The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has formally begun rejecting improperly drawn up cases from Russia and four other countries, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.
“By tightening regulations in Strasbourg, they hope to relieve the case backlog. But Russian lawyers working at the ECHR say that now European justice will be available only for the few,” Kommersant said.
Although the ECHR has not officially announced the policy change, human rights activists warned of it a few days ago.
Anna Stavitskaya, a lawyer who specializes in filing complaints with the court, said the ECHR has started “working out a mechanism” to deny applications that do not follow the established template. The only exceptions are cases involving violation of the right to life and torture.
The guide for writing complaints says the document must include a completed form and a brief description of the case of no more than two pages. “In the past these were guidelines. Now they are obligatory,” Stavitskaya said.
Previously the filing process was more liberal. The court would give applicants advice on how to correct deficiencies and request additional documents. But now the ECHR will only send notifications of rejection.
Experts predict that in future applicants whose complaints are rejected will find it difficult to overcome the bureaucratic barriers to refiling the complaint.
The backlog at the ECHR currently amounts to 160,000 unexamined cases. Russia is the leader in the number of appeals filed with the court. The most common complaints are cases of torture, unfair trials and substandard detention conditions.