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European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Signed
Location
4 November 1950
Rome
Effective 3 September 1953
Signatories Council of Europe member states
Depositary Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Languages English and French
Wikisource logo European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms at Wikisource

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe,[1] the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.[2]

The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights. Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party can take a case to the Court. The decisions of the Court are not automatically legally binding, but the Court does have the power to award damages. The establishment of a Court to protect individuals from human rights violations is an innovative feature for an international convention on human rights, as it gives the individual an active role on the international arena (traditionally, only states are considered actors in international law). The European Convention is still the only international human rights agreement providing such a high degree of individual protection. State parties can also take cases against other state parties to the Court, although this power is rarely used.

The Convention has several protocols. For example, Protocol 13 prohibits the death penalty. The protocols accepted vary from State Party to State Party, though it is understood that state parties should be party to as many protocols as possible.

Contents

History

The Convention was drafted by the Council of Europe after World War II. Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe was the Chair of the Council's legal and administrative division from 1949 to 1952, and oversaw the drafting of Convention. It was designed to incorporate a traditional civil liberties approach to securing "effective political democracy", from the strongest traditions in the United Kingdom, France and other member states of Europe. The Convention was opened for signature on 4 November 1950 in Rome. It was ratified and entered into force on 3 September 1953. It is overseen by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and the Council of Europe. Until recently, the Convention was also overseen by a European Commission on Human Rights.

Drafting

The Convention is drafted in broad terms, in a similar (albeit more modern) manner to the English Bill of Rights, the American Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the first part of the German Basic law. Statements of principle are, from a legal point of view, not determinative and require extensive "interpretation" by courts to bring out meaning in particular factual situations.

Convention articles

As amended by Protocol 11, the Convention consists of three parts. The main rights and freedoms are contained in Section I, which consists of Articles 2 to 18. Section II (Articles 19 to 51) sets up the Court and its rules of operation. Section III contains various concluding provisions.

Before the entry into force of Protocol 11, Section II (Article 19) set up the Commission and the Court, Sections III (Articles 20 to 37) and IV (Articles 38 to 59) included the high-level machinery for the operation of, respectively, the Commission and the Court, and Section V contained various concluding provisions.

Many of the Articles in Section I are structured in two paragraphs: the first sets out a basic right or freedom (such as Article 2(1) - the right to life) but the second contains various exclusions, exceptions or limitations on the basic right (such as Article 2(2) - which excepts certain uses of force leading to death).

Article 1 - respecting rights

Article 1 simply binds the signatory parties to secure the rights under the other Articles of the Convention "within their jurisdiction". In exceptional cases, "jurisdiction" may not be confined to a Contracting State's own national territory; the obligation to secure Convention rights then also extends to foreign territory, such as occupied land in which the State exercises effective control.

Article 2 - life

Article 2 protects the right of every person to their life. The first paragraph of the article contains an exception for the lawful executions, while the second paragraph provides that death resulting from defending one self or others, arresting a suspect or fugitive, or suppressing riots or insurrections, will not contravene the Article when the use of force involved is "no more than absolutely necessary".

This right does also not derogate under article 15 of the convention during peacetime. The exemption for the case of lawful executions is further restricted by Protocols 6 and 13 (see below), for those parties who are also parties to those protocols.

The European Court of Human Rights did not rule upon the right to life until 1995, when in McCann v. United Kingdom[3] it ruled that the exception contained in the second paragraph do not constitute situations when it is permitted to kill, but situations where it is permitted to use force which might result in the deprivation of life.[4]

The Court has ruled that states have three main duties under Article 2:

  1. a duty to refrain from unlawful killing,
  2. a duty to investigate suspicious deaths and,
  3. in certain circumstances, a positive duty to prevent foreseeable loss of life.[5]

Article 3 - torture

Article 3 prohibits torture, and "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". There are no exceptions or limitations on this right. This provision usually applies, apart from torture, to cases of severe police violence and poor conditions in detention.

The Court have emphasised the fundamental nature of Article 3 in holding that the prohibition is made in "absolute terms ... irrespective of a victim's conduct."[6] The Court has also held that states cannot deport or extradite individuals who might be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in the recipient state.[7]

Initially the Court took a restrictive view on what consisted of torture, preferring to find that states had inflicted inhuman and degrading treatment. Thus the court held that practices such as sleep deprivation, subjecting individual to intense noise and requiring them to stand against a wall with their limbs outstretched for extended periods of time, did not constitute torture.[8] In fact the Court only found a state guilty of torture in 1996 in the case of a detainee who was suspended by his arms whilst his hands were tied behind his back.[9] Since then the Court has appeared to be more open to finding states guilty of torture and has even ruled that since the Convention is a "living instrument", treatment which it had previously characterised as inhuman or degrading treatment might in future be regarded as torture.[10]

Article 4 - servitude

Article 4 prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour but exempts labour:

  • done as a normal part of imprisonment,
  • in the form of compulsory military service or work done as an alternative by conscientious objectors,
  • required to be done during a state of emergency, and
  • considered to be a part of a person's normal "civic obligations."

