VIDEO INTERVIEW | Prof. Dr. Jelena Ristic: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is the crown jewel of human rights protection

Jelena Ristic - lawyer and professor at Ukim ISPPI / Photo: "Sloboden Pechat" - Dragan Mitreski

The last time the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR) was in the public eye was the verdict on the "Transporter", "Torture", "Titanic" and "TNT" cases in which several high-ranking state officials were accused or suspected. Knowledge of the work of this Court is of crucial importance in order to understand how the protection of human rights works at the international level, and when a citizen believes that his rights have been violated by a judgment from a national court. North Macedonia is not in the group of countries from which a large number of lawsuits for violation of human rights are accepted by the Court.

- The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) is the crown jewel of human rights protection. When we consider the historical context of the establishment of this court and respect for human rights, I will emphasize one example through one country, and that is Greece. Namely, in 1969, reports were prepared in which Greece was listed as a country in which there is a massive violation of human rights. Greece, aware of the assessment, withdrew from the membership of the Council of Europe before the end of the voting process, to be a member again in 1974. When we compare the practice of protection, i.e. the violation of human rights in Macedonia in comparison with other member states of the Council of Europe, I can notice that a high percentage of cases, about 95%, are not considered by the Court, that is, they are rejected or assessed as unfounded due to non-fulfilment of the eligibility criteria. If an analysis of the cases considered by the ECtHR is carried out, it can be noticed that other countries, which means Western European countries, have this kind of problems, and Macedonia is not an exception or a country with a high percentage of human rights violations - pointed out prof. Dr. Jelena Ristic.

Every citizen who believes that his human rights have been violated has the opportunity to hire a lawyer to file a complaint before the ECtHR, on the one hand, the number of cases that receive a court decision indicating that the state should eliminate a certain violation of human rights is very small, which suggests that the lawyers were not sufficiently educated, experienced and prepared to assess the case that the citizen is complaining about before submitting a complaint to the Court, on the other hand.

- In the last 10 years, the ECtHR experienced a real surge of applications from citizens, and as is known, a large number of these cases are rejected due to failure to meet the admissibility criteria provided by the European Convention on Human Rights. The fact is that this matter is not part of the daily practice of legal work not only for lawyers, but also for other entities in the justice system. I believe that there is insufficient knowledge regarding the correct application of the procedure and therefore education is very important. In my opinion, in order to understand and correctly apply the criteria for admissibility, one must know the entire functioning of the ECtHR, such as its role, jurisdiction, the procedure before the Court, the scope, interpretation, application of the Convention, that is, judicial practice. With the ratification of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, the European Convention on Human Rights becomes part of the legal order of the country and has direct applicability, which means that this type of document cannot be changed by law. I want to point out that judicial practice is very important when passing judgment. Namely, the ECHR cannot be taken only in its textual part, but the judicial practice must be taken into account. The ECtHR does not impose the most appropriate way, but foresees the minimum standard in the protection of human rights, or in other words identifies, at most, the minimum that a certain legal system should achieve - pointed out Professor Ristic.

The whole conversation with Prof. see Dr. Jelena Ristic in the video:

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