A national mechanism for full implementation of ECHR judgments is being prepared

27-02-2024 13:27

The establishment of a national framework for the full implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) is urgent in Bulgaria. It is a condition for better protection of citizens' rights at national level and for reducing the number of convictions against the Bulgarian state. Part of the solution is to create a national mechanism at two levels — political and expert, with the participation of all three authorities. A Council is being considered, which will be responsible for the implementation of the ECHR decisions, with the participation of ministers, representatives of the judiciary and the legislature. As well as a working group of experts from the different authorities supporting its work.

This became clear at an interim conference for the presentation of the progress of the project ‘Strengthening the national capacity for implementation of ECHR judgments’, Justice Programme of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014 — 2021. The project, which is yet to be finalised, is being implemented by government agents from the Directorate for the Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria before the ECHR at the Ministry of Justice. Ensuring effective implementation of the Strasbourg Court's judgments is one of its core activities.

Currently, the manner of payment of the compensation awarded by the ECHR is regulated by law — by a decision of the Council of Ministers, and in the procedural laws the ECHR's decision is a ground for reopening cases. At the same time Bulgaria has over 180 European Court decisions ‘in the process of implementation’, our country is also in the top statistics of countries that have delayed implementations for over 10 years. And countries like the Czech Republic, Greece and Croatia already have a national mechanism in place on the issue.

The head of the political cabinet of the Minister of Justice, Dr Borislav Ganchev, stressed that the first big step was taken at the beginning of the project with the introduction of the Human Rights discipline as a compulsory subject for law students.

‘We often talk about how many ECHR judgments there are against the state, but we rarely think about what we are doing so that we do not implement judgments from 2009 only in 2023,’ Dr. Ganchev, who is also the head of the programme operator of the Justice programme of the National Fund for Justice, emphasized.

The project also works on overcoming the problems of effective protection of the rights of vulnerable groups related to the ongoing reform of institutions for children with disabilities, ensuring their independent representation before the institutions. An example was the case of ‘Nencheva and others v. Bulgaria’. Solutions are also sought to the problems of the group of cases ‘Yordanova and others v. Bulgaria’ — seizure or removal of housing without assessing the proportionality of the measure.

The project also covers capacity building for human rights training in law faculties and provision of training materials. The conference also featured the launch of the brand new edition of the European Convention on Human Rights. Principles and Law, composed of leading human rights experts.

The invaluable expert assistance of the partners from the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the University of Oslo in capacity building for the effective teaching of the Human Rights discipline and the development of a PhD program at New Bulgarian University was highlighted.