? Feedback from EIN’s latest capacity-building event suggests that you can!

Photo: EIN

Photo: EIN

The European Implementation Network (EIN) had the pleasure of welcoming young lawyers from Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine on 9 July, and introduce them to the process of implementation, or ‘execution’, of ECtHR judgments. The participants had been brought to Strasbourg by EIN’s member organisation, the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), as part of EHRAC’s annual Legal Skills Development Programme (LSDP). Aside from learning about implementation, their programme saw the participants meet with Judges from the Court, Registry lawyers and staff of the Department for the Execution of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (DEJ) to talk about the cases that they are litigating or that they already won in Strasbourg. For the first time, the LSDP also comprised a session dedicated specifically to the Committee of Ministers’ (CM) judgment execution process and ways for NGOs to get involved in it – through Rule 9 submissions and domestic advocacy.

During the two-hour training, the participants heard presentations from Clare Brown, Head of Section within the DEJ, and Anne-Katrin Speck, EIN Co-Director. They were introduced to the key elements of the CM’s supervision of the execution of judgments:

·        The role of the CM and of the DEJ

·        Individual measures v. general measures

·        The grouping of cases into leading and repetitive cases

·        Action Plans v. Action Reports

·        Classification of cases: enhanced v. standard supervision     

·        Timetable and when best to submit your Rule 9

Source: Council of Europe website

Source: Council of Europe website

Anne and Clare both stressed the value of NGO submissions to the CM. They are an important means to ‘set the record straight’ where government submissions are inadequate or misleading. They can provide up-to-date information from the ground that the DEJ, with its limited capacity to conduct its own fact-finding and research, might not otherwise be aware of. And it can help trigger a response from the authorities where they might not otherwise have addressed specific issues.

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 Anne and Clare also shared important tips for ensuring maximum possible impact of submissions to the CM. These are to do with the structure and length of submissions, timing, the types of evidence to be submitted, how best to respond to a government Action Plan or Action Report, and the inclusion of procedural recommendations. They also highlighted the importance of combining Strasbourg and domestic level advocacy, starting early to develop general measures of implementation and, where possible, reaching out to the authorities with a view to influencing the design of the remedies.

Photo: EIN

Photo: EIN

The introductory training confirmed once more that implementation of ECtHR judgments and its supervision by the CM is a complex process, but understanding it is not rocket science. If you, too, want to know how you can promote information by submitting information from the ground to the CM, consult EIN’s Handbook for NGOs, injured parties and their legal advisers, or get in touch with us directly.

 EIN is grateful to Jessica Gavron, Kate Levine and Andrii Gladun from EHRAC for reaching out to EIN and making this training possible. Many thanks as well to Clare Brown from the DEJ, whose insider’s view helped the participants understand the intricacies of the implementation process, and how they can best influence the trajectory of a case before the Committee of Ministers.

Current issues and common challenges for the protection of human rights in Europe, Africa and the Americas

EIN Co-Director Anne-Katrin Speck and EIN Vice Chair, Professor Philip Leach (Middlesex University London, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre), participated in a Conference entitled ‘Current issues and common challenges for the protection of human rights in Europe, Africa and the Americas’, which took place at Travers Smith in London on 14 June 2019. The Conference, which was co-organised by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex, the Human Rights Implementation Centre at Bristol University, and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford, brought together leading figures from the three regional systems as well as international academics and practitioners.

Challenges relating to the implementation of the judgments and decision of the commissions and courts from the three regional human rights system was a thread that ran through the day-long discussions. The Conference provided a welcome opportunity for comparative review and dialogue, which revealed that implementation challenges stemmed, in part, from the supranational systems’ limited capacity to discern and assess steps towards (or steps going against) compliance with a ruling. In Europe, for instance, a team of only 39 lawyers within the Department for the Execution of Judgments deal with some 5,500 cases pending execution (Donald, Long and Speck, forthcoming). This precludes nearly any possibility for the DEJ to conduct its own in situ fact-finding, and highlights the importance of civil society actors stepping up and bringing shortcomings in the implementation process to the Committee of Ministers’ attention. 

