Article 2 echr

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) enshrines the fundamental Right to Life, providing essential protection to individuals against unlawful deprivation of life by public authorities. As a core component of the ECHR, the Right to Life is central to European human rights law and jurisprudence. This comprehensive guide will delve into the key elements of Article 2 ECHR, examining its scope and exceptions, as well as the positive and negative obligations it imposes on states. Explore significant case law and legal debates surrounding the Right to Life, including the controversial aspects such as euthanasia and the balance between state sovereignty and individual rights. Furthermore, gain insights into the criteria for awarding damages in cases of Article 2 ECHR violations and examine the practical implications of this essential provision for both states and individuals.

Article 2 echr Article 2 echr

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Table of contents

    An Introduction to Article 2 ECHR: The Right to Life

    Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a fundamental provision that sets out the right to life. This right is paramount to the functioning of a democratic society and is one of the most important human rights within the ECHR. In order to get a better understanding of Article 2, its key elements must be closely examined, which include positive and negative obligations, as well as the scope and exceptions of this right.

    The Key Elements of Article 2 ECHR Right to Life

    When addressing Article 2 ECHR, it is critical to outline the key elements that contribute to upholding this vital human right. These elements generally include the following:

    • Legal protection of life
    • Prohibition of intentional killings
    • Obligations on the state

    Firstly, Article 2 ECHR imposes an obligation on authorities to provide adequate legal protection of life. This implies that states should have suitable laws in place to safeguard individual lives. Furthermore, any harm or loss of life caused by the state must be accounted for and investigated thoroughly.

    Secondly, the prohibition of intentional killings is a core element of Article 2. This prohibition encompasses not only intentional murder but also cases of excessive use of force or gross negligence involving loss of life.

    Intentional killings: Actions that are deliberately taken with the aim of causing another person’s death.

    Lastly, the obligations on the state under Article 2 are more than the mere enactment of laws and regulations. States are required to take appropriate measures to prevent foreseeable threats to the right to life. These measures may include educational programs, infrastructural developments and more.

    Positive and Negative Obligations in Article 2 ECHR

    Article 2 ECHR distinguishes between positive and negative obligations for states. Positive obligations require states to take active measures to ensure the protection of the right to life, while negative obligations correspond to duties to decline from certain actions that may lead to loss of life.

    Positive obligations: Active measures that a state must engage in to protect the right to life, such as maintaining effective laws, preventing foreseeable harm, and investigating cases of life-threatening incidents.

    Negative obligations: Duties incumbent upon a state to abstain from actions that would violate the right to life, such as intentionally killing someone without legal justification.

    Both positive and negative obligations are crucial for the proper functioning of Article 2 ECHR. Neglecting either side of these obligations may result in violations of the right to life and, consequently, undermine the core principles of the ECHR.

    Scope and Exceptions of Article 2 ECHR

    While Article 2 ECHR aims to protect the right to life, there are circumstances under which this protection may not apply or may be limited due to specific exceptions. The scope of Article 2 refers to the situations in which the provision is applicable, whereas the exceptions delineate cases in which the right to life may be legitimately restricted or infringed upon.

    The scope of Article 2 encompasses a broad range of circumstances beyond intentional killings, including situations such as:

    • Deaths resulting from law enforcement operations
    • Lethal use of force during arrest or detention
    • Deaths in custody
    • Life-threatening illnesses requiring medical treatment
    • Protection of the environment and public health

    Despite its broad scope, Article 2 ECHR recognises three primary exceptions that allow for a state to take life under certain conditions. These exceptions involve:

    1. Defence of any person from unlawful violence
    2. Lawful arrest or prevention of escape from a lawful detention order
    3. Action lawfully taken to quell a riot or insurgency

    For instance, if a police officer uses lethal force to protect an innocent person from an armed attacker, this action may fall under the first exception of Article 2 ECHR.

    It is essential to note that the exceptions provided by Article 2 are subject to strict limitations and must always remain proportionate and necessary in the specific circumstances.

    Examining Article 2 ECHR Case Law

    A thorough examination of Article 2 ECHR case law is essential to understand how the right to life has been interpreted and applied by courts and how various elements and principles have been developed through legal judgments. Both domestic cases and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings provide valuable insights into how Article 2 ECHR has evolved in practice over time.

    Key Cases on the Right to Life under Article 2 ECHR

    Over the years, numerous cases have shaped the understanding and application of Article 2 ECHR. These cases have concerned diverse situations, from use of force by law enforcement to medical treatment decisions. The following key cases are particularly important for grasping the evolving nature of the right to life under Article 2 ECHR.