Article 5 - liberty and security

Article 5 provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. Liberty and security of the person are taken as a "compound" concept - security of the person has not been subject to separate interpretation by the Court.

Article 5 provides the right to liberty, subject only to lawful arrest or detention under certain other circumstances, such as arrest on suspicion of a crime or imprisonment in fulfilment of a sentence. The article also provides the right to be informed in a language one understands of the reasons for the arrest and any charge against them, the right of prompt access to judicial proceedings to determine the legality of one's arrest or detention and to trial within a reasonable time or release pending trial, and the right to compensation in the case of arrest or detention in violation of this article.

  • Steel v. United Kingdom (1998) 28 EHRR 603

Article 6 - fair trial

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, access to legal representation, right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, right to the free assistance of an interpreter).

The majority of Convention violations that the Court finds today are excessive delays, in violation of the "reasonable time" requirement, in civil and criminal proceedings before national courts, mostly in Italy and France. Under the "independent tribunal" requirement, the Court has ruled that military judges in Turkish state security courts are incompatible with Article 6. Turkey now adopted a law abolishing these courts in compliance with the Article.

Another significant set of violations concerns the "confrontation clause" of Article 6 (i.e. the right to examine witnesses or have them examined). In this respect, problems of compliance with Article 6 may arise when national laws allow the use in evidence of the testimonies of absent, anonymous and vulnerable witnesses.

Article 7 - retrospectivity

Prohibits the retrospective criminalisation of acts and omissions. No person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offence at the time of its commission. The article states that a criminal offence is one under either national or international law, which would permit a party to prosecute someone for a crime which was not illegal under their domestic law at the time, so long as it was prohibited by international law. The Article also prohibits a heavier penalty being imposed than was applicable at the time when the criminal act was committed.

Article 7 incorporates the legal principle nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege into the convention.

Article 8 - privacy

Article 8 provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence", subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society". This article clearly provides a right to be free of unlawful searches, but the Court has given the protection for "private and family life" that this article provides a broad interpretation, taking for instance that prohibition of private consensual homosexual acts violates this article. This may be compared to the jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court, which has also adopted a somewhat broad interpretation of the right to privacy. Furthermore, Article 8 sometimes comprises positive obligations: whereas classical human rights are formulated as prohibiting a State from interfering with rights, and thus not to do something (e.g. not to separate a family under family life protection), the effective enjoyment of such rights may also include an obligation for the State to become active, and to do something (e.g. to enforce access for a divorced father to his child).

Article 9 - conscience and religion

Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief, and to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society"

Article 10 - expression

Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society". This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas.

  • Lingens v Austria (1986) 8 EHRR 407
  • The Observer and The Guardian v United Kingdom (1991) 14 EHRR 153, the "Spycatcher" case.
  • Bowman v United Kingdom (1998) 26 EHRR 1
  • Communist Party v Turkey (1998) 26 EHRR 1211
  • Appleby v United Kingdom (2003) 37 EHRR 38

Article 11 - association

Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions, subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society".

  • Vogt v Germany (1995)
  • Yazar, Karatas, Aksoy and Hep v Turkey (2003) 36 EHRR 59

Article 12 - marriage

Article 12 provides a right for women and men of marriageable age to marry and establish a family.

Despite a number of invitations, the Court has so far refused to apply the protections of this article to same-sex marriage. The Court has defended this on the grounds that the article was intended to apply only to different-sex marriage, and that a wide margin of appreciation must be granted to parties in this area.

In Goodwin v United Kingdom the Court ruled that a law which still classified post-operative transsexual persons under their pre-operative sex, violated article 12 as it meant that transsexual persons were unable to marry individuals of their post-operative opposite sex. This reversed an earlier ruling in Rees v United Kingdom. This did not, however, alter the Court's understanding that Article 12 protects only different-sex couples.

Article 13 - effective remedy

Article 13 provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention. The inability to obtain a remedy before a national court for an infringement of a Convention right is thus a free-standing and separately actionable infringement of the Convention.

