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New HUDOC-EXEC Database on Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: The EIN Test Drive

A screenshot of the HUDOC EXEC database front page 

A screenshot of the HUDOC EXEC database front page 

The database on the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been of long-standing concern for advocates of the implementation of judgments.  The old database required perseverance, experience and no little wisdom. Whilst most information was available, it was not always discoverable. Human rights civil society has long advocated for changes in the database and its integration into the HUDOC system. We therefore welcome the news that the Committee of Ministers has launched the HUDOC-EXEC database.

What are the improvements brought by HUDOC-EXEC and how may they be improved further?  Ramute Remezaite (EIN), Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska (EIN Secretary, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and myself conducted a test drive to share with the EIN community.  Here is our verdict:

Positives

•      The new database is much more user friendly.

•      It’s a one-stop-shop that provides all relevant information about a single case in one place. This allows easy and systematic access to submissions of all relevant parties (member states, ‘Rule 9’ submissions from NGOs and NHRIs) and decisions of the Committee of Ministers. This is a very positive improvement.

•      The search engine, similar in style and mode of operation to the HUDOC database of ECtHR judgments, allows searches focusing on countries, articles of the Conventions and human rights violation themes. It has now become much easier to assess thematic shortcomings in implementation across countries as well as which issues suffer from slow implementation in a single state.

•      It is now much easier to find systematised information on closed cases. With the previous database this was very difficult, so this is a great improvement.

Needs further improvement

•      Full information seems to be missing for some of the cases we searched on.  We hope that this is due to the work in progress nature of the database. 

•      The new database uses labels of lead and repetitive cases.  But we are unable to access full information on individual repetitive cases when clicking on them. We hope it is only a matter of time before these appear on the database.

•      It is not possible to search for pilot judgments. As monitoring the effective execution of pilot judgments is of utmost importance, it should be possible to generate searches on pilot judgments with respect to all countries.

•      Thematic searches can be improved further, and it is not at all times clear what the difference is between themes/domains and violations.

•      The search engine does not include information on the payment status of just satisfaction claims. 

•      The search engine does not allow the implementation status of general and individual measures to be searched for separately.

•      In some cases, unilateral declarations appear on the database. We would welcome all unilateral declarations to be in the database (and involvement of the Committee of Ministers in their supervision). But when they appear, unilateral declarations are listed under the heading of friendly settlements. As unilateral declarations are clearly not friendly settlements this is a confusing way of organising the information.

•      We would welcome the better integration of the HUDOC and HUDOC-EXEC databases.  It would be very helpful for lawyers litigating cases to see the status of execution of similar repetitive cases in a one-stop search engine. This would also increase the awareness of the ECtHR with respect to the execution/non-execution status before further improvements that of repetitive judgments they address.

We believe that the voices of NGOs and lawyers have played a part in the revamping of the database. We look forward to further improvements that would enable us to fully track the status of judgments and thus enhance our ability to champion their implementation.

EIN would like to compile feedback from our members and partners. Let us know your feedback by contacting us at ein.strasbourg@gmail.com

Başak Çalı, EIN Chair