18 Jul 2023

ENNHRI reports on NHRIs’ important role in ensuring effective access to justice in its submission to the annual EU Charter Report  

Each year, the European Commission publishes a report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU. In its submission to this year’s report, ENNHRI highlights the key role of NHRIs in ensuring effective access to justice and legal remedies, and recommends the European Commission to encourage EU Member States to enable and strengthen such role for NHRIs.  

The European Commission has decided to dedicate its Annual Report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to the topic of effective legal protection as a precondition for the application of fundamental rights. Building upon ENNHRI’s annual reporting on the state of the rule of law in the European Union and our Baseline Report on the implementation of the Council of Europe Committee of Minister Recommendation on NHRIs, ENNHRI shared key practices that NHRIs in  the EU, and collectively through ENNHRI, undertake in relation to ensuring effective access to justice, in line with article 47 of the Charter on the right to an effective remedy and fair trial.  

Given their broad mandate to promote and protect human rights, in line with the UN Paris Principles, virtually all NHRIs, individually and collectively through ENNHRI, contribute to effective legal protection. They do so through a wide array of activities, including monitoring, reporting, and providing recommendations to state authorities, as well as through awareness-raising and education activities in relation to access to justice. Moreover, over half of NHRIs in the EU have the power to handle individual complaints, as well as the ability to engage in strategic litigation before national and international courts. Some NHRIs can do so through representing individuals before courts, by intervening in court proceedings as third parties, as well as through challenging before the constitutional court law and practices that may limit on access to justice. 

ENNHRI recommends the European Commission to recognise NHRIs’ role in relation to access to justice and to include recommendations for EU Member States to consider, in consultation with NHRIs, strengthening their mandate in relation to complaints handling and strategic litigation, where appropriate. Moreover, the European Commission should encourage EU Member States to provide NHRIs with adequate resources to carry out their mandate, as well as to provide them access to relevant information. Finally, building on the findings from NHRIs as reported in ENNHRI’s Rule of Law Reports from 2022 and 2023, ENNHRI points at the need to improve the efficiency of the justice system, enhance court’s accessibility and legal aid systems, as well as the need to ensure access to justice for vulnerable groups.  

Read ENNHRI’s 2023 submission to the EU Charter Report  

Read ENNHRI’s State of the Rule of Law in the European Union in 2022 and 2023, ENNHRI 2023 Baseline study on the implementation of the CoE Recommendation 2021/1 on NHRIs, and ENNHRI’s report “Implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights- Activities of National Human Rights Institution”.