Ulkoministeriö / Utrikesministeriet

MFA: Protocol no. 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights enters into force on 1 August 2021 – the period for submitting an application to the European Court of Human Rights will be reduced to four months after a transition period

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Adopted in June 2013, Protocol No. 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights will enter into force on 1 August 2021. Its entry into force will reduce the application period to four months and also introduce other changes to the right to submit applications to the European Court of Human Rights. The shorter application period is, however, subject to a transition period, which ends on 1 February 2022.

The fifteenth protocol amending the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was adopted and opened for signature on 24 June 2013. As all the Contracting Parties to the ECHR, including Finland, have now ratified the Protocol, it will enter into force on 1 August 2021.

The Protocol brings some major changes to the process of lodging an application with the European Court of Human Rights that sits in Strasbourg. As regards applicants, the most significant change is the reduction of the period for submitting an application. The current six-month application period will be reduced to four months after a final domestic decision.

The reduced time period is, however, subject to a transition rule under which the four-month period for submitting an application to the Court will not be effective before 1 February 2022. The shorter application period will also not apply to cases where the final national decision was given prior to the entry into force of the Protocol, i.e. before 1 August 2021.

Another major change concerns the admissibility criteria of a human rights application at the Court with regard to ‘significant disadvantage’. Following this amendment, cases where the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage will not be admitted, even if the alleged human rights violation had not been duly considered by a domestic tribunal. Consequently, the European Court of Human Rights will no longer process applications that can be characterised as insignificant.

The Protocol underlines the subsidiarity of the application mechanism under the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to applying the Convention at national level. Alleged human rights violations should primarily be processed before national courts.

The Protocol removes the right of the parties to an application to object to relinquishment of jurisdiction by a Chamber to the Grand Chamber in cases that involve an important issue concerning the interpretation of the Convention, or in cases where the ruling would amount to a potential conflict with the Court’s existing case-law.

The Protocol also sets an upper age limit of 65 years for judicial candidates to the European Court of Human Rights.

Inquiries:

Krista Oinonen, Director, Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions, Agent of the Finnish Government at the European Court of Human Rights, tel. +358 295 351 172

Mia Spolander, Legal Counsellor, Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions, tel. +358 295 350 666

The email addresses of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi

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