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Russia lower house ratifies Europe rights court reform protocol

[JURIST] The Russian State Duma [official website, Russian] on Thursday passed a resolution to ratify [ECHR press release] Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF], making the Russian Federation the last Council of Europe (COE) [official website] member-state to ratify the provision. The ratification passed with 392 votes [results, Russian] out of 450. COE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland called the move [statement] "a significant decision by the State Duma, [that] will be of importance for the whole of Europe. ... By joining the other 46 member states, Russia is sending a strong signal of its commitment to Europe." Protocol 14 envisages reforms to increase efficiency of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], such as filtering out inadmissible and repetitive cases. Admissibility will be determined by a single judge, but most cases will still be ruled on by three-judge panel. Russia was initially opposed to ratifying the protocol, which it claimed was politically motivated.

In June, the COE harshly criticized Russia's judicial system and called for reform [JURIST report]. In recent years, Russia has had the largest number of cases pending in the ECHR out of any COE member-state. In 2009 [statistics, PDF], Russia had 32,600 cases pending, followed next by Turkey, which had 12,800 cases pending, and in 2008 [statistics, PDF] Russia had 27,250 cases pending, followed next by Turkey, which had 11,100 cases pending. In 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile; JURIST news archive] proposed that Russian courts become more transparent [JURIST report] in order to restore faith in the justice system and prevent people from turning to the ECHR.

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