HC Deb 28 February 1995 vol 255 cc563-4W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases are currently before(a) the European Commission on Human Rights and (b) the European Court of Human Rights; how many judgments were delivered by the European Court in 1994; how many member states have introduced the right of petition since 1989; and if he will make a statement on how it is proposed to speed up the procedures.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

We understand from the human rights directorate of the Council of Europe that, as of 31 December 1994, the European Commission of Human Rights had before it 2,927 applications, of which 583 had been declared admissible. As of the same date, there were 67 cases before the European Court of Human Rights. The court delivered 540 judgments in 1994.

The following member states of the Council of Europe have recognised the right of individual petition since 1989:

  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

In addition, Turkey, which recognised the right of individual petition in 1987, recognised the compulsory jurisdiction of the court in 1990.

Some streamlining of the procedures of the Commission and Court was introduced by additional protocol No. 8 to the European convention on human rights. A more radical reform is envisaged under additional protocol No. 11 to the convention, which provides for the present two-tier system of Commission and Court to be replaced by a single court. The aim is to enable the machinery to deal efficiently with the caseload arising from both the growing membership of the Council of Europe and increasing public awareness of the convention.

Protocol 11 must be signed and ratified by all of the member states before it can come into effect. All 34 member states have now signed the protocol. Four, including the United Kingdom, have ratified it and others are expected to do so soon.

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