Minister Kitt urges reform of the European Court of Human Rights
Mr. Tom Kitt, T.D., Minister for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, represented Ireland this morning at the 112th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Minister signed two new Council of Europe protocols on behalf of Ireland, namely the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism.
Minister Kitt was the keynote speaker at the Committee of Ministers on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights. 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 its effectiveness is being undermined by a huge backlog of over 35,000 cases.
In his remarks, Minister Kitt noted the urgency of the need for reform given that the Court's caseload continued to grow by more than 1,000 new cases per month. He called for speedy implementation of a reform package allied with increased financial support for the European Court itself.
The Minister welcomed the decision of the Committee to implement the reform package and said "these measures are very welcome. They will protect the essence of the right of individual petition and will ensure that ordinary European people will continue to have meaningful access to the European Court.
In his remarks, the Minister added:
"The European Convention on Human Rights is the foundation stone of modern human rights protection. It is playing a central role in the process of reconstruction and integration in Europe on the basis of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The Convention has developed into the strongest and most robust human rights treaty there is. I believe it to be a model of effective international justice."
In the margins of the meeting, Minister Kitt had bilateral political discussions with Ministers from the Russian Federation, Armenia and Georgia. Minister Kitt conveyed the Government's condolences to the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Mr Chizhov, at the loss of life and suffering caused to innocent people by the outrageous terrorist attacks this week in Chechnya.
Minister Kitt also had discussions with the President of the European Court of Human Rights and was briefed by the Council of Europe Secretariat on the use to which Irish Government funding of nearly 2 million euros is being put in projects to promote human rights and pluralist democracy in Eastern Europe.
The full text of Minister Kitt's remarks can be found at www.irlgov.ie/iveagh