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Regional conference on obligation to execute decisions of the European Court of Human Rights

Podgorica 31 January 2019
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Regional conference on obligation to execute decisions of the European Court of Human Rights

All European countries are obliged to enforce the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights and thus demonstrate their commitment to respecting the fundamental human rights and values ​​on which the Council of Europe and the European Union are founded. This is one of the key conclusions of the regional conference "The obligation to execute decisions of the European Court of Human Rights", organised by the European Union and the Council of Europe in Podgorica today.

The conference gathered representatives of the constitutional courts and judicial authorities of the countries of the region, state authorities of Montenegro, the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. The host of the conference, Montenegro, is strongly committed to fully respecting the rights of its citizens, as well as the Strasbourg court judgments, which is most competent to assess violations of these rights.

"The Statute of the Council of Europe stipulates that human rights, the rule of law and democracy are the most important values ​​of the member states. The European Court of Human Rights today represents a modern Europe united in diversity. Two attributes make this court magnificent - the right to individual complaint, because the citizen becomes a subject of international law, equal to the most powerful of the states and the richest of the Governments. The second attribute is the international legal mechanism for monitoring the execution of the judgments of the Court. Each State Party undertook to enforce any judgment of the Court. As Vice Prime Minister and Minister, I am proud today because Montenegro is leading in the timely and just execution of court judgments and can serve as an example to other member states of the Council of Europe. Such an approach will be continued, while at the same time we will be developing national institutions for the protection of human rights and freedoms. None of the judgments is at the expense of Montenegro, but gives us guidelines on how to develop the legal order and strengthen human rights and freedoms for the benefit of citizens," stated the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Montenegro and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin.

Representatives of Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina before the court in Strasbourg attended the conference in Podgorica, exchanged their countries’ experiences and the Head of Section at the Council of Europe's Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Katarina Nedeljkovic, contributed to the discussion.

"The efficiency of the Convention system is based on ensuring respect for its rules and consequently for the Strasbourg Court judgments. When it comes to Montenegro, it has been a loyal friend of the Convention and achieved excellent results in execution of European Court's judgments. Montenegro has executed more than 90% of all judgments rendered by Strasbourg. Similarly, the situation in the region is also encouraging: we witness important decrease in the number of judgments in the execution procedure. This is particularly true of the country hosting this great conference - Montenegro, where there are only two judgments pending the execution procedure. If the primary goal of any court is to ensure respect for the rights, in this case for human rights and freedoms, it is important to establish national mechanisms that will ensure a better respect for these rights, and this is a topic we are constantly discussing with our colleagues from the region," said Katarina Nedeljkovic.

On the path to membership in the European Union, respect for human rights is an area where there is no compromise with candidate countries, and the European Union is making significant efforts to empower institutions that in practice enforce domestic laws and international conventions.

"The EU funds this and similar projects, designed to enhance the application of the European Court of Human Rights case-law on national level. The amount of 700.000 euros is dedicated to activities focusing on raising the capacity of judges, prosecutors and lawyers to better apply human right standards in their daily work. We noted in the last Country Report that Montenegro continued to ensure a good level of cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights. The government continues to conclude friendly settlements in cases concerning the length of proceedings and non-enforcement of domestic decisions. The overall awareness of institutions and the judiciary of the rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights is increasing. However, improvements are still needed regarding the application of the European Court of Human Rights standards in daily practices," emphasized H.E. Aivo Orav, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.

With the support of the European Union, the Council of Europe is implementing the Horizontal Facility programme in the Western Balkans and Turkey and today’s conference on the execution of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights was organised within this joint programme. The programme assists the countries of the Western Balkans to overcome challenges related to the implementation of the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, to make sure citizens can fully benefit from the rights granted under the European Convention for Human rights.

"Execution of judgments will prevent violations of rights in the future, which is why it is preventively important. Judgments are excellent for identifying the problem, and it is up to countries to find solutions that would not repeat human rights violations. The Council of Europe, with the support of the EU, is ready to support the countries of the region through concrete measures, examples and experiences from other countries. It is important to strengthen the judiciary and all the mechanisms of the state that protect human rights," said the Head of the Unit for South East Europe and Turkey, Council of Europe Daniel Schmidt.

The conference also provided statistical data that illustrate the experience of countries in the region before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Citizens of all countries most frequently addressed the court in the previous year for violating the right to a trial within a reasonable time before the domestic judiciary, and Montenegro remained among the top five European countries according to the number of court cases in relation to the number of citizens.