Minister Cowen urges reform of European Court of Human Rights
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D., was today a keynote speaker at a Council of Europe Ministerial Session dealing with reform of the Court of Human Rights. Addressing the session in Moldova, the Minister noted the urgency of the problems facing the Court, which is now facing a backlog of 39,000 cases.
“The European Convention for Human Rights is the bedrock of human rights protection in Europe. It is the most robust human rights treaty there is. And thanks to the remarkable achievement of successive judges and experts in the Court of Human Rights, the Convention has become a vital and living instrument for the defence and protection of human rights here in Europe.
Our task for the next six months is to secure the Court's essential place as guarantor of individual human rights for the future”, the Minister said.
Minister Cowen acknowledged that the issue of reform had provoked serious debate among Member States of the Council of Europe and underlined the importance of “continuing constructive cooperation in seeking a resolution of the different viewpoints in a spirit of compromise”.
The Minister underlined the importance of “early, open and effective cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly, with the Court itself and with the public at large who are the most important stakeholders in the reforms under discussion”. He welcomed the consultations arranged with national human rights institutions and NGOs at the end of January 2004.
Note for Editors
Administrative reforms of the Court of Human Rights continue to be an ongoing issue within the Council of Europe. Among the reforms proposed have been the addition of new admissibility criteria which would aim to increase the effectiveness of the application system. Currently, a case may take as long as five years to go through the Court system. Ireland has been to the forefront of diplomatic efforts in Strasbourg to ensure that the European Court continues its important human rights work at a time when the Court's caseload is growing at a rate of 1000 cases a month. In was in this context that Minister Cowen was invited to be a key note speaker on this issue.