Article 14 - discrimination

Article 14 contains a prohibition of discrimination. This prohibition is broad in some ways, and narrow in others. On the one hand, the article protects against discrimination based on any of a wide range of grounds. The article provides a list of such grounds, including sex, race, colour, language, religion and several other criteria, and most significantly providing that this list is non-exhaustive. On the other hand, the article's scope is limited only to discrimination with respect to rights under the Convention. Thus, an applicant must prove discrimination in the enjoyment of a specific right that is guaranteed elsewhere in the Convention (e.g. discrimination based on sex - Article 14 - in the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression - Article 10). Protocol 12 extends this prohibition to cover discrimination in any legal right, even when that legal right is not protected under the Convention, so long as it is provided for in national law.

Article 15 - derogations

Article 15 allows contracting states to derogate from certain rights guaranteed by the Convention in time of "war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation". Permissable derogations under article 15 must meet three substantive conditions:

  1. there must be a public emergency threatening the life of the nation;
  2. any measures taken in response must be "strictly required by the exigencies of the situation", and
  3. the measures taken in response to it, must be in compliance with a states other obligations under international law

In addition to these substantive requirements the derogation must be procedurallly sound. The must be some formal announcement of the derogation and notice of the erogation, any measures adopted under it, and the ending of the derogation must be communicated to the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe[11]

The Court is quite permissive in accepting a state's derogations from the Convention but applies a higher degree of scrutiny in deciding whether measures taken by states under a derogation are, in the words or Article 15, "strictly required by the exigencies of the situation". Thus in A v United Kingdom, the Court dismissed a claim that a derogation lodged by the British government in response to the September 11 attacks was invalid, but went on to find that measures taken by the United Kingdom under that derogation were disproportionate.[12]

In order for a derogation itself to be valid, the emergency giving rise to it must be:

  • actual or imminent, although states do not have to wait for disasters to strike before taking preventive measures,[13]
  • involve the whole nation, although this does exclude emergencies which are confined to regions,[14]
  • threaten the continuance of the organised life of the community,[15]
  • exceptional such that measures and restriction permitted by the Convention would be "plainly inadequate" to deal with the emergency.[15]

Article 16 - aliens

Article 16 allows states to restrict the political activity of foreigners. The Court has ruled that European Union member states cannot consider the nationals of other member states to be aliens.[16]

Article 17 - abuse of rights

Article 17 provides that no one may use the rights guaranteed by the Convention to seek the abolition or limitation of rights guaranteed in the Convention. This addresses instances where states seek to restrict a human right in the name of another human right, or where individuals rely on a human right to undermine other human rights (for example where an individual issues a death threat).

Article 18 - permitted restrictions

Article 18 provides that any limitations on the rights provided for in the Convention may be used only for the purpose for which they are provided. For example, Article 5, which guarantees the right to personal freedom, may be explicitly limited in order to bring a suspect before a judge. To use pre-trial detention as a means of intimidation of a person under a false pretext is therefore a limitation of right (to freedom) which does not serve an explicitly provided purpose (to be brought before a judge), and is therefore contrary to Article 18.

Convention protocols

As of January 2010, fifteen protocols to the Convention have been ever opened for signature. These can be divided into two main groups: those changing the machinery of the convention, and those adding additional rights to those protected by the convention. The former require unanimous ratification before coming into force, while the latter are optional protocols which only come into force between ratifying member states (normally after a small threshold of states has been reached).

For the first Protocol, Monaco and Switzerland have signed but never ratified. Andorra has neither signed nor ratified.

Protocol 1, Article 1 - property

Article 1 provides for the rights to the peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions.

Protocol 1, Article 2 - education

Article 2 provides for the right not to be denied an education and the right for parents to have their children educated in accordance with their religious and other views. It does not however guarantee any particular level of education of any particular quality (Belgian linguistic case).

Protocol 1, Article 3 - elections

Article 3 provides for the right to regular, free and fair elections.

Protocol 4 - civil imprisonment, free movement, expulsion

Article 1 prohibits the imprisonment of people for breach of a contract. Article 2 provides for a right to freely move within a country once lawfully there and for a right to leave any country. Article 3 prohibits the expulsion of nationals and provides for the right of an individual to enter a country of his or her nationality. Article 4 prohibits the collective expulsion of foreigners.

Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom have signed but never ratified Protocol 4. Andorra, Greece and Switzerland have neither signed nor ratified this protocol.

Protocol 6 - restriction of death penalty

Requires parties to restrict the application of the death penalty to times of war or "imminent threat of war".

Every Council of Europe member state has signed and ratified Protocol 6, except Russia who has signed but not ratified.[17]

Protocol 7 - crime and family

  • Article 1 provides for a right to fair procedures for lawfully resident foreigners facing expulsion.
  • Article 2 provides for the right to appeal in criminal matters.
  • Article 3 provides for compensation for the victims of miscarriages of justice.
  • Article 4 prohibits the re-trial of anyone who has already been finally acquitted or convicted of a particular offence (Double jeopardy).
  • Article 5 provides for equality between spouses.

