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Advances in Ukraine cases – ECtHR president
Judge Síofra O’Leary speaking at the launch of the ECtHR's 2023 report (Pic: European Court of Human Rights)

25 Jan 2024 / human rights Print

Advances in Ukraine cases – ECtHR president

The President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has said that the court made “considerable advances” last year in processing cases linked to the war in Ukraine.

Irish judge Síofra O’Leary was speaking at the launch of the court’s annual report in Strasbourg.

She told reporters that a hearing on the merits of a case taken by Ukraine against Russia over alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea had taken place in December.

Judge O’Leary added that preparations for hearings on the admissibility and merits of three cases relating to events in eastern Ukraine from 2014 until 2022, and the downing of Malaysia airlines flight MH173, remain scheduled for the first part of this year.

Interim measures

Writing in the annual report, she expressed “grave concern” that some states were prepared to flout international rule-of-law requirements by disregarding interim measures ordered by the court, which it can issue in exceptional cases where there is “an imminent risk of irreparable harm”.

The judge also noted that the report was being published “at a time when armed conflict, and democratic and rule-of-law backsliding continue to afflict certain parts of Europe”.

The ECtHR secured additional resources to deal with its workload after Council of Europe members agreed new support at a summit in Reykjavik last year.

Fewer applications pending

Its 2023 report shows that the number of applications pending before the court fell significantly last year – to 68,450 from 74,650 in 2022.

Of the 38,260 applications dealt with last year, 6,931 gave rise to a judgment – a 66% increase compared with 2022.

Committees of three judges adopted judgments in respect of 6,386 applications, while single-judge formations dealt with 25,834 applications.

The number of applications communicated to respondent states more than doubled to 16,623.

Three-quarters of pending applications concern the same five states as those listed in the 2022 annual report: Türkiye (23,400 applications); the Russian Federation (12,450); Ukraine (8,750); Romania (4,150); and Italy (2,750).

Limited resources

Though Russia is no longer a member of the Council of Europe, it remains a respondent state in thousands of applications before the court.

Judge O’Leary said that the court had shifted more applications to committees (of seven judges) rather than chambers (three judges).

“It seeks to ensure that the court’s precious and limited resources are focused on the cases that most require them, with lighter and less costly procedures used for cases that are repetitive, or in relation to which the case-law is well-established,” she stated.

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