Ensuring respect for ECHR norms: parliamentary structures to supervise compliance

Speaking at a seminar jointly organised by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs and the Italian Chamber of Deputies on "Ensuring respect for ECHR norms: parliamentary structures to supervise compliance", Paul Mahoney, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights with respect to the United Kingdom, focused on two points regarding the utility of parliamentary action in, as he put it, "a self-interested sense".

He cited, on the one hand, the preventive "Convention-proofing" of draft legislation by parliaments as a matter of routine and on the other hand prompt intervention by the parliament of a respondent State in enacting remedial legislation after the delivery of a pilot judgement by the Strasbourg Court. In both cases, he pointed out, "parliamentary action or inaction has the power to 'make or break' the success of it".

Martin Kuijer, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Security and Justice (Netherlands), stressed that the Convention mechanism is in part affected by public opinion, which in turn is influenced by the tone of the parliamentary debate. "Here I think a real challenge lies for all of us, i.e. the need to convince the wider public of the continued need for European supervision in a politically sensitive field such as human rights," he said.

Nicola Lupu, Professor of Public Law at the University of Rome, said that there was a certain controversy in so far as "respecting norms and guaranteeing human rights therein are in the hands of member states, but which institutions are politically responsible for implementing these rights?"

Participants also agreed with the Chairperson of the Italian PACE delegation, Michele Nicoletti, that the role of parliaments is not limited to monitoring the implementation of judgements but also in harmonising the application of the case law ex-ante.