Despite having signed the protocol more than twenty years ago, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey have never ratified it. The United Kingdom has neither signed nor ratified the protocol.

Protocol 12 - discrimination

Applies the current expansive and indefinite grounds of prohibited discrimination in Article 14 to the exercise of any legal right and to the actions (including the obligations) of public authorities.

The Protocol entered into force on 1 April 2005 and has (As of July 2009) been ratified by 17 member states. Several member states — namely Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — have not signed the protocol.[18]

The United Kingdom Government has declined to sign Protocol 12 on the basis that they believe the wording of protocol is too wide and would result in a flood of new cases testing the extent of the new provision. They believe that the phrase "rights set forth by law" might include international conventions to which the UK is not a party, and would result in incorporation of these instruments by stealth. It has been suggested that the protocol is therefore in a kind of catch-22, since the UK will decline to either sign or ratify the protocol until the European Court of Human Rights has addressed the meaning of the provision, while the court is hindered in doing so by the lack of applications to the court concerning the protocol caused by the decisions of Europe's most populous states — including the UK — not to ratify the protocol. The UK Government, nevertheless, "agrees in principle that the ECHR should contain a provision against discrimination that is free-standing and not parasitic on the other Convention rights".[19] The first judgment finding a violation of Protocol No. 12 was delivered in 2009 — Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Hercegovina

Protocol 13 - complete abolition of death penalty

Provides for the total abolition of the death penalty.[20]

Procedural and institutional protocols

The Convention's provisions affecting institutional and procedural matters has been altered several times by mean of protocols. These amendments have, with of the exception of Protocol 2, amended the text of the convention. Protocol 2 did not amend the text of the convention as such, but stipulated that it was to be treated as an integral part of the text. All of these protocols have required the unanimous ratification of all the member states of the Council of Europe to enter into force.

Protocol 11

Protocols 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 and 10 have now been superseded by Protocol 11 which entered into force on 1 November 1998.[21] It established a fundamental change in the machinery of the convention. It abolished the Commission, allowing individuals to apply directly to the Court, which was given compulsory jurisdiction and altered the latter's structure. Previously states could ratify the Convention without accepting the jurisdiction of the Court of Human Rights. The protocol also abolished the judicial functions of the Committee of Ministers.

Protocol 14

Protocol 14 follows on from Protocol 11 in proposing to further improving the efficiency of the Court. It seeks to "filter" out cases that have less chance of succeeding along with those that are broadly similar to cases brought previously against the same member state. Furthermore a case will not be considered admissible where an applicant has not suffered a "significant disadvantage". This latter ground can only be used when an examination of the application on the merits is not considered necessary and where the subject-matter of the application had already been considered by a national court.

A new mechanism would be introduced with Protocol 14 to assist enforcement of judgements by the Committee of Ministers. The Committee can ask the Court for an interpretation of a judgement and can even bring a member state before the Court for non-compliance of a previous judgement against that state.

Protocol 14 would also allow for European Union accession to the Convention.

The protocol has been signed by every Council of Europe member state except Russia. It can only come into force only when it has been ratified by all Council of Europe member states.

A provisional Protocol 14bis was opened for signature in 2009.[22] Pending the ratification of Protocol 14 itself, 14bis allows the Court to implement revised procedures in respect of the states which have ratified it. It allows single judges to reject manifestly inadmissible applications made against the states who have ratified the protocol. It also extends the competence of three-judge chambers to declare applications made against those states admissible and to decide on their merits where there already is a well-established case law of the Court. Protocol 14bis will cease to have any effect should Protocol 14 be ratified.

