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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...

...Now hear the word of the Law.

This is the version used in the final episode of "The Prisoner"

The Bone Wars, also known as the "Great Dinosaur Rush", may help to explain why Philip Hollobone's backbone is a spineless Piltdown Man.

Anterior portion of the "head-on-the-wrong-end" version of Elasmosaurus platyurus published initially by Cope (1869, Pl. II, Fig. 1). The ten dorsal vertebrae shown in black approximate those noted by Cope to be missing from the type specimen. Note that Cope did not include the hind paddles in this figure in part due to his erroneous belief that Elasmosaurus was propelled by its extremely long “tail”.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) with big fanfare announced to the media that he was leading a debate on the topic of Prisoners (Voting Rights), between 9.30 - 11.00 am, on Tuesday 11 January 2011, in Westminster Hall at the House of Commons.

"We need some backbone-we need a hardened spine-if we are to take on the European Court of Human Rights and resist its judgment" [Hirst v UK (No2)].

So said the small fish in the small pond.

Meanwhile, across the English Channel, in Strasbourg, could the big fish in a far larger pond be licking their lips in anticipation of swallowing this minnow for breakfast? They too are not only to hold a debate, but also a vote on Wednesday 26 January 2011.

According to Doc. 12455 published on 20 December 2010, by the Council of Europe, the subject matter of the debate and vote is Implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

A. Draft resolution2

1. The Parliamentary Assembly considers itself duty-bound to contribute to the supervision of the effective implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights ("the Court"), on which the authority of the Court primarily depends.

2. Although, according to Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("the Convention"), it is the Committee of Ministers which supervises the execution of Court judgments, the Assembly and national parliaments must now play a much more proactive role in this respect; if this is not done, the key role of the Convention, its supervisory mechanism and the Council of Europe as a whole, in guaranteeing the effective protection of human rights in Europe is likely to be put in jeopardy.

3. The Assembly has therefore decided to give priority to the examination of major structural problems concerning cases in which extremely worrying delays in implementation have arisen, currently in nine states parties: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. Special in situ visits have been carried out by the rapporteur and Chairperson of its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to most of these states in order to examine with national decision makers the reasons for dilatory execution and/or non-compliance and to stress the urgent need to find solutions to these problems.

4. In a number of other states, inter alia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Serbia, the issue of non-compliance and solutions to outstanding problems should also be made a priority.

5. The Assembly notes with grave concern the continuing existence of major systemic deficiencies which cause large numbers of repetitive findings of violations of the Convention and which seriously undermine the rule of law in the states concerned. These problems relate in particular to:

5.1. excessive length of judicial proceedings leading to ineffective protection of a wide range of substantial rights (endemic notably in Italy);

5.2. chronic non-enforcement of domestic judicial decisions (widespread, in particular, in the Russian Federation and Ukraine);

5.3. deaths and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, and a lack of effective investigations thereof (particularly apparent in the Russian Federation and Moldova);

5.4. unlawful detention and excessive length of detention on remand (in Moldova, Poland, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine).

6. The Assembly deplores the above-mentioned implementation problems and intends to do its utmost, in co-operation with national parliaments, to assist States Parties to the Convention and the Committee of Ministers to eradicate the disgraceful situation of non-compliance with Court judgments.

7. The Assembly, in particular, urges the following states to give priority to specific problems:

7.1. Bulgaria must now adopt outstanding measures in order to avoid further deaths and ill-treatment under the responsibility of law enforcement officials. Progress is also needed to complete the reform aimed at ensuring that foreigners’ deportation procedures fully comply with the Convention (inter alia, the Court’s judgment Al-Nashif and Others v. Bulgaria). Moreover, Bulgaria must also pursue its efforts to solve the problem of excessive length of court proceedings;

7.2. The excessive length of judicial proceedings, especially before administrative courts, and abusive use of force by police officers remain key issues that Greece must tackle;

