The European Court of Human Rights was established in Strasbourg in 1959. It decides on complaints from individual applicants and complaints from Contracting Parties against each other.
The Parliamentary Assembly elects one judge for each member state of the Council of Europe. They act not as representatives of their state, but as independent judges at the Court. Prof. Anja Seibert-Fohr has been the German judge at the Court since 2020, having succeeded Prof. Angelika Nußberger.
Pursuant to the Convention, the Court’s judgments are binding on the states concerned. If the Court finds there has been a violation of the Convention, it can, according to Article 41, afford just satisfaction to the injured party. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitors the enforcement of the Court’s judgments.
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international agreement under which the member states of the Council of Europe have undertaken to guarantee their citizens basic civil and political rights. All member states of the Council of Europe are obliged to ratify the Convention.
The admissibility of an application depends on whether all domestic remedies have been exhausted. A prerequisite in Germany is that the plaintiff must have appealed unsuccessfully to the Federal Constitutional Court against an infringement of his or her rights. Germany was involved in eight judgments of the Court in 2019, and in a total of 23 in 2018. Hearings of the Court are in principle public. Judgments are issued in the official languages of the Council of Europe (English and French).
Over the past several years, the Court has received huge numbers of applications. As a result of various reforms implemented in recent years, the Court is now better equipped to deal with its workload. Nonetheless, over 60,000 hearings were pending in October 2020.