States urged to exercise ‘utmost caution’ before setting aside Convention rights

Council of Europe member states are being urged to exercise “utmost caution” before derogating from – or setting aside – parts of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Such derogations are possible under the Convention “in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation” and have recently been made by Ukraine, France (whose derogation has since been withdrawn) and Turkey.

Recalling the applicable legal principles, the committee assessed these three cases and made specific recommendations to the countries concerned. It also urged any member State that may be considering derogation to consult with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe first, and to ensure that the state of emergency is properly supervised by parliament and the domestic courts.

The Secretary General should use his powers under Article 52 of the Convention to obtain detailed information on the measures taken by derogating states.

The committee also called on the Committee of Ministers to identify legal standards and good practice and, on that basis, to adopt a recommendation to member States.

The draft resolution and recommendation are due to be considered by the Assembly at its April part-session.