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“A judgment in Strasbourg is not the end!” Report on the execution of judgement of the European Court of Human Rights

The HFHR has published a report on the execution of judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. The publication included many ECtHR judgments that refer to issues relevant to freedom and human rights.

International bodies, including judical authorities such as the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union, play currently a special role when rights and freedoms are violated.

The Council of Europe system, with the European Court of Human Rights at the forefront, is of exceptional importance in building standards for the protection of human rights in Europe. January 19 this year, 25 years have passed since Poland ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, under which the ECtHR was established. During those 25 years, the application to the ECtHR has ceased to be a novel measure and the possibility of submitting it has not only become a permanent feature of the legal system but also has been widely recognised by members of the public. The popularity of this legal route is evidenced mainly by the number of applications submitted to the Court and ECtHR rulings in Polish cases.

1145 judgments handed down in cases brought against Poland;

958 judgments in which the Court found that Poland had breached the Convention;

130 proceedings regarding Poland and other Council of Europe Member States in which the HFHR approached the ECtHR;

70 applications submitted to the ECtHR by the HFHR in cases involving Poland;

31 amicus curiae briefs filed by the HFHR in Polish cases pending before the Court;

20 different occasions, on which the HFHR approached the Council of Ministers in matters involving the execution of judgments of the ECtHR by Poland.

Summary:

  • Many of the Court’s rulings issued in Polish cases have forced the national authorities to change the law or judicial practice.
  • The Committee of Ministers has supervised the execution of judgments in 1652 cases against Poland, acknowledging to date the execution of 1532 cases.
  • Often, the introduction of legislative changes in the wake of the Court’s judgment is a lengthy process, which can even take more than five years.
  • In Beller v. Poland, a case concerning the excessive length of administrative proceedings, which is currently pending before the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the judgment is yet to be considered executed, despite it having been passed 13 years ago!
  • A special role in the Committee’s proceedings is played by non-governmental organisations, which have the right to submit observations on changes introduced at the national level.
  • In Polish cases, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Polish Bar Council are the most active NGOs participating in proceedings before the Committee.
  • Recently, members of civil society have been actively speaking out on the execution of the judgment in the case P. and S. v. Poland, which concerned ensuring effective access to legal abortion in the event of conception being a consequence of a prohibited act.
  • A number of judgments issued against Poland, which address important human rights aspects (personal liberty, prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the freedom of speech or the right to a fair trial), are still considered as non-executed by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers
  • It seems appropriate to strengthen the process of execution of ECtHR judgments in Poland at the institutional level. The Foundation believes that the current Parliament’s failure to establish a Permanent Subcommittee on the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights is by no means conducive to the full implementation of the Court’s “Polish” judgements.
  • A positive example of the Parliament’s involvement in the process of execution of ECtHR judgments is the amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act proposed by the Senate in response to a petition of the HFHR concerning the implementation of the judgment in Grabowski v. Poland.

HFHR’s report can be downloaded here.


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