Human rights court takes holiday with huge backlog

THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights (EHCR) is about to embark on a seven-week holiday, leaving a backlog of some 60,000 cases awaiting consideration.

British lawyers claim the court is at risk of breaching its own convention with the average wait for cases to go before judges now topping five years. Under Article Six of the European Convention of Human Rights, undue and lengthy delays in legal proceedings are a breach of human rights.

"It is unacceptable to make people wait for five years for a judgement." said a spokesman for Stonewall, a Gay rights organisation which has a number of cases before the court.

The organisation Advice and Individual Rights in Europe (Aire) has 45 cases pending before the court. "Justice delayed is justice denied," Aire director Nula Mole said. "Unless governments (of countries which have ratified the convention) can find more money for the court it will get worse." Many thousands of applications are being made by people in former Soviet block countries which became signatories to the convention in the late 90s. she said.

Britain has the fifth highest number of provisional applications before the court. There are 4,457 British cases alleging breaches of human rights awaiting consideration. Another 706 registered applications have already been accepted and are awaiting a hearing date.

Italy heads the table, though, with 8,273 pending cases followed by France with 7,767 and Poland with 5,816.

The backlog of five years applies to all countries. However the court has just seven lawyers to deal with the UK cases. It is understood they are not just overstretched but in danger of being swamped by the outstanding case load.

Sadiq Khan, a London lawyer with law firm Christian Fisher said he has several cases which have taken five years to reach a determination by the court. "I have one case when the petition was lodged last year and we still haven't heard anything."

All these cases involve people, sometimes in desperate circumstances, who have already spent many years exhausting their domestic remedies in the UK courts.

While the EHCR can give priority to cases in which life is at risk, those cases involving the loss of a home or job must remain in the queue.

Last year the court introduced a new system to accommodate the backlog. A permanent court was established, replacing the original two-tier system. But last week the court president Luzius Wildhader admitted the problem was still daunting.

In the first five and a half months of this year the restructured court in has opened 10,217 provisional case files - already two-thirds of last year's total of 16,353. Mr Wildhader appealed for a "firm political commitment" by governments of member states to ensure the convention was "respected at national level" to ease the pressure on the court.

Wait For Judgment

ROBBIE POWELL died in a Swansea hospital nine years ago, aged 10, suffering from Addison's disease, which is rare but treatable. His parents, Diane and Will (right), took legal action, believing doctors had covered up their failure to identify his condition in time.

In 1997, the Appeal Court ruled doctors had no legal duty to tell the truth to the family of a child who dies under their care. Mr Powell has been diagnosed with post-traumatic shock, which he says is caused by refusal to tell the truth, leaving him unable to work. In October he wrote to the ECHR claiming a breach of his human rights. Even if the case is accepted, the Powells may have to wait five more years for judgment. Mr Powell says: "Half a million pounds has been spent on the legal battle and we still don't know the truth. I suppose I will just have to be patient."

Suggested Topics
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sport LIVEFollow the latest news and scores from today's Premier League as Liverpool make a blistering start against Norwich
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLESir Cliff Richard has used a candid appearance on an Australian talk show to address long-running speculation about his sexuality

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit