Thursday, 31 March 2011

London Conference on EU Accession to ECHR

The European Institute of University College London is organising a conference on 20 May 2011 entitled "Who will be the ultimate guardian of human rights in Europe? Implications of the European Union’s Accession to the European Convention on Human Rights". This is the information provided by the organisers:

The aim of this one day conference is to address the ever-topical question of the ultimate guarantor of human rights in the EU: the Union’s own court (the European Court of Justice), the European Court of Human Rights or national constitutional courts?

Given the envisaged accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, there is ample reason for re-visiting this question: the accession might completely change the landscape of human rights protection in Europe.

The legal background is as follows: Article 6 (2) of the Treaty on European Union puts the EU under an obligation to accede to the ECHR. With the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 to the ECHR, an accession has now become possible. Negotiations between the EU and the Council of Europe promptly started in July 2010 and are expected to be completed by June 2011.

The conference is to be held as a one day event on Friday, 20 May 2011 in the Faculty of Laws, University College London. Its aim is to bring together judges, officials, politicians, practitioners and academics, who will discuss the outcome of the accession negotiations so far, highlight potential problems (and proposals to resolve them) and consider the potential impact of an accession on the legal orders of the Union and the Member States. It is hoped that the outcome of the conference will lead to new insights about the future of human rights protection in Europe. The conference will be rounded up with a discussion panel co-organised and hosted by the German Embassy.

1 comment:

jailhouselawyer said...

I am interested in this issue because my case, Hirst v UK (No2), has exposed flaws in the present system of protection of prisoners human rights.

The Council of Europe is lacking in democratic accountability. In relation to my case, Urszula Gacek, Polish Ambassador to the Committee of Ministers, exposes the corruption within the CoM and explains why human rights abuses continue to go on unchecked.

"The Council of Europe does not make any commitments regarding the handling of external complaints, nor does it have any management systems to support or oversee the handling of external complaints. Furthermore, no mechanism exists that enables external stakeholders to lodge complaints regarding organisational policies".

However, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, observes that "The European Union, for example, realised that its own institutions needed a mechanism for complaints. The European Ombudsman, elected by the European Parliament, was set up precisely to deal with complaints from citizens concerning maladministration by EU institutions and bodies. Moreover, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is empowered to review claims from the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament and member states regarding the illegality of EU acts. Individuals may also challenge decisions addressed to them".

Quite apart from the Executive and Parliament failing to protect prisoners human rights, the Judiciary abdicated responsibility by deferring to Parliament. The ECtHR ruled in my favour, but then passes the buck to the CoM (Executive) and the UK Executive and the CoM have played political ping pong for over 5 years. Now the UK is seeking to overturn my case by way of Greens and MT v UK. Instead of the CoM referring my case back to the Court under rule 11 'infringement proceedings', in effect, the CoM is allowing the UK to appeal against an unappealable decision. That's if the Court agrees, and allows the UK to rehash the points it lost in my case. In this event, I fear it will all be over. 60 years gone down the drain...

Unless the CJEU steps in and puts the UK back in its place. Already prisoners are preparing cases which will have direct effect upon domestic law.