Citation

The ECHR may be cited in academic works in a number of ways. The European Treaty Series citation is "Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ETS 5, Article 1, para 2" for the second paragraph of the first article. Citation of the treaty is never by page number.[23]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Council of Europe should not be confused with the Council of the European Union or the European Council. The European Union is not a party to the Convention and has no role in the administration of the European Court of Human Rights.
  2. ^ Resolution 1031 (1994) on the honouring of commitments entered into by member states when joining the Council of Europe
  3. ^ (1995) 21 EHRR 97
  4. ^ (1995) 21 EHRR 97 at para. 148
  5. ^ Jacobs & White, p. 56
  6. ^ Chahal v. United Kingdom (1997) 23 EHRR 413.
  7. ^ Chahal v. United Kingdom (1997) 23 EHRR 413; Soering v. United Kingdom (1989) 11 EHRR 439.
  8. ^ Ireland v. United Kingdom (1979-80) 2 EHRR 25.
  9. ^ Aksoy v. Turkey (1997) 23 EHRR 553. The process was referred to by the Court as "Palestinian hanging" but more commonly known as Strappado.
  10. ^ Selmouni v. France (2000) 29 EHRR 403 at para. 101.
  11. ^ Article 15(3).
  12. ^ [2009] ECHR 301 paras. 181 and 190.
  13. ^ A v United Kingdom [2009] ECHR 301 para. 177.
  14. ^ Aksoy v. Turkey (1997) 23 EHRR 553 para 70.
  15. ^ a b Greek case (1969) 12 YB 1 at 71-72, paras. 152-154.
  16. ^ In Piermont v. France 27 April 1995, 314 ECHR (series A).
  17. ^ Russia enshrines ban on death penalty.
  18. ^ Information on the current state of the protocol.
  19. ^ 2004 UK Government's position
  20. ^ "Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances". Council of Europe. http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/187.htm. Retrieved 27 June 2008.  
  21. ^ "List of the treaties coming from the subject-matter: Human Rights (Convention and Protocols only)". http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeTraites.asp?MA=3&CM=7&CL=ENG. Retrieved 21 February 2009.  
  22. ^ Protocol No. 14bis to the ECHR
  23. ^ "Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms". Electronic Information System for International Law. 22 October 2007. http://www.eisil.org/index.php?sid=492188715&id=683&t=link_details&cat=211. Retrieved 22 October 2007.  

Further reading

  • Ovey, Clare; White, Robin C. A. (2006). Jacobs & White: The European Convention on Human Rights (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-928810-0.  

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.— Excerpted from European Convention on Human Rights on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Contents

Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11

Rome, 4.XI.1950

The text of the Convention had been amended according to the provisions of Protocol No. 3 (ETS No. 45), which entered into force on 21 September 1970, of Protocol No. 5 (ETS No. 55), which entered into force on 20 December 1971 and of Protocol No. 8 (ETS No. 118), which entered into force on 1 January 1990, and comprised also the text of Protocol No. 2 (ETS No. 44) which, in accordance with Article 5, paragraph 3 thereof, had been an integral part of the Convention since its entry into force on 21 September 1970. All provisions which had been amended or added by these Protocols are replaced by Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155), as from the date of its entry into force on 1 November 1998. As from that date, Protocol No. 9 (ETS No. 140), which entered into force on 1 October 1994, is repealed and Protocol No. 10 (ETS No. 146) has lost its purpose.


The governments signatory hereto, being members of the Council of Europe,

Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948;

Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared;

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is the achievement of greater unity between its members and that one of the methods by which that aim is to be pursued is the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Reaffirming their profound belief in those fundamental freedoms which are the foundation of justice and peace in the world and are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend;

Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1 – Obligation to respect human rights ¹

The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.

Section I – Rights and freedoms ¹

Article 2 – Right to life¹

  1. Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
  2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
    1. in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
    2. in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
    3. in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.

Article 3 – Prohibition of torture¹

No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour¹

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  3. For the purpose of this article the term "forced or compulsory labour" shall not include:
    1. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
    2. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
    3. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
    4. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

Article 5 – Right to liberty and security¹

  1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
    1. the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
    2. the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
    3. the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
    4. the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
    5. the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;
    6. the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.
  2. Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.
  3. Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1.c of this article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.
  4. Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
  5. Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

Article 6 – Right to a fair trial¹

  1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
  2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
  3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
    1. to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
    2. to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;
    3. to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;
    4. to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
    5. to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

Article 7 – No punishment without law¹

  1. No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed.
  2. This article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations.

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life¹

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion¹

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
  2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 10 – Freedom of expression¹

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association¹

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
  2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

Article 12 – Right to marry¹

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.

Article 13 – Right to an effective remedy¹

Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

Article 14 – Prohibition of discrimination¹

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

Article 15 – Derogation in time of emergency¹

  1. In time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation any High Contracting Party may take measures derogating from its obligations under this Convention to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law.
  2. No derogation from Article 2, except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war, or from Articles 3, 4 (paragraph 1) and 7 shall be made under this provision.
  3. Any High Contracting Party availing itself of this right of derogation shall keep the Secretary General of the Council of Europe fully informed of the measures which it has taken and the reasons therefor. It shall also inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe when such measures have ceased to operate and the provisions of the Convention are again being fully executed.

Article 16 – Restrictions on political activity of aliens¹

Nothing in Articles 10, 11 and 14 shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens.

Article 17 – Prohibition of abuse of rights¹

Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.

Article 18 – Limitation on use of restrictions on rights¹

The restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.

Section II – European Court of Human Rights²

Article 19 – Establishment of the Court

To ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the High Contracting Parties in the Convention and the Protocols thereto, there shall be set up a European Court of Human Rights, hereinafter referred to as "the Court". It shall function on a permanent basis.

