The judicial year of the European Court of Human Rights opened on January 30, officially marking the start of the Court’s 50th anniversary year. The Court, based in Strasbourg, which is comprised of of one judge for each state party to the Convention (47), ensures that states comply with their obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Notable judgments of the ECHR include:
- Ruling that the United Kingdom had violated Article 2 (right to life) for shootings in Northern Ireland.
- Ruling that Turkey had violated Article 6 (right to a fair trial) for trying civilians in military courts in northern Cyprus.
- Ruling that Germany had not violated Article 7 (no punishment without law) in convicting former East German officials after unification for the killings of East Germans attempting to escape to West Germany.
- Ruling that Ireland had not violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) by prohibiting religious radio advertising.
At a press conference on January 30, the President of the Court, Jean-Paul Costa, noted the ECHR’s successes over the past fifty years but also looked ahead to combating the 21st century problems it faces. In particular, he stressed the size of the current, and continuously growing caseload (nearly 100,000 cases pending) and pointed out that the Court could not simply continue to increase its staff and resources indefinitely. Mr. Costa stated that he hopes new reforms, including the effective execution of the Court’s judgments by Member States, and a re-structured protection mechanism allowing the Court to concentrate its efforts on important cases, would safeguard its long-term effectiveness.