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Human Rights Court struggles with backlog

24 January 2008

The European Court of Human Rights has almost 80,000 cases pending, according to its annual survey just released.

Last year saw 41,700 new allocated applications - the court's measure of incoming business - a 6% rise on 2006, giving a total of 79,427 cases currently before the court. A lack of funding and suitable judges has contributed to the backlog, with some cases dating back to the mid-1990s.

However only a minority of cases go to a full hearing. The survey also discloses that 27,057 cases were declared inadmissible or struck off, while 1,735 were disposed of by judgment.

Four countries account for more than half of the court's outstanding cases. Russia is defending 20,296 cases, Turkey 9,173, Romania 8,275 and the Ukraine 5,811. Last year the Turkish government was found guilty of human rights violations in 319 cases.

The number of current cases against the UK is 1,363. This compares with 2,350 for France, 2,500 for Germany and 2,900 for Italy.

The only European country which does not recognise the court is Belarus.