Article 20 – Number of judges

The Court shall consist of a number of judges equal to that of the High Contracting Parties.

Article 21 – Criteria for office

  1. The judges shall be of high moral character and must either possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or be jurisconsults of recognised competence.
  2. The judges shall sit on the Court in their individual capacity.
  3. During their term of office the judges shall not engage in any activity which is incompatible with their independence, impartiality or with the demands of a full-time office; all questions arising from the application of this paragraph shall be decided by the Court.

Article 22 – Election of judges

  1. The judges shall be elected by the Parliamentary Assembly with respect to each High Contracting Party by a majority of votes cast from a list of three candidates nominated by the High Contracting Party.
  2. The same procedure shall be followed to complete the Court in the event of the accession of new High Contracting Parties and in filling casual vacancies.

Article 23 – Terms of office

  1. The judges shall be elected for a period of six years. They may be re-elected. However, the terms of office of one-half of the judges elected at the first election shall expire at the end of three years.
  2. The judges whose terms of office are to expire at the end of the initial period of three years shall be chosen by lot by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe immediately after their election.
  3. In order to ensure that, as far as possible, the terms of office of one-half of the judges are renewed every three years, the Parliamentary Assembly may decide, before proceeding to any subsequent election, that the term or terms of office of one or more judges to be elected shall be for a period other than six years but not more than nine and not less than three years.
  4. In cases where more than one term of office is involved and where the Parliamentary Assembly applies the preceding paragraph, the allocation of the terms of office shall be effected by a drawing of lots by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe immediately after the election.
  5. A judge elected to replace a judge whose term of office has not expired shall hold office for the remainder of his predecessor's term.
  6. The terms of office of judges shall expire when they reach the age of 70.
  7. The judges shall hold office until replaced. They shall, however, continue to deal with such cases as they already have under consideration.

Article 24 – Dismissal

No judge may be dismissed from his office unless the other judges decide by a majority of two-thirds that he has ceased to fulfil the required conditions.

Article 25 – Registry and legal secretaries

The Court shall have a registry, the functions and organisation of which shall be laid down in the rules of the Court. The Court shall be assisted by legal secretaries.

Article 26 – Plenary Court

The plenary Court shall:

  1. elect its President and one or two Vice-Presidents for a period of three years; they may be re-elected;
  2. set up Chambers, constituted for a fixed period of time;
  3. elect the Presidents of the Chambers of the Court; they may be re-elected;
  4. adopt the rules of the Court, and
  5. elect the Registrar and one or more Deputy Registrars.

Article 27 – Committees, Chambers and Grand Chamber

  1. To consider cases brought before it, the Court shall sit in committees of three judges, in Chambers of seven judges and in a Grand Chamber of seventeen judges. The Court's Chambers shall set up committees for a fixed period of time.
  2. There shall sit as an ex officio member of the Chamber and the Grand Chamber the judge elected in respect of the State Party concerned or, if there is none or if he is unable to sit, a person of its choice who shall sit in the capacity of judge.
  3. The Grand Chamber shall also include the President of the Court, the Vice-Presidents, the Presidents of the Chambers and other judges chosen in accordance with the rules of the Court. When a case is referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43, no judge from the Chamber which rendered the judgment shall sit in the Grand Chamber, with the exception of the President of the Chamber and the judge who sat in respect of the State Party concerned.

Article 28 – Declarations of inadmissibility by committees

A committee may, by a unanimous vote, declare inadmissible or strike out of its list of cases an application submitted under Article 34 where such a decision can be taken without further examination. The decision shall be final.

Article 29 – Decisions by Chambers on admissibility and merits

  1. If no decision is taken under Article 28, a Chamber shall decide on the admissibility and merits of individual applications submitted under Article 34.
  2. A Chamber shall decide on the admissibility and merits of inter-State applications submitted under Article 33.
  3. The decision on admissibility shall be taken separately unless the Court, in exceptional cases, decides otherwise.

Article 30 – Relinquishment of jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber

Where a case pending before a Chamber raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention or the protocols thereto, or where the resolution of a question before the Chamber might have a result inconsistent with a judgment previously delivered by the Court, the Chamber may, at any time before it has rendered its judgment, relinquish jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber, unless one of the parties to the case objects.

Article 31 – Powers of the Grand Chamber

The Grand Chamber shall:

  1. determine applications submitted either under Article 33 or Article 34 when a Chamber has relinquished jurisdiction under Article 30 or when the case has been referred to it under Article 43; and
  2. consider requests for advisory opinions submitted under Article 47.

Article 32 – Jurisdiction of the Court

  1. The jurisdiction of the Court shall extend to all matters concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention and the protocols thereto which are referred to it as provided in Articles 33, 34 and 47.
  2. In the event of dispute as to whether the Court has jurisdiction, the Court shall decide.

