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Press release issued by the Registrar

Inappropriate use of interim measures procedure

The European Court of Human Rights has over the past few days received a large number of
requests for the adoption of interim measures in respect of the French Governments decision
not to organise a referendum on the European Union Lisbon Treaty. The Court is empowered
to adopt interim measures under Rule 391 of its Rules of Court. However, as a matter of
consistent practice, it only does so where the applicant is at an established risk of imminent
and irreparable harm. This typically involves allegations of exposure to ill-treatment in
breach of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) of the
European Convention on Human Rights and the most common example is where the
applicant is on the point of expulsion to a country where he or she will be at risk of such
treatment or indeed face a life-threatening situation (raising issues under Article 2 of the
Convention - the right to life).

In 2007 the Court has received approximately 1,060 requests for interim measures and
granted 252 of them. The Court has, however, never granted a request for interim measures in
circumstances such as the refusal by a government to hold a referendum which falls far
outside the usual ambit of this procedure. The recent requests, which appear to be part of an
orchestrated campaign, have no chance whatsoever of success and serve solely to take up
time which could be spent on more urgent matters in respect of which the Court might be
called upon to issue an interim measure. The Court has currently some 100,000 applications
pending before it.


Further information about the Court can be found on its Internet site

Press contacts
Emma Hellyer (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 42 15)
Stphanie Klein (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 21 54)
Tracey Turner-Tretz (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 35 30)
Paramy Chanthalangsy (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 54 91)

The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe
Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on
Human Rights.

1 Article 39: The Chamber or, where appropriate, its President may, at the request of a party or of any other person
concerned, or of its own motion, indicate to the parties any interim measure which it considers should be adopted in the
interests of the parties or of the proper conduct of the proceedings before it.