In Lifeline

Using pilot procedure as strategic litigation tool: Foundation granted leave to intervene before ECtHR in two cases concerning systematic rights violations

  1. The Human Rights Litigation Foundation is honoured to communicate that it has been granted leave to intervene as third party before the European Court of Human Rights in two crucial cases which the Foundation believes might have awidespread impact on making specific rights a tangible reality in the countries in question.

On 4 July 2017, the Court granted leave to intervene both to the Foundation and to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, with whom the Foundation will submit joint written observations, in the case of Lakatos v Hungary, Application No21786/15. In this case, the applicant alleges that repeated and unfounded extensions of his pre-trial detention, amounting to a period of over three and a half years,occurred in violation of Article 5 protecting the right to liberty and security of the person.

On 6 July 2017, the Foundation also received permission from the Court to intervene as a third party in the case of Tomov and Others v Russia, Application No 41234/16, in which the applicants complain under Article 3 about the appalling conditions of transfer of prisoners between detention facilities. With the collaboration of Russian human rights organisation Public Verdict Foundation, the Foundation has received extensive information about the occurrence of such transfers and will be able to provide the Court with an accurate and up-to-date depiction of the reality on the ground.

These two cases were specifically selected by the Foundation as they represent deep-rooted problems that require deep-rooted solutions. Lakatos follows a long line of cases where the Court found Hungary to have breached Article 5 for excessive pre-trial detention orders, and there are several pending applications containinganalogous complaints. Tomov similarly is but one case among several in which prisoners allege being subjected to inhumane treatment in the context of prisoner transfers.In light of the possibility that both cases are symbolic of a “structural or systemic” problem at national level, the Court, in communicating these cases to the respective governments, asked the parties whether each case called for the application of the pilot procedure contained in Rule 61 of the Rules of the Court.

The Foundation’s objective is to provide the facts and legal arguments necessary to prove that these cases are patentlyrepresentative of a widespread problem and thus lend themselves to the pilot procedure.In using the pilot judgment procedure as a strategic litigation tool, the Foundation will not only contribute to ensuring that the contours of this novel procedure are more clearly delineated. Importantly,the Foundation will stress that the pilot procedure is the only way that truly meaningful and concrete change can be achieved at national level, that only through the adoption of general measures will we be sure that these violations will not continue to be perpetrated in the future.

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