The Council of Europe (COE) [official website] 30th Conference of Ministers of Justice [official website] passed three resolutions [official report, PDF] on Friday at the close of the three-day meeting in Istanbul. The resolutions, "data protection and privacy in the third millennium," "prison policy in today's Europe" and "modern, transparent and effective justice" [texts, PDF] declare that all 47 member countries will attempt to use new technologies [press release] to promote efficiency, accountability and transparency in each member state's justice system. The resolutions also aim to confront the issue of overcrowding in member state prisons and promote interest from non-member states on the Convention on Protecting Data [text, PDF]. The conference was the first COE event held under the Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. Sadullah Ergin [official profile], Minister of Justice of Turkey [official website], called on member states to work together to bring about reform, stating "We know that this is an ongoing process, and we know that all countries in Europe must work together if we want to make the vision a reality." The next Conference of Ministers of Justice will be held in Austria.
Earlier this year, the COE addressed reform for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] at the Interlaken Conference [official website; fact sheet, PDF] with a joint declaration [text, PDF; press release] released in February to undertake reforms [JURIST report] of the ECHR by the end of 2011 in order to address the increasing number of complaints. The ECHR currently has a backlog of approximately 120,000 cases, of which an estimated 90 percent are inadmissible or lack a legal basis. The declaration's Action Plan recognizes the need to preserve the right of individual petition, but considers changes to procedures that will reduce repetitive cases and filter admissible cases. Some of the measures proposed aim to increase efficiency [BBC report] by reducing the number of judges required to carry out some of these procedures.