    The Application of Article 2 ECHR in Domestic Cases

    Domestic courts play a vital role in ensuring that Article 2 ECHR is applied appropriately within the context of national legal systems. Some noteworthy examples of domestic cases addressing the right to life under Article 2 ECHR are:

    • R (Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2003] UKHL 51: This case established that domestic authorities must conduct an effective official investigation when an individual dies in custody due to the state's negligence. Failure to carry out a proper investigation violates Article 2 ECHR's procedural obligations.
    • Re MB (medical treatment) [1997] 2 FLR 426: In this case, the court decided that medical treatment decisions should be taken in the best interests of the patient and that withholding life-sustaining treatment may be lawful under Article 2 if prolonging the patient's life would harm their best interests.
    • Osman v UK (1998) 29 EHRR 245: This case clarified the positive obligation on the state to provide effective protections to persons at risk from criminal violence. Failure to take reasonable measures to safeguard such persons can result in violation of Article 2 ECHR.

    These domestic cases show how courts have applied Article 2 ECHR in diverse situations, balancing the right to life with other competing interests such as individual autonomy, public interest, and resource management.

    Significant European Court of Human Rights Rulings

    In addition to domestic case law, rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have significantly contributed to the doctrinal development surrounding Article 2 ECHR. Some landmark ECtHR cases in this regard include:

    • McCann v United Kingdom, App. No. 18984/91 (1995): This case concerned the fatal shooting of three individuals by the British military in Gibraltar. The ECtHR emphasised the importance of necessity and proportionality when using lethal force by state agents, holding that the killings violated Article 2 ECHR due to a lack of proper planning and control.
    • Lopes de Sousa Fernandes v Portugal, App. No. 56080/13 (2017): The ECtHR held that states must ensure an effective regulatory framework for the provision of healthcare services and regulate medical professionals' negligence that may jeopardise the right to life. However, not every medical mistake resulting in loss of life amounts to an Article 2 violation.
    • Armani da Silva v United Kingdom, App. No. 5878/08 (2016): The court clarified the standard of proof necessary in cases of alleged unlawful killings. In this case, the ECtHR found that there was no violation of Article 2, as the domestic authorities had sufficiently addressed the use of lethal force and conducted an effective investigation.

    These noteworthy ECtHR rulings transcend the boundaries of individual states and ensure a consistent and unified approach to Article 2 ECHR in the broader European context. The court's decisions contribute not only to the evolution of the right to life under Article 2 ECHR but also to the harmonisation of human rights standards across Council of Europe member states.

    Article 2 ECHR Criticism and Debates

    Despite its fundamental importance in safeguarding human rights, Article 2 ECHR has faced criticism and sparked debates over some of its controversial aspects. These debates mainly revolve around issues such as euthanasia and assisted suicide, as well as the balancing of state sovereignty and individual rights.

    Controversial Aspects of Article 2 ECHR Right to Life

    The interpretation and application of Article 2 ECHR have resulted in ongoing legal and ethical debates over the extent of its protection and its relation to other competing rights and societal values. Two of the most contested areas concerning the right to life under Article 2 are euthanasia and assisted suicide, as well as the delicate balance between state sovereignty and individual rights.

    The Debate Surrounding Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

    Euthanasia and assisted suicide are among the most contentious issues under Article 2 ECHR, due to the ethical, legal, and moral considerations they involve. While the right to life guarantees the protection and reverence for human life, the debate surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide questions whether individuals also have the right to choose the manner and time of their own deaths under certain circumstances, such as terminal illness or unbearable suffering.

    Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that respecting individual autonomy and the right to die with dignity should be considered as part of the right to life. They contend that, under certain strict conditions, euthanasia and assisted suicide should be allowed as exceptions to the prohibition of intentional killing under Article 2 ECHR.

    Meanwhile, opponents argue that allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide would undermine the sanctity of life and lead to a slippery slope where vulnerable individuals might face pressure to end their lives prematurely. Furthermore, they maintain that the state's obligation to protect human life must prevail over personal choices in life-ending decisions.

    European Court of Human Rights case law, such as Pretty v United Kingdom (2002) and Lambert v France (2015), has held that Article 2 does not encompass a right to die through euthanasia or assisted suicide. However, the court has also recognised the importance of respecting individual autonomy in end-of-life decisions, provided that adequate safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable individuals and ensure proper decision-making processes.

    Balancing State Sovereignty and Individual Rights

    Another aspect of the debate surrounding Article 2 ECHR concerns the balance between state sovereignty and individual rights within the framework of safeguarding the right to life. States undoubtedly have a primary role in securing and preserving human life, but a critical question arises about the extent to which they should intervene in the affairs of individuals and the potential implications on other competing rights and values.