The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was at the heart of a presentation by EIN Co-Director Anne-Katrin Speck, who set out the key principles for effective advocacy for ECtHR judgment implementation. In an ideal-type scenario, she ventured, NGO involvement aimed at effective ECtHR judgment implementation

·        starts early (specifically, already at the litigation stage);

·        comes in the form of repeated engagement;

·        is built on coalitions between NGOs and other pro-implementation actors (who could be other NGOs, media actors, NHRIs, conscientious parliamentarians or state officials); and

·        is conducted domestically and through the Strasbourg system.

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Anne demonstrated that, regrettably, reality does not match this ambition. Domestic advocacy for judgment implementation would still appear to be in its infancy in most places. This has led EIN to launch an open call for contributions aimed at collecting best practices that will feed into a new EIN resource on domestic advocacy. She also emphasised the need to reverse the downwards trend in the number of so-called ‘Rule 9’ submissions to the Committee of Ministers, which NGOs and national human rights institutions can use to ‘put the record straight’, refute inaccurate claims by governments that implementation had been successful, and call for heightened scrutiny by the Committee of Ministers.

Anne’s presentation concluded with a call for concerted efforts to facilitate civil society involvement in implementation. She urged NGOs to start identifying priority areas for engagement, by mapping the pending leading cases against their country and matching them with the thematic areas they are already working on. NGOs should moreover mobilise other civil society actors to form ‘implementation advocacy coalitions’, and seek out conscientious actors within state authorities to get them to support the cause.

Lastly, it was incumbent of the Council of Europe to undertake a series of measures to make the implementation process truly inclusive, including the following:

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EIN would like to thank the co-conveners, Anthony Wenton, Dr Annelen Micus, Professor Clara Sandoval-Villalbe and Professor Rachel Murray, for the opportunity to inject a civil society perspective into that day’s debates.

 

 

Open call for contributions: Send us your input!

EIN Handbook about domestic advocacy for implementation of ECtHR judgments: Open call for information, input and views

 

Context and purpose

The European Implementation Network (EIN) is holding an open call for information, input and views on the issue of domestic advocacy aimed at promoting the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

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This process follows on from EIN’s first General Assembly, held in Strasbourg in December 2018, at which there was wide agreement that NGOs should not only reinforce their efforts to engage in the supervision of the execution of the Court’s judgments by sending written submissions to the Committee of Ministers (CM) in accordance with Rule 9 of the Rules of the CM, but that they should also do more to push domestically for the full and effective implementation of ECtHR judgments.

Against this backdrop, the EIN Secretariat decided to provide guidance on strategies and tools for effective domestic advocacy for ECtHR judgment implementation.  The aim of this call for information, insights and views is to identify and examine what practice exists in this respect across Europe, with a view to assessing what strategies and tools have worked, and how domestic advocacy can be further strengthened.    

The information received through this process will be compiled and analysed by the EIN Secretariat, and form the backbone of a Toolkit or Handbook for domestic advocacy for ECtHR judgment implementation, to be produced by the end of 2019.

Procedure

This process is intended to be open and inclusive. Strategic use of ECtHR judgments to push domestically for reforms is an advocacy strategy that is still in its infancy, and a concerted effort is needed to shed light on existing good practice. The process is therefore open to NGOs, NHRIs and other civil society organisations, as well as interested individuals, who have worked on ECtHR judgment implementation. EIN members and partners are asked to not only provide answers themselves, but also to distribute this call more widely – by email, through their newsletters and on social media – to relevant organisations and people who might have interesting insights to share. Please send this email on to your respective members and partners, with a copy to director@einnetwork.org and contact@einnetwork.org, and re-tween EIN’s tweet.  

A few formalities

Contributions must be submitted in English and should be presented in Word format, in a single document with the attached form, and submitted by email to director@einnetwork.org, Cc: contact@einnetwork.org. The submissions will not be made public, or shared with anyone outside the EIN Secretariat. New deadline for submitting contributions: Friday 12th July.

We look forward to receiving your replies!