Are there any other international bodies or judicial institutions that can provide citizens with effective protection through alternative forms of judicial decisions?
The answer is “YES”. In addition to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, there are the UN-mandated Human Rights Committees, international procedures and institutions that provide immediate and flexible protection.
Alternative forms of “international courts” operate simply and relatively quickly. Any citizen who claims to be the victim of a violation of human rights can appeal by just sending a letter by fax or e-mail and complain of any violation that must of course be specified.
In practice, everyone can individually appeal against the state, complaining that his rights have been violated without the presentation of any formal information. ATTENTION, however, this letter, which is the subject of an appeal, must be written – preferably – in English or French (under no circumstances in Greek) and must be signed and bare the name of the applicant.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Human Rights Committee is a quasi-international body that applies the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Of particular importance is the fact that the Committee has developed an important case law that seriously shields the protection of human rights, and surpasses the ECHR on many occasions.
The Committee has the advantage over the ECtHR that the applicant has more time to appeal (5 years instead of 6 months in the ECtHR) and the relatively prompt hearing of individual appeals.
THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (CERD)
The Convention aims to eliminate racial discrimination in any form and manifestation, in order to prevent and combat racial isolation, racial superiority, hate and apartheid throughout the world.
The Committee has the possibility to examine individual appeals (Announcements) and to issue “suggestions and recommendations”
THE COMMISSION FOR THE ERADICATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The Convention has as its dominant element the elimination of gender inequalities and the fight against the stereotyped role of men and women.
Our country also ratified this with Law 2952/2001 the “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”, which allows the Committee to examine individual appeals (“applications”) and to issues decisions.
THE COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
The Convention aims to combat torture and all forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world.
Every citizen whose rights are violated from those specifically mentioned in the above Convention, has the right to submit an Individual Appeal before the Committee. The same can be done by close relatives or his attorney, but they must provide written authorization.
UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPORTEURS
The special procedures of the UN is a direct way of dealing with infringements of human rights, unknown to citizens but also to the legal community of the country. It is a model of the future. Already more and more people from 143 countries trust and the majority succeed with their cases. Why not we?
The most important of these are: the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Special Rapporteur on modern forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia; Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and its causes and consequences, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Immigrants, the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Countering Terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on the smuggling of persons, especially women and children, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of illicitly toxic and dangerous products, waste, etc.
The Special Procedures bodies issue recommendations that are undoubtedly not judicial decisions or views, do not bind the governments concerned, but their disclosure to international and local media and their official announcement to the Human Rights Council , to the UN General Assembly and, in some cases, to the Security Council, exercise an important pressure for their observance and implementation.
Special procedures can be used either by individuals, groups of individuals or by NGOs on behalf of those who appear to be victims of violations
There are 41 specific procedures, which are a “net” and a sphere of protection for all major social issues.