    One example of this tension is the debate over the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers. While states have a duty to maintain public safety and protect citizens from harm, the exercise of coercive powers can sometimes raise concerns over potential human rights violations, particularly the right to life. States must always ensure that the use of lethal force by their agents complies with the principles of necessity, proportionality, and legal certainty.

    Similarly, the issue of state accountability and transparency in cases of alleged violations of the right to life may sometimes conflict with concerns over state secrecy and national security interests. It is crucial for states to strike the right balance between their obligations under Article 2 ECHR and other competing imperatives.

    Navigating these dilemmas can be challenging, and the European Court of Human Rights often plays a pivotal role in interpreting and applying Article 2 ECHR in situations where state sovereignty and individual rights must be balanced. By establishing legal standards and principles, the court strives to ensure that the protection of the right to life remains at the forefront of states' actions, while simultaneously respecting other legitimate interests and values.

    Article 2 ECHR Damages: Compensation for Violations

    When a violation of Article 2 ECHR occurs, victims and their families may seek compensation for the harm suffered and the infringement of their right to life. This section delves into the process of seeking compensation in cases of Article 2 ECHR violations, the criteria for awarding damages, and examples of damages awarded in prominent cases.

    Seeking Compensation in Cases of Article 2 ECHR Violations

    Compensation in cases of Article 2 ECHR violations can be pursued through domestic legal proceedings or by lodging an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) once all domestic remedies have been exhausted. Both avenues involve different procedural requirements, time limits, and legal principles. As a result, it is essential to understand the complexities and challenges associated with each route for seeking damages.

    Domestic remedies: Legal actions or procedures pursued within a country's national judicial system to obtain redress for alleged human rights violations.

    In domestic proceedings, victims of Article 2 ECHR violations may seek compensation through civil claims for wrongful death or negligence, or rely on the findings of a public inquiry, inquest, or ombudsman report. Claimants must adhere to the procedural rules and time limits applicable to their specific legal system.

    Alternatively, applicants can bring their case before the ECtHR when domestic remedies have proven ineffective or have not provided adequate redress. The ECtHR procedure follows its own set of rules and time limits, such as submitting an application within six months from the date of the final domestic decision.

    The Criteria for Awarding Damages in Article 2 ECHR Cases

    Whether damages are sought domestically or before the ECtHR, several criteria must be considered when awarding compensation for violations of Article 2 ECHR. These criteria include:

    • Causation: A clear causal link must be established between the state's actions or omissions and the violation of the right to life.
    • Loss and damage: Claimants must demonstrate the nature and extent of the harm suffered, which can include pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages such as loss of earnings, emotional distress, and funeral expenses.
    • Proportionality: The amount of damages awarded should be proportionate to the severity of the violation and the harm suffered by the claimant.
    • Just satisfaction: In cases brought before the ECtHR, damages should aim to provide "just satisfaction" for the claimant, which may include financial compensation, acknowledgement of the violation, and potential measures to address the root causes of the violation.

    Each jurisdiction may apply its own distinct rules and principles when assessing damages in Article 2 ECHR cases. However, it is essential that the compensation provided sufficiently reflects the magnitude of the violation and adequately addresses the victim's suffering and loss.

    Examples of Damages Awarded in Prominent Cases

    Over the years, there have been several prominent cases that demonstrate the range of damages awarded in response to Article 2 ECHR violations. A few notable examples include:

    • McCann and Others v United Kingdom, App. No. 18984/91 (1995): In this case about the fatal shooting of three individuals by the British military in Gibraltar, the ECtHR awarded the victims' families a total of £38,700 in pecuniary damages and £105,000 in non-pecuniary damages, which covered loss of earnings and mental anguish suffered by the families.
    • Vo v France, App. No. 53924/00 (2004): The applicant sought damages for the death of her unborn child due to a medical error. The ECtHR noted that domestic authorities had provided adequate compensation in the form of a settlement, which granted the applicant €20,000 in damages for non-pecuniary loss.
    • Oneryildiz v Turkey, App. No. 48939/99 (2004): In this case involving a methane gas explosion at a landfill site that resulted in multiple fatalities, the ECtHR awarded the applicants varying amounts of compensation, ranging from €15,000 to €50,000 for non-pecuniary damages and €2,000 to €43,000 for pecuniary damages, depending on the extent of their loss and suffering.

    These cases demonstrate the variability of damages awarded in Article 2 ECHR cases, as compensation is determined based on the specific facts of each case, the nature of the violation, and the extent of the resulting harm and losses suffered by the victims or their families.

