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70% of ECtHR cases concern Russia, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine
President Robert Spano

25 Jan 2022 / human rights Print

Russia, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine dominate ECtHR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) exists to meet the test of precarious times such as these, its president Robert Spano said this morning.

Spano said that few areas of life had remained untouched by the pandemic in 2021 and the ECtHR had processed 80 interim measure requests, mostly on virus-related detentions.

“Preserving at all cost the principles of democratic governance and the rule of law has now become more vital than ever.

“Let’s never forget: a world without these fundamental principles is a world that is no longer free,” President Spano said at the launch of the court’s annual report and statistics for 2021.

Complaints have been brought on:

  • Lockdown and confinement measures (Terheş v Romania),
  • Restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and religion (Magdić v Croatia),
  • Vaccination and health passes (Zambrano v France),
  • Dissemination of untrue information (pending case Avagyan v Russia),
  • Financial damage to businesses (Toromag, SRO v. Slovakia),
  • Conditions of detention (Feilazoo v Malta).

The ECtHR ruled on 36,000 applications in 2021, a live broadcast from the Council of Europe’s internet site heard this morning.

President Robert Spano said that the number of Grand Chamber or Chamber judgments rose to 428 (relating to 1,037 applications), an increase of 9% compared to 2020.


At the end of 2020, there were 62,000 pending applications. At year-end 2021, this figure had increased by 13%, to 70,150.

Turkey submitted 15,250 complaints, an increase of almost 30%; followed by Ukraine with about 11,350 complaints, an increase of 9%; and finally Romania with 5,700 complaints, which was a decrease of 24%.

A full 70% of the pending cases concerned four countries – the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Romania.

The Russian Federation was the source of around 17,000 complaints, an increase of 24% compared to the previous year.

Turkey submitted 15,250 complaints, an increase of almost 30%, followed by Ukraine with about 11,350 complaints, an increase of 9%, and finally Romania with 5,700 complaints which was a decrease of 24%.

A new strategy for processing “impact cases” was introduced in 2021, in addition to the prioritisation policy in place since 2009.

'Impact cases'

Impact cases raise issues of great importance for the applicant and respondent State or for the development of the Convention system in general.

As of 1 January, more than 500 cases fell into this category, and concerned:

  • Freedom of expression,
  • Right to a fair trial,
  • Wiretapping and secret surveillance of journalists,
  • Pandemic cases,
  • Discrimination against sexual minorities,
  • Right to information,
  • Environmental nuisance.

As of 1 September, case-drafting became more concise within the jurisdiction of the three-judge committees.

2021 also saw the entry into force of Protocol No 15, which added a reference to the principles of subsidiarity and margin of appreciation to the ECHR preamble.

From 1 February, the time-limit for bringing a case before the ECtHR will be four months.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland