In the Media

Report urges reform of human rights court

PUBLISHED March 28, 2012

Thursday 29 March 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Ministers from 47 European states must agree plans to reform the human rights court in Strasbourg before pressure for the UK to withdraw from its jurisdiction becomes 'irresistible', a member of the government's Commission on Human Rights has said.

The UK's chairmanship of the Council of Europe culminates in a conference in Brighton on 19-20 April. Procedural reform of the European Court of Human Rights tops the agenda.

However, in Rescuing Human Rights, published last week by the Henry Jackson Society thinktank, Jonathan Fisher QC says procedural reform alone is not enough. He calls for a new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights to curb what he says is the court's 'judicial activism'.

'If successfully reformed, the court will survive,' he said. 'If not, pressure for the UK to withdraw from its jurisdiction may become irresistible.'

Meanwhile, a coalition of human rights campaign groups criticised the UK's proposed reforms to the court, claiming they will 'seriously undermine' its ability to protect convention rights.

Amnesty International and other NGOs said the proposed new admissibility criterion, which would enable cases to be struck out earlier in the judicial process, would forestall the court judging whether a domestic court had 'very seriously erred'.