    The Comprehensive Guide to Article 2 ECHR

    Understanding the comprehensive aspects of Article 2 ECHR requires in-depth examination of its legal text and the roles of relevant institutions, as well as assessing the practical implications it has on states and individuals. In this section, we delve into the legal text of Article 2 ECHR, explore the role of the European Court of Human Rights, and analyse the practical implications for states and individuals.

    Understanding the Legal Text of Article 2 ECHR

    To comprehend the legal text of Article 2 ECHR, it is important to dissect the provisions and analyse their objectives and implications. The Article enshrines the right to life while outlining the duties that states must undertake to protect this right. Here are the key components covered within the legal text of Article 2:

    • The fundamental right to life as a core principle
    • Prohibition of intentional killings
    • Exceptions and limitations pertaining to the circumstances under which states may take life
    • Positive and negative obligations incumbent upon states to safeguard the right to life

    The legal text of Article 2 ECHR sketches a framework which states must adhere to in order to ensure the protection of the right to life. Understanding the nuances of this text equips one with the ability to examine the implications of this right on domestic and international levels and how it affects the functioning of various institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.

    The Role of the European Court of Human Rights

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) plays a pivotal role in the interpretation and application of Article 2 ECHR. In providing a forum for the resolution of human rights disputes, the ECtHR fulfils several crucial functions, such as:

    • Adjudicating individual and inter-state applications alleging violations of Article 2 ECHR
    • Developing jurisprudence through its case-law, shaping the standards, exceptions, and obligations under Article 2 ECHR
    • Issuing binding judgments on states for violations of the right to life, whilst offering guidance on remedies and preventative measures
    • Ensuring that states take appropriate actions to guarantee the right to life domestically, including enacting necessary legislation and conducting effective investigations

    Through its expansive role, the ECtHR contributes towards the harmonisation of human rights standards across Council of Europe member states by maintaining a consistent approach to Article 2 ECHR and ensuring that states diligently fulfil their obligations to protect the right to life.

    Practical Implications of Article 2 ECHR for States and Individuals

    Article 2 ECHR bears numerous practical implications for both states and individuals. For states, upholding the right to life entails diverse obligations and responsibilities:

    • Legislating and implementing adequate legal protections for the right to life
    • Ensuring efficient investigation and accountability mechanisms to address alleged violations of Article 2
    • Training state officials and law enforcement in their responsibilities and compliance with Article 2 ECHR
    • Regularly revisiting state policies and practices to ensure consistency with Article 2 ECHR and the ECtHR's case-law

    For individuals, the practical implications of Article 2 ECHR include:

    • The protection of their right to life from undue interference by states
    • The right to seek judicial redress in cases of alleged violations of Article 2 ECHR, first through domestic courts and thereafter, if necessary, before the ECtHR
    • The potential to receive financial compensation, remedies, or acknowledgment of the violations by states
    • The reassurance that states are held accountable for violations of the right to life, promoting transparency and reinforcing the rule of law

    It is essential for both states and individuals to be aware of the practical implications of Article 2 ECHR to effectively understand and secure their respective roles in upholding the right to life within the wider framework of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Article 2 echr - Key takeaways

    • Article 2 ECHR enshrines the fundamental Right to Life, protecting individuals against unlawful deprivation of life by public authorities.

    • Key elements of Article 2 ECHR Right to Life include legal protection of life, prohibition of intentional killings, and obligations on the state.

    • Article 2 ECHR has faced criticism and sparked debates over controversial aspects such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the balance between state sovereignty and individual rights.

    • When a violation of Article 2 ECHR occurs, victims and their families may seek compensation through domestic legal proceedings or by lodging an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

    • Understanding the legal text of Article 2 ECHR and the role of the European Court of Human Rights is essential to comprehend its implications for states and individuals.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Article 2 echr
    What is Article 2 of the ECHR?
    Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the right to life provision, a fundamental human rights protection under the Council of Europe's legal conventions. It requires member states to safeguard and respect individuals' lives, as well as ensuring reasonable measures are in place to protect people from foreseeable threats. Additionally, it sets out that the use of lethal force by public authorities can only be carried out in strictly limited circumstances. Deprivation of life is only permissible when absolutely necessary in specific situations, such as self-defence, protecting others from violence, or preventing the escape of a dangerous criminal.
    How does Article 2 of the ECHR protect the right to life?
    Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to life by imposing a duty upon states to refrain from intentionally taking someone's life and to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdiction. It also requires states to carry out an effective investigation in cases where deaths occur due to state agents or as a result of state policy. Additionally, Article 