The Council of Europe must strengthen the protection of human rights in Europe, as ministers of the 47 member states prepare for a two-day meeting to discuss proposals for further reforms of the European Court of Human Rights.
Ministers are set to gather in the Swiss resort of Interlaken on 18 February to discuss the future of the court.
It was set up in 1959 to enforce the European Convention on Human Rights, which Council of Europe member states are obliged respect, through binding judgements.
Since then, it has delivered some 10,000 judgments in cases where governments have failed to honour their obligations under the European Convention.
However, the Court has had to deal with a backlog of over 100,000 cases and receives an enormous number of applications annually which put an enormous strain on its resources.
Also under discussion are problems with enforcement of the Court's judgements in member states.
"The way forward is better implementation of the Convention at national level that would increase respect for human rights throughout Europe," said Jill Heine, Legal Advisor at Amnesty International.
"If governments complied with their obligations under the Convention and implemented the Court's judgements quickly and effectively, the applications to the Court would be seriously reduced.
"In the meantime, the direct access of the hundreds of millions of Europeans to the Court that they now enjoy should be further facilitated, not obstructed.
"Proposals requiring applicants to pay fees or to be represented by a lawyer and communicate with the Court in English or French, should be shelved."
Amnesty International said it wants a strong and independent European Court of Human Rights, accessible to individuals claiming violations of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights when they have had no effective redress domestically.
The organization called on the Council of Europe to consider only such reforms to the Court that aim to strengthen the protection of the human rights of the people in Europe and ensure the Court's independence and excellence.
Picture: European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France. Copyright: APGraphicsBank