The protection of fundamental human rights is one of the toughest challenges of the contemporary civilised world, where the phenomena of economic and political globalization inevitably places the needs of groups and communities before those of the individuals who compose them. Moreover, the exposure of individuals to various kinds of interference in the exercise of their freedom and in the enjoyment of their rights increases every day their demand for legal and judicial protection. To meet this demand, our firm offers a series of specific and highly qualified skills in the field, both nationally and internationally. In particular, the firm is able to ensure the exhaustion of all appropriate actions before the international bodies established for the specific purpose of protecting human rights, such as the European Court of Human Rights of Strasbourg and the UN Human Rights Council of Geneva, or before any other instances of supranational justice competent to deal with issues concerning human rights, such the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. In this field the activity before the European Court of Human Rights assumes a crucial importance, since this institution is currently the supreme guarantor of fundamental rights before which individuals may present a claim against the Italian State to see the violation of their rights recognised and obtain redress for the prejudice suffered. The constant efforts in this field make of our firm one of the firsts in Italy when it comes to filing applications before the European Court in Strasbourg and conducting all subsequent defensive activities.

Applications before the European Court of Human Rights

11Over the last two decades, the European Court has played a unique role ensuring the respect of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, signed in Rome in 1950 and ratified by Italy in 1955. However, this reality has not yet found proper recognition in our country, although the number of violations that could be brought before the European judge is constantly increasing. This would in fact require, first and foremost, a thorough understanding and knowledge of the case law of the European Court, which is fundamental for the interpretation of the Convention’s provisions, as well as a very good familiarity with the procedures prescribed by the latter and the Rules of Court for the submission of individual applications. In fact, in order to successfully initiate a procedure before the Strasbourg judge there are several formal conditions to be met that might easily escape the eye of unexperienced professionals. The matters that can be brought before the Strasbourg Court may cover the most diverse areas (fairness of trials, family law, personal freedom, privacy, protection of minors, economic rights, right of association, freedom of religion, etc.). Of particular importance for Italy are violations concerning the unreasonable length of civil, criminal and administrative trials: it is notorious that the Italian judicial system moves at an intolerably slow pace, that practically deprives citizens of the judicial protection of their rights . Currently, the situation is such that after a certain amount of years of pending judicial proceedings, anyone recurring to an Italian judge (or called before one) may claim to have suffered a violation of art. 6 paragraph 1 of the European Convention insomuch as it recognises the right to have a hearing within a reasonable time, and therefore ask redress for the damage suffered. While in the past such a complaint could be raised only before the European Court of Human Rights, Law n. 89 of March 24th 2001 (the so-called “Pinto law”) has provided the possibility to make the same claim before Italian Courts. Consequently, those who intend to obtain compensation for material and moral damages suffered as a result of the unreasonable length of their judicial proceeding may lodge a complaint before the competent Court of Appeal However, in the event of unfavourable outcome these individuals may still recourse to the European Court of Human Rights.

Permanent Observatory on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights

In March 2008, lawyer Mr Anton Giulio Lana oversaw the creation of a permanent observatory on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights of which he is currently the Director.

The increasing role of the European Convention on Human Rights in our legal framework – especially as a result of the well-known judgments of the Constitutional Court of October 24th 2007, n. 348 and n. 349 – has in fact imposed the need to create a tool able to ensure wider knowledge and dissemination of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights among legal practitioners, as requested by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In this context, the Permanent Observatory aims to facilitate the access to the case law of the European Court, made difficult to some because of linguistic barriers (the judgments and decisions of the European Court are written in English and / or French and no regular system of translation in Italian is provided). The Observatory is therefore a valuable reference tool for lawyers, judges, government officials, police or even ordinary citizens, who may access its content easily, for free and, most importantly, in Italian.

The Observatory is either directly accessible on the website www.osservatoriocedu.eu or through the link on the website of the Presidency of the Council of Ministries, department for equal opportunities.

Activities in the field of human rights protection

The engagement of the firm in the field of human rights is not limited to offering all appropriate forms of legal protection, but further includes the promotion and dissemination of the culture of human rights at both the national and international level. In this context, the firm uses different instruments, among which emerges the active participation in the activities of the Lawyers’ Union for the protection of human rights (UFTDU) aimed at raising awareness among institutions, legal practitioners and the community. In addition to playing a leading role in the organisation of important conferences on the protection of fundamental rights (for example the training course on the International Protection of Human Rights for lawyers, judges and other legal professionals held every year), the firm is a major contributor to the quarterly magazine published by the UFTDU entitled Human Rights: chronicles and battles, which is a fundamental tool to disseminate and deepen the subject. The vast network woven by the firm with important names in the field of human rights protection (such as judges, lawyers, university professors, members of international organisations and agencies) ensures a constant flow of knowledge and expertise in the field.

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