The number of appeals pending from Italy reached 17,300 by the end of August, up from 14,400 in December, according to the figures published on Thursday.
Applications from Italy now account for 19.3 percent of the court’s total cases.
Russia, meanwhile, has 12,100 appeals pending.
A spokesperson for the court told The Local the rise was due to a surge in appeals over Italy’s prison conditions since January 2013, when the court ruled that overcrowding “violated basic human rights” and ordered the government to pay €100,000 to seven inmates who brought the so-called Torreggiani case over cramped living conditions.
“It’s for this reason that Italy is first on the list,” the spokesperson said.
Since the ruling, Italy has improved conditions, winning praise from the Council of Europe, which said in June that “significant results” had been achieved.
A remedy system was recently set up to handle complaints, and cases can only be submitted to the ECHR if all domestic remedies have been exhausted and human rights violations are found, the spokesperson explained.
On Thursday, the court rejected the complaints of 19 prisoners in Italy because it “considered that it had no evidence enabling it to find that those remedies did not offer, in principle, prospects of appropriate relief for the complaints submitted under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"It followed that the applicants' complaint concerning overcrowding in prisons had to be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.”
The spokesperson said it remains to be seen if the remedy system will have a real impact the number of appeals to the court.
Meanwhile, Padua Mayor Massimo Bitonci came under fire this week for paying an inmate almost €5,000 in compensation an "inhumane" prison cell.