Who will oversee Ukraine’s implementation of ECHR judgements?
Human rights groups have welcomed the idea of creating a body responsible for monitoring implementation of European Court of Human Rights judgements on Ukraine. They have doubts, however, that it will be possible to make such a body independent.
Arkady Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, spoke of the call from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Ukraine and eight other member states to create national bodies answering for enforcement of ECHR rulings as an interesting idea. He agreed with the author of the PACE report, MP from the Party of the Regions, Serhiy Kivalov, that such a body would need to be created by the Verkhovna Rada. “At present control over implementation of ECHR judgements is carried out by the Justice Ministry, however it cannot have impact on parliament and on the courts. MPs on the other hand have the opportunity of influencing court practice by making amendments to laws”.
The Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group Yevhen Zakharov also believes that parliament’s role in implementing ECHR judgements needs to be strengthened. He warns, however, that enormous effort will be needed to ensure the independence of a national body on implementing Strasbourg’s judgements. “That will happen when the MPs who work there are protected from pressure and attacks by the executive bodies who will possibly not be enthusiastic about creation of such a body”/
Human rights activists say that the main reasons for the failure to implement European Court of Human Rights judgements is the authorities’ unwillingness to fulfil the Court’s demands and change laws and court practice in order to prevent the same violations and more applications to the Court in Strasbourg.
Among the countries with the largest number of applications to the ECHR are Ukraine; Russia; Turkey; Romania; and Poland. As reported, on 17 January the Court immediately allowed 206 claims by Ukrainians against failure to enforce the rulings of national courts.
Stanislav Shevchuk from the National Academy of Law and Ad Hoc ECHR Judge from Ukraine believes that Ukraine does not enforce the vast majority of European Court of Human Rights judgements. He says that the only achievement of the Ukrainian authorities has been to organize timely and full payment of compensation, however each judgement contains three components and money in compensation is only one of these.
The second is individual measures, such as review of a case where Ukrainian judges violated human rights.
The third are general measures on preventing violations of human rights in the future. “The European Court of Human Rights’ judgements are considered enforced only when they are taken off the monitoring record of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe which checks for implementation of all three of these components”.
Stanislav Shevchuk also considers that the kind of body envisaged in the PACE Resolution from 22 January could help the situation. He says that it should be inter-departmental, and its main function should be to agree the actions of the entire power structure. The most viable solution, he thinks, would be to create a permanent coordination council of heads of all branches of power. There should be instructions passed by the government, parliament and the judiciary on removing the violations of the European Convention on Human Rights identified in each ECHR judgement.
It is Ukraine, he stresses, which will be benefited by such measures which not only fulfil Ukraine’s international commitments, but also bring its legal system more in line with European human rights standards.