9 May 2017
The Human Rights Litigation Foundation has the honour to announce that the European Strategic Litigation Programme (ESLP) has launched into action as of 2 May 2017 with the commencement of its first large-scale project: third-party interventions before the European Court of Human Rights.
Pursuant to Rule 44(3)(a) of the Rules of the Court, “any person concerned” may, with permission of the President of the Chamber, submit written comments or, in exceptional cases, take part in a hearing as a third-party. Third-party interventions are a powerful tool in the Strasbourg system. As a third-party, one may shed light on legal developments and assist the court in reaching the most legally accurate conclusion, as well as give contextual information allowing the Court to view the case against a broader background. However, there are also important confines to such interventions. Strict timelines must be respected, requiring daily review of communicated cases, and most importantly, a third-party may not comment on the facts or the merits of the case. The Foundation, in its capacity as third-party, must remain an unbiased observer: it is an amicus curiae, a friend of the Court.
The ESLP’s project has a specific objective which informs the cases it selects for third-party intervention. This objective is to identify, and if viable, intervene in, cases which reveal a systematic pattern of violations of a particular right in a particular country. In proving the existence of such a pattern, the Foundation will have a basis upon which to prompt the Court to trigger the “pilot procedure” envisioned in Rule 61 of the Rules of the Court. A pilot judgment allows the Court to take the matter beyond that individual case and order that general measures be implemented at national level. Through this vital procedure, the Court is able to address widespread violations and prevent their reoccurrence in the future.
With the above aims in mind, the ESLP team is currently monitoring communicated cases before the Court which involve violations of Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and prioritizing those which reveal a systematic and structural shortcoming. Cases currently being considered are Lakatos v. Hungary, App No 21786/15, concerning the excessive length and unfounded nature of pre-trial detention in Hungary, and Tomov and Others v. Russia, App No. 41234/16, in which detainees have complained about the inhumane and degrading conditions they suffer during inter-prison transfers. In assessing the viability of potential interventions, the ESLP team is contacting lawyers, non-governmental organisations and other actors on the ground to gain as much first-hand information as possible and to ensure that our submissions are accurate, complete, up-to-date, and most importantly, able to give a voice to those who are affected by these violations but not in a position to be heard by the Court. Following favourable verdicts delivered on these selected cases, the ESLP team will monitor their implementation and execution in the responding Governments.
We invite organisations and other actors directly involved in monitoring systematic human rights violations in their home countries to contact us at email@example.com should they wish to provide any relevant information which will support our call for pilot judgments.
President of the HRLFoundation