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Netherlands Helsinki Committee / Themes / Securing Rule of Law

Securing Rule of Law

The development of a fair and efficient legal system is a major challenge in large parts of Europe. Access of people to justice that conforms to and takes into account international standards is far from universal. Trust in the judicial system is low in many countries. The use of the European Convention on Human Rights and of case law of the European Court for Human Rights by courts is often limited.

The NHC has worked in a number of countries, most recently between 2006 and 2011 in the Southern Caucasus, on training and accompaniment of NGOs and lawyers to work with the European Human Rights Convention in national courts, and on the submission of complaints to the Court in Strasbourg. This would put judges and the political system under pressure to apply the Convention in a more systematic way. Improving the work of the judiciary has also been addressed in a number of countries by direct interaction with judges, such as in projects to strengthen independent professional associations of judges (most recently in Bulgaria, between 2008 and 2011).

The NHC has a long tradition in organising capacity-building of officials and professionals in the criminal justice sector. International best practice is employed in processes of training, accompaniment and policy development for systemic change, leading to improvements in human rights for vulnerable groups including detained persons and trafficked persons. Most of this work traditionally has taken place in the context of fulfilling the criteria for EU accession.