Report on the study visit to the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (3-8 March 2013)
The study visit was organised from 3-8 March 2013 for employees of the Agency Sector before the European Court of Human Rights, namely for the advisors from the Sector Jelena Savić, Biljana Sladojević Milatović, Dina Dobrković, Maja Milenković and Nenad Petković. On the first working day of the visit, 4 March 2013, the advisors registered in the Council of Europe (CoE), visited the building of the CoE and were introduced to the structure and organisation of the CoE. After that, the advisors visited the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the CoE and met with Vladan Lazović and Jelena Backović, who introduced them with the work of the Mission and its role and tasks in relation to the European Court of Human Rights. On the second day the advisors attended the 1164th meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE (DH meeting, 5-7 March 2013), together with the delegation of the Republic of Serbia. The aim was to get acquainted with the way in which the Committee of Ministers, which supervises the execution of judgments of the EctHR, works. After adopting the agenda, the meeting of the Committee of Ministers began with the discussion of the case Cyprus v. Turkey. The first issue that was discussed was the issue of missing persons. Delegations which took part in the discussion (United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and others) commended the steps undertaken by Turkey in solving this case which has been on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers for years. Delegation of the Republic of Serbia pointed to its own experience in solving similar cases and asked the responsible state in this case to undertake all necessary steps to solve this problem as soon as possible; it also gave its full support to the Cyprus delegation's position that Turkey should enable access to independent experts to all military bases. The afternoon session dealt with several more cases. On the third day of the study visit, the advisors attended EctHR Grand Chamber hearing in the case of O’Keeffe v. Ireland. The case is related to the sexual abuse of schoolgirl in period 1972/73 and obligation of the Republic of Ireland to undertake an effective investigation in this regard. The presence on the Grand Chamber hearing was extremely important in the light of the upcoming hearing before the Grand Chamber in the case Vučkovic and others against Serbia, which is scheduled for 15 May 2013. The hearing was attended by a large number of observers and among others, there were representatives of the so-called Kosovo office of Human Rights, whose presence is especially welcomed by the President of the Court Mr. Dean Spielmen. After the Grand Chamber hearing and re-visiting the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the CoE, advisors had the meeting, in the Court’s premises, with Mr. Branimir Pleše, who works as a legal advisor in the Division that handles applications against Serbia, within the European Court of Human Rights. This meeting was very useful and advisors had opportunity to learn more about the way how applications are handled and about their path to the final decision. Also, advisors were introduced with the structure and functioning of the Court. Mr. Pleše has presented the latest statistics of the Court, according to which currently there are 128,000 cases. In the first place, by the number of applications is Russia, which has around 27.000 applications lodged with the Court, after that comes Turkey with 16.700 applications, then Italy with 14.150 applications, while Serbia is in fourth place with 12.500 applications. Advisors, also, had an opportunity to meet other employees at the Court who are in charge for the applications against the Serbia. On the fourth day, the advisors attended the continuation of the Committee of Ministers CoE meeting on which among the other themes, a case Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina was discussed and the proposal of Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt the amandment on the decision in this case, on which the Serbian delegation gave a full support and encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue with the efforts toward a full enforcement of the judgment liabilities. On this meeting, the decision in case Grudić v. Serbia was also adopted, the report of Republic of Serbia was accepted and the suggestion for the prolongation of the timelimit for the fullfilement of the liabilities from this judgement. Committee of Ministers CoE decided to extend the time-limit for taking measures until 24th September 2013, and encouraged the Serbian authorities to intensify their efforts not only in respect of the termination of the verification process, but also in respect of taking all appropriate measures in the new time-limit. It was decided to adjourn the discussion of this case until the next meeting on the base of the new informations obtained from the state. The same day, in the afternoon, the meeting with the EctHR judge Dragoljub Popović was held. On this meeting, the subject was the structure and the functioning of the EctHR, make-decision process in the Court's Committee, and the best examples of Well Established Case Law, which was of the great importance for the advisors. A study visit of the advisors to the European Court of Human Rights contributed to the better informations and understanding of the Court's functioning, as well as introduction with the work of the Committee of Ministers which supervises the execution of judgments of the EctHR. The meetings which were held had for its purpose the necessary flow of information between EctHR, on the one side and the Agency Sector before the European Court of Human Rights of Republic of Serbia, on the other, аs well as joint resolution of the existing problems towards the diminuation of the number of application against the Republic of Serbia before EctHR.