Kox: More support urgently needed for European Court of Human Rights

21 May 2010

Kox: More support urgently needed for European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg needs urgent support if it is to make inroads into colossal waiting lists. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans are currently awaiting rulings from the continent's highest court, with waiting periods reaching up to eight years. SP Senator Tiny Kox wants to see the Council of Europe make it an absolute priority that every European who appeals to the ECHR can expect effective justice.

Tiny KoxKox, Chair of the United European Left in the Council of Europe, laid emphasis on this today in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, where he was meeting with the government of the country. Macedonia will assume the six-month rotating presidency of Europe's major human rights body on July 1st. "There is every reason," Kox told them, "to be proud that on our continent everyone has access to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. That makes Europe unique."

But, Kox added, "between extending rights and making them effective there remains a yawning gap. That must change. Everyone appears to understand the need for radical improvement. But many governments are still not prepared to match deeds to words. Considerably more resources must be made available so that the Court of Human Rights can settle cases more rapidly, while European and national legal proceedings must be improved. Only then can European judges arrive at decisions more quickly and national courts function better. Fewer people will then be obliged to appeal to 'Strasbourg' in the case of a dispute with their own national authorities."

Kox also noted that it was of great importance that the European Union accede as quickly as possible to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Negotiations on this have now begun. "What must be avoided is that bureaucrats manage the accession process and dream up a problem for every solution. Macedonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the hope and the expectation that negotiations can be concluded, indeed, quickly and satisfactorily. The EU's accession to the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe could very likely put an end to the Court's structural deficits as well as those of the rest of the Council's organs. While the EU has too much money, the Council of Europe is short of it."

The Dutch government recently promised in the Senate that it would do all in its power to promote a speedy accession. "I'm please with the positive attitude of our Foreign Minister and Minister for Justice," said Kox. "But now I want to see them, and others, follow this up in both the Council of Europe and the EU. Of a government which has declared human rights to be a priority, this might reasonably be demanded, as also might the money to back it up, so that actions can be added to words."

You are here