Especially in Turkey since the dramatic attempted coup d’état !
Speaking at the annual press conference of the European Court of Human Rights on 26 January 2017, President Raimondi took stock of the year 2016 and reported that the volume of incoming cases, after falling over the previous two years, had considerably increased. This had
largely been the result of the situation in three countries: Hungary and Romania, for complaints about detention conditions, and Turkey, especially since the dramatic attempted coup d’état in July 2016. While acknowledging the difficult situation in that country and underlining the importance of the most recent measures to allow judicial oversight of decisions relating to the state of emergency, the President made a point of commending the key role played in that context by the Council of
Europe’s Secretary General, who had maintained an ongoing dialogue with the Turkish authorities.
By the end of 2016 the number of pending cases stood at 79,750, up 23% compared to the end of 2015 (when there were 64,850 applications pending).
The annual table of violations by country shows that the States with the highest number of judgments against them, finding at least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,
were Russia (228 judgments), Turkey (88), Romania (86), Ukraine (73), Greece (45) and Hungary (41).
At 31 December 2016 the majority of pending cases were against Ukraine (22.8 %), Turkey (15.8 %), Hungary (11.2%), Russia (9.8 %), and Romania (9.3 %). Half the priority cases concerned Ukraine.
In 2016 the Court continued its efforts to reduce the backlog of cases. While the single-judge cases have been virtually eliminated, and this is a welcome development, the real challenge facing the Court continues to be the Chamber cases, which currently total almost 28,500, including 6,000 priority cases. At the end of 2016 the number of cases pending before the Court was in the region of 80,000. This is a far cry from the 160,000 cases that were pending in 2011, but there is no doubt that we must continue our efforts and that the situation remains very fragile. It should be pointed out that the number of applications allocated increased by more than 30% in 2016. This was the result of the situation in various countries, relating in particular to systemic problems with regard to conditions of detention. Although these cases concern only a limited number of countries, they are naturally regarded as a priority since they come under Article 3 of the Convention. We are all aware that there is no magic formula for dealing with these situations, either in the countries concerned, for whom this entails a significant financial outlay, or in Strasbourg.
Furthermore, the crises occurring in Europe inevitably have an impact on the number of cases brought before the Court. For instance, as 2016 draws to a close we are seeing a very large number of applications from Turkey. Whatever the eventual outcome of these applications, the Court will have to process and adjudicate them, which will add to its workload in the months ahead.
2015 saw the launch of a network for the exchange of information on the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Superior Courts Network, or SCN). This vital initiative, aimed at promoting the mutual exchange of information between our Court and the highest national courts, started with a test period involving the French courts. The results were conclusive, and twenty-three Superior Courts from seventeen States have now joined the Network. This success is a source of satisfaction.