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Council of Europe announces ECHR reforms agreement

The 47 member states composing the Council of Europe [official website] on Friday agreed to a declaration [text] that will bring new changes to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] in order to make it more efficient. The declaration, which comes as an attempt to better facilitate operations at the overloaded ECHR, includes a provision that makes is easier for the court to reject cases [AFP report] that should not be at the international court level. The declaration also provides for more funding to go to the ECHR in order to increase resources and staff. While provisions already exist that require a case to exhaust all appeals within the member state, the declaration gives these provisions a more narrow interpretation and requires member states to apply ECHR rulings to cases involving similar facts in order to avoid backlogs of cases. All member states still need to officially ratify the declaration, which is expected to be complete by 2013.

The ECHR declaration is intended to allow the court to continue hearing cases concerning various international issues. Just last week, Muslim Cleric Abu Qatada lodged an appeal [JURIST report] of his deportation from the UK with the European Court of Human Rights. Last month, the court urged [JURIST report] the Ukrainian government to ensure that former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko receive adequate medical treatment during the time she is imprisoned. Also last month, the ECHR ruled [JURIST report] that the right of a person in a same-sex partnership to adopt his or her partner's child is not protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

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