Article 33 – Inter-State cases

Any High Contracting Party may refer to the Court any alleged breach of the provisions of the Convention and the protocols thereto by another High Contracting Party.

Article 34 – Individual applications

Chart of Declarations under former Articles 25 and 46 of the ECHR

The Court may receive applications from any person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the protocols thereto. The High Contracting Parties undertake not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of this right.

Article 35 – Admissibility criteria

  1. The Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the generally recognised rules of international law, and within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken.
  2. The Court shall not deal with any application submitted under Article 34 that:
    1. is anonymous; or
    2. is substantially the same as a matter that has already been examined by the Court or has already been submitted to another procedure of international investigation or settlement and contains no relevant new information.
  3. The Court shall declare inadmissible any individual application submitted under Article 34 which it considers incompatible with the provisions of the Convention or the protocols thereto, manifestly ill-founded, or an abuse of the right of application.
  4. The Court shall reject any application which it considers inadmissible under this Article. It may do so at any stage of the proceedings.

Article 36 – Third party intervention

  1. In all cases before a Chamber or the Grand Chamber, a High Contracting Party one of whose nationals is an applicant shall have the right to submit written comments and to take part in hearings.
  2. The President of the Court may, in the interest of the proper administration of justice, invite any High Contracting Party which is not a party to the proceedings or any person concerned who is not the applicant to submit written comments or take part in hearings.

Article 37 – Striking out applications

  1. The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that:
    1. the applicant does not intend to pursue his application; or
    2. the matter has been resolved; or
    3. for any other reason established by the Court, it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application.
However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the protocols thereto so requires.
  1. The Court may decide to restore an application to its list of cases if it considers that the circumstances justify such a course.

Article 38 – Examination of the case and friendly settlement proceedings

  1. If the Court declares the application admissible, it shall:
    1. pursue the examination of the case, together with the representatives of the parties, and if need be, undertake an investigation, for the effective conduct of which the States concerned shall furnish all necessary facilities;
    2. place itself at the disposal of the parties concerned with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the matter on the basis of respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the protocols thereto.
  2. Proceedings conducted under paragraph 1.b shall be confidential.

Article 39 – Finding of a friendly settlement

If a friendly settlement is effected, the Court shall strike the case out of its list by means of a decision which shall be confined to a brief statement of the facts and of the solution reached.

Article 40 – Public hearings and access to documents

  1. Hearings shall be in public unless the Court in exceptional circumstances decides otherwise.
  2. Documents deposited with the Registrar shall be accessible to the public unless the President of the Court decides otherwise.

Article 41 – Just satisfaction

If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.

Article 42 – Judgments of Chambers

Judgments of Chambers shall become final in accordance with the provisions of Article 44, paragraph 2.

Article 43 – Referral to the Grand Chamber

  1. Within a period of three months from the date of the judgment of the Chamber, any party to the case may, in exceptional cases, request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber.
  2. A panel of five judges of the Grand Chamber shall accept the request if the case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the Convention or the protocols thereto, or a serious issue of general importance.
  3. If the panel accepts the request, the Grand Chamber shall decide the case by means of a judgment.

Article 44 – Final judgments

  1. The judgment of the Grand Chamber shall be final.
  2. The judgment of a Chamber shall become final:
    1. when the parties declare that they will not request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber; or
    2. three months after the date of the judgment, if reference of the case to the Grand Chamber has not been requested; or
    3. when the panel of the Grand Chamber rejects the request to refer under Article 43.
  3. The final judgment shall be published.

Article 45 – Reasons for judgments and decisions

  1. Reasons shall be given for judgments as well as for decisions declaring applications admissible or inadmissible.
  2. If a judgment does not represent, in whole or in part, the unanimous opinion of the judges, any judge shall be entitled to deliver a separate opinion.

Article 46 – Binding force and execution of judgments

  1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.
  2. The final judgment of the Court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which shall supervise its execution.

Article 47 – Advisory opinions

  1. The Court may, at the request of the Committee of Ministers, give advisory opinions on legal questions concerning the interpretation of the Convention and the protocols thereto.
  2. Such opinions shall not deal with any question relating to the content or scope of the rights or freedoms defined in Section I of the Convention and the protocols thereto, or with any other question which the Court or the Committee of Ministers might have to consider in consequence of any such proceedings as could be instituted in accordance with the Convention.
  3. Decisions of the Committee of Ministers to request an advisory opinion of the Court shall require a majority vote of the representatives entitled to sit on the Committee.

Article 48 – Advisory jurisdiction of the Court

The Court shall decide whether a request for an advisory opinion submitted by the Committee of Ministers is within its competence as defined in Article 47.

