'A Risk of Irreparable Damage': Interim Measures in Proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights

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Interim measures can be indicated by most international decision-making bodies which monitor compliance with human rights norms to the parties involved in the proceedings before them, in order to prevent the commission of any irreversible actions which would either preclude the proper examination of a complaint or render the final judgment meaningless. The availability of interim measures is an essential feature of any effective judicial system, particularly where fundamental rights are at stake. They play a particularly important role in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights ('the Court'). The volume of requests for an indication of interim measures received by the Court each year is substantial and increasing. This presents the Court with a number of legal and practical problems. This chapter examines the circumstances in which an indication of interim measures may be made, as well as the consequences of non-compliance with such an indication, although it is acknowledged that the incidence of non-compliance is low. With its recent case law, the Court has brought the existence of interim measures to the attention of a wider audience, which is desirable as only such an awareness will render the protection of Convention rights practical and effective rather than theoretical and illusory, a stated goal of the Court. However, such a wider awareness will in turn increase the volume of requests again, making it likely that the Court will in years to come have to make significant changes to the scope of requests for interim measures, as well as to its practices and procedures for considering such requests.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/152888712802636094

Publication date: July 3, 2012

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