France Pressures for Ratification

STRASBOURG, France -- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stepped up pressure on Russia on Thursday to allow reform of the European Court of Human Rights, urging Moscow to ratify measures that would help eliminate a massive backlog of cases.

Kouchner joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel in calling on Russia without delay to back the reform, which would fast-track cases of human rights violations.

Russia is the only one of the 47 members of the Council of Europe -- the human rights watchdog that runs the court -- not to ratify the proposed measures, known as Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Its failure to do so is blocking them from coming into force.

The council had envisioned that the protocol would be ratified by all governments by the beginning of this year.