Article 49 – Reasons for advisory opinions

  1. Reasons shall be given for advisory opinions of the Court.
  2. If the advisory opinion does not represent, in whole or in part, the unanimous opinion of the judges, any judge shall be entitled to deliver a separate opinion.
  3. Advisory opinions of the Court shall be communicated to the Committee of Ministers.

Article 50 – Expenditure on the Court

The expenditure on the Court shall be borne by the Council of Europe.

Article 51 – Privileges and immunities of judges

The judges shall be entitled, during the exercise of their functions, to the privileges and immunities provided for in Article 40 of the Statute of the Council of Europe and in the agreements made thereunder.

Section III – Miscellaneous provisions ¹ ³

Article 52 – Inquiries by the Secretary General¹

On receipt of a request from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe any High Contracting Party shall furnish an explanation of the manner in which its internal law ensures the effective implementation of any of the provisions of the Convention.

Article 53 – Safeguard for existing human rights¹

Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as limiting or derogating from any of the human rights and fundamental freedoms which may be ensured under the laws of any High Contracting Party or under any other agreement to which it is a Party.

Article 54 – Powers of the Committee of Ministers¹

Nothing in this Convention shall prejudice the powers conferred on the Committee of Ministers by the Statute of the Council of Europe.

Article 55 – Exclusion of other means of dispute settlement¹

The High Contracting Parties agree that, except by special agreement, they will not avail themselves of treaties, conventions or declarations in force between them for the purpose of submitting, by way of petition, a dispute arising out of the interpretation or application of this Convention to a means of settlement other than those provided for in this Convention.

Article 56 – Territorial application¹

  1. 4Any State may at the time of its ratification or at any time thereafter declare by notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe that the present Convention shall, subject to paragraph 4 of this Article, extend to all or any of the territories for whose international relations it is responsible.
  2. The Convention shall extend to the territory or territories named in the notification as from the thirtieth day after the receipt of this notification by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
  3. The provisions of this Convention shall be applied in such territories with due regard, however, to local requirements.
  4. 4Any State which has made a declaration in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article may at any time thereafter declare on behalf of one or more of the territories to which the declaration relates that it accepts the competence of the Court to receive applications from individuals, non-governmental organisations or groups of individuals as provided by Article 34 of the Convention.

Article 57 – Reservations¹

  1. Any State may, when signing this Convention or when depositing its instrument of ratification, make a reservation in respect of any particular provision of the Convention to the extent that any law then in force in its territory is not in conformity with the provision. Reservations of a general character shall not be permitted under this article.
  2. Any reservation made under this article shall contain a brief statement of the law concerned.

Article 58 – Denunciation ¹

  1. A High Contracting Party may denounce the present Convention only after the expiry of five years from the date on which it became a party to it and after six months' notice contained in a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who shall inform the other High Contracting Parties.
  2. Such a denunciation shall not have the effect of releasing the High Contracting Party concerned from its obligations under this Convention in respect of any act which, being capable of constituting a violation of such obligations, may have been performed by it before the date at which the denunciation became effective.
  3. Any High Contracting Party which shall cease to be a member of the Council of Europe shall cease to be a Party to this Convention under the same conditions.
  4. 4The Convention may be denounced in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraphs in respect of any territory to which it has been declared to extend under the terms of Article 56.

Article 59 – Signature and ratification ¹

  1. This Convention shall be open to the signature of the members of the Council of Europe. It shall be ratified. Ratifications shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
  2. The present Convention shall come into force after the deposit of ten instruments of ratification.
  3. As regards any signatory ratifying subsequently, the Convention shall come into force at the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification.
  4. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe shall notify all the members of the Council of Europe of the entry into force of the Convention, the names of the High Contracting Parties who have ratified it, and the deposit of all instruments of ratification which may be effected subsequently.

Done at Rome this 4th day of November 1950, in English and French, both texts being equally authentic, in a single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Council of Europe. The Secretary General shall transmit certified copies to each of the signatories.


¹ Heading added according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155).
² New Section II according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155).
³ The articles of this Section are renumbered according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155).
4 Text amended according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155)

Simple English

Countries, which are members of the Council of Europe agreed on certain points written in a document to ensure human rights written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These points became the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In its shorter form it is European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Convention also established the European Court of Human Rights (ECoHR), and the sentence od this Court has a force legal power by its Article 46.

ECHR had made many protocols. Protocols are set of rules. All member countries must follow these rules.

The ECoHR can give decisions on complaints or cases, which come to it. If a person thinks that a European country has abused his or her human rights, that person may take the matter to the judges of ECoHR. The judges will listen to the complaint and give their decisions. These decisions must be followed by the governments of the countries.

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