The Council of Europe’s Department for the Execution of Judgments (DEJ) has provided us with some useful feedback, relating to submissions made by applicants and their representatives on the implementation of judgments in Azerbaijan.
The feedback is as follows:
- Submissions on Azerbaijani cases are generally poorer compared to those made from other countries. There are issues with both form and content.
- In terms of form, many submissions about e.g. just satisfaction have been just by an informal email, which the DEJ can accept and record in the internal database but cannot circulate amongst the Committee of Ministers nor publish on its website, as it does not comply with the formal rules of the Committee of Ministers. This also means that they cannot be transmitted to the respondent State either. Such submissions need to be made in a separate Word document, in accordance with the standard requirements for Rule 9 submissions. When the DEJ replies to request such submissions are made in the right format, sometimes they get a new response, but sometimes they do not.
- In terms of content, there is a recurring problem with a lack of sufficient clarity. For example, many submissions on just satisfaction simply say that there was only a partial payment, without details of how much and when. Sometimes there is a lack of any clear reference to the particular applicant in the case (e.g. when there is a “group judgment” in which several applications were joined into one judgment, and the submission to the DEJ gives a reference number to that group but does not refer to the particular applicant).
- Further, it would be very useful if the Rule 9.2 submissions would include at the end concrete recommendations on what measures the authorities should take.
- A number of submissions include content concerning multiple cases which are contained in different groups. These are also difficult to process: content about different cases should be submitted in different/separate documents so that proper transmission to the respondent State and subsequent circulation as well as publication is made possible.
- As a general remark/advice for any Rule 9 submissions: representatives, applicants and NGOs should regard them as if they were formal submissions to the European Court, so the same standards for form and content should be complied with.
It is important for these issues to be addressed, for a number of reasons. First, these problems may mean that the information provided is not duly considered and taken into account. Second, they may mean that the DEJ does not have all of the information it needs in order to hold the government to account (e.g. it may not know how much just satisfaction is still left to be paid). Finally, it may mean that the DEJ is not able to circulate the submissions to members of the Committee of Ministers, which increases the pressure on Azerbaijan to address the relevant issues.
These problems may decrease the chances that just satisfaction is paid in full, or that other steps might be taken towards the implementation of judgments.
We recognise the difficult circumstances under which lawyers in Azerbaijan operate when dealing with the ECtHR – and the very poor record of the government when it comes to implementation. We hope that this information helps you operate as well as is possible in these circumstances.
George Stafford (European Implementation Network) and Ramute Remezaite (European Human Rights Advocacy Centre)