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ECHR as evidence of the European judicial system impending collapse


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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), an international judicial body based in Strasbourg, France, has increasingly come under criticism in recent years for its controversial judgments. For example, in 2017, the ineffectiveness of the ECHR has been exposed after it was revealed it has failed to implement nearly 10,000 rulings.


This February, the Grand Chamber of 17 judges headed by Jon Fridrik Kjølbro investigated a 2009 NATO bombing in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians. Two stolen fuel tankers had been sighted around 7 kilometers from a German military base, stuck on a river sandbank. Afghan civilians, including children, had surrounded the tankers with hopes of siphoning some of the fuel. A German commander ordered American jets to destroy the trucks, resulting in a large blast. Although it was initially reported that many of those killed were Taliban fighters, it was later revealed that most of the dead were civilians. The case was brought to the ECHR by an Afghan man, Abdul Hanan, who lost two children in the airstrike. The man argued that Germany violated his son's right to life, as well as his right to file damages. The Strasbourg-based court found there was "no violation" of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They added that German authorities "complied" with the requirements "of an effective investigation" under the rights charter.


Moreover, this April, the European Court of Human Rights issued judgment that mandatory vaccinations of children under the Czech Republic’s health policy do not violate Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The case brought before the ECHR concerned several parents who had refused compulsory vaccinations for their children and had received a fine while several others had been unable to send their children to nursery school. The parents argued that this was a violation of respect for private life. In a landmark ruling, the court found that while the Czech policy interfered with the right to a private life, there was a need to protect public health. At the same time, the ECHR did not consider the issue of the existence of effective alternative options for the protection of public health, which did not require universal vaccination of children.


In addition, there is a clear fact of the impartiality principle absence on the part of the ECHR. Thus, the European Court demanded from the Russian authorities to release immediately the opposition politician Alexey Navalny, but this requirement was contrary to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. At the same time, Russia said that the ECHR was “extremely unsuccessful in demonstrating its absolute political engagement”.


Every year the ECHR is increasingly losing its credibility in the international arena as a result of its controversial activities. According to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, the court’s authority and standing as slowly crumbling away as countries continue to defy its rulings. Probably, the extreme unpopularity of the ECHR and the recognition of its ineffectiveness are the first sign the European international system needs to be reformed as soon as possible in order to avoid its total collapse.


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