MINELRES: ERRC: Letter on "Group of Wise Persons" on European Court of Human Rights

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Sep 7 11:51:52 2005


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


Council of Europe Authorities Urged to Ensure Adequate Representation of 
Non-Governmental Organizations and Lawyers with Recognised Competence in 
the Field of International Law


Budapest, 1 September 2005. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) today 
sent a letter to Council of Europe Secretary General Mr Terry Davis,
urging him to ensure the transparency and fairness of future reforms to
the European Court of Human Rights by including independent experts on
the so-called "Group of Wise Persons" charged with drawing up a
long-term comprehensive strategy for insuring the effectiveness of the
European Court of Human Rights. The ERRC letter specifically calls for
the inclusion of NGO representatives in the Group, as well as of lawyers
with recognized competence in the field of international law. The ERRC
letter additionally calls for transparency in the course of constituting
the Group, as well as for attention to ensuring adequate representation
to victim groups. The letter is copied to a number of other Council of
Europe authorities.

The ERRC urges other NGOs and individuals to send similar letters of 
concern to the Council of Europe. The full text of the ERRC letter, as
well as the names and contact information for relevant Council of Europe 
authorities follows below:

Honourable Mr Davis,

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an international public interest 
law organisation, welcomes the outcomes of the Third Summit of Heads of 
State and Government of the Council of Europe, held in Warsaw on 16-17
May 2005, on the implementation of the European Convention on Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the effectiveness of the European
Court of Human Rights. We also welcome the commitments made by the
Committee of
Ministers to establish a Group of Wise Persons responsible for drawing
up a long-term comprehensive strategy for insuring the effectiveness of
the European Court of Human Rights. The ERRC considers that in order to
have a comprehensive strategy for restructuring this most important
institution for the protection of human rights, fundamental values are
engaged.  These include transparency, due process, and the full
participation of civil society.

In this context, the ERRC submits the following recommendations to the 
Committee of Ministers on the appointment of the Group of Wise Persons:

The ERRC urges the Committee of Ministers to enhance the fairness and 
transparency of this process by establishing procedures in advance and 
providing the public - and in particular interested groups - sufficient 
time to review and respond to the procedures. To ensure due process, we 
urge the following:

The Committee of Ministers should ensure that there is adequate 
representation on the Group of Wise Persons of both non-governmental 
organizations (NGOs) and lawyers with recognised competence in the field
of international law and who regularly represent applicants before the
Court of Human Rights. Being familiar with the current challenges faced
by the Court from the viewpoint of the applicant and civil society, we
believe that the experience and expertise of lawyers and NGOs will be
instrumental in discussions of the future of the Court. The inclusion of
these two key groups of persons in the Group of Wise Persons will ensure
that the process of reform is informed by the opinions of actual and
potential Court applicants.

Appointment of such persons to the Group of Wise Persons would be 
consistent with the commitments made at the Council of Europe's Third 
Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16-17 May 2005 to enhance the 
participation of NGOs in the Council of Europe's activities based on the 
common criteria adopted by the Committee of Ministers:
"- candidates are to have the qualities of integrity and independence 
essential to the exercise of their functions. In particular, they are to 
have no hierarchical link with a government of a member state or with a 
Council of Europe body;
- the group should bring together the following skills: detailed
knowledge 
of the European Convention on Human Rights control mechanism; recognised 
competence in the field of international law and its application at 
national and international levels (in this respect, a balance should be 
struck between the different European legal systems); experience of the 
management of a national or international court comparable to the
European Court of Human Rights;
- at least one member of the group should have recognised expertise in 
auditing and financial management".

Additionally, the Court itself, as the primary guarantor of fundamental 
human rights in Europe, should ensure fair representation in the Group
on 
the basis of gender, age, disability, and ethnicity.  Since these 
vulnerable groups are those most frequently in need of human rights 
protection, their voices must be heard in the evolution of new and
improved procedures for said protection.  During the course of its
restructuring, the Court should take positive action to ensure inclusion
of all sectors of society, especially the most vulnerable.

In order to ensure such diverse representation, The ERRC also urges the 
Committee of Ministers to ensure transparent process of selection and
the 
participation of civil society both in the process of nomination and in
the pre-selection of the members of the Group of Wise Persons.

The ERRC joins the recommendations made by Amnesty International, the
AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) and the European
Human Rights Advocacy Centre that the voice of civil society should be
heard early and often in all discussions and measures proposed which aim
to achieve better implementation of the European Convention in each of
the 46 Council of Europe Member States and the long-term effectiveness
of the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is a non-governmental
organisation 
which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal
defence 
in cases of human rights abuse. Since its establishment in 1996, the
ERRC 
has been involved in the legal defence of more than 30 cases of human 
rights violations against Roma ruled on or currently pending before the 
European Court of Human Rights,  as well as first-hand field research in 
more than a dozen countries. Information about the ERRCs legal defence 
activities, as well as additional information about the organization, is 
available on the Internet at http://www.errc.org.

Sincerely,
Dimitrina Petrova,
Executive Director

Persons wishing to send similar appeals are urged to address them to:

Mr Terry Davis, Secretary General
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 99

Mr Diogo Freitas do Amaral,
Chairman of the Committee of Ministers
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 11

Mr René Van der Linden,
President of the Parliamentary Assembly
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 90 21 56 51

Mr Luzius Wildhaber,
President of the European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 30

Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 99

Mr Joaquim Duarte,
Chairman of the Ministers' Deputies
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 11

Mr Bruno Haller
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 90 21 56 51

Mr Christos Rozakis, Vice-President
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 30

Mr Jean-Paul Costa, Vice-President
European Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 30

Mr Serhiy Holovaty, Chairperson
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Fax: +33 3 90 21 56 51
_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence 
in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the European 
Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax: +36 1 4132201
_____________________________________________

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