Letters: Out of the House

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Sir: Your article "Human Rights Court takes holiday with huge backlog" (28 June) gave in some respects a misleading impression of the work of the European Court of Human Rights.

As the court often deals with sensitive cases, it is unthinkable that it would shut down for seven weeks' holiday. During a six-week period over the summer, there will be no public hearings, but staff and judges will continue to examine cases and to make the necessary preparations for hearings scheduled for the autumn.

Currently, the court's workload is increasing by around 25 per cent a year. Today, we are faced with nearly 10,000 registered applications and more than 47,000 provisional files, as well as around 700 letters and more than 200 overseas telephone calls a day. The United Kingdom alone has 706 registered applications and 4,457 provisional files.

We are doing all we can to streamline our procedures, but such a backlog of work cannot be wiped out in matter of weeks or even months, however tirelessly the court's 80 lawyers and 40 judges work.

To help ease the pressure, as your article explains, we do indeed need firm political commitment from European governments so that problems can be resolved or prevented at national level.


Deputy Registrar, European Court of Human Rights