7.3. Italy must now take measures to address the excessive length of judicial proceedings. This has been a problem for decades, despite various interim resolutions adopted by the Committee of Ministers. A further issue of concern is the policy of non-respect of Court interim measures in a number of cases concerning foreigners;

7.4. Moldova must promptly take measures to ensure the enforcement of domestic final judgments, in particular in so-called social housing cases (the Court’s pilot judgment Olaru and Others v. Moldova). Moreover, it should also strengthen its efforts in order to avoid further cases of ill-treatment in police custody and ensure effective investigations into such abuses. Additional measures should also be taken with a view to improving conditions in detention facilities and filling lacunae in procedures concerning arrest and detention on remand, revealed by the Court’s judgments. Lastly, it is essential that an effective domestic remedy is introduced in response to the pilot judgment of Olaru and Others;

7.5. The excessive length of procedures before courts and administrative authorities, as well as that of detention on remand, are key issues that Poland must tackle;

7.6. The issue of restitution of – or compensation for – nationalised property has to remain a priority for Romania (see the Court’s pilot judgment Maria Atanasiu and Others v. Romania of 12 October 2010). The problem of excessive length of judicial proceedings and non-enforcement of final court decisions must now also be tackled. As regards the case of Rotaru v. Romania, concerning abuses of information by the Romanian Intelligence Service, despite the Committee of Ministers’ insistence, legislative reform is still outstanding, some 10 years after the Court’s judgment;

7.7. The Russian Federation must tackle pressing issues, in particular:

7.7.1. relating to the functioning of the administration of justice and prison system: the authorities must ensure that the reform adopted in May 2010 to address the non-enforcement of domestic judicial court decisions (see pilot judgment Burdov No. 2) is finally implemented and is effective, seven years after the original Burdov (No. 1) case. Regarding the quashing of final judgments through the supervisory review procedure (the so-called nadzor system, see the case of Ryabykh), the third attempt at effective reform to limit the use of this procedure must now be ensured. Continuing efforts to solve the major issues of poor conditions and overcrowding in remand centres, ill-treatment in police custody, excessive length of detention on remand and several procedural deficiencies related to the latter, are insufficient and must be increased in order to bring Russian practice into line with Convention requirements;

7.7.2 related to the action of security forces in the Chechen Republic: the greatest concern relates to repetitive grave human rights violations in this region. Regrettably, the alleged recent structural improvements of domestic investigatory procedures have not as yet led to any tangible results. The actual elucidation of at least a significant part of these cases is indispensable in order to end the climate of impunity in this region;

7.8. The most prevalent problems in Turkey currently concern the failure to re-open proceedings after a Court judgment having declared the initial proceedings to be in violation of the Convention in the case of Hulki Günes v. Turkey (judgment of 19 June 2003), and the repeated imprisonment of Mr Osman Murat Ülke for conscientious objection to military service (judgment of 24 January 2006). Concerning the former, significant pressure from the Committee of Ministers – including three interim resolutions – has still not borne fruit;

7.9. As a matter of urgency, Ukraine must adopt a comprehensive strategy to tackle the situation in which a considerable number of domestic final judgments remain unenforced, despite significant pressure from the Committee of Ministers, and to implement an effective domestic remedy in response to the pilot judgment Yuriy Nikolayevich Ivanov v. Ukraine. Ukraine must also accelerate domestic judicial proceedings, reform criminal procedure and ensure the full independence and impartiality of judges. In addition, measures are needed to combat the abuse of force by police officers and ensure effective investigation into allegations of such ill-treatment. The continued impunity of the instigators and organisers of the murder of the journalist Gongadze (Gongadze v. Ukraine judgment of 8 February 2006) is still a matter of great concern (see the Assembly's Resolution 1466 (2005), Resolution 1645 (2009) and Recommendation 1856 (2009));

7.10. The United Kingdom must put to an end the practice of delaying full implementation of Court judgments with respect to politically sensitive issues, such as prisoners’ voting rights.

2 Draft resolution adopted unanimously by the committee on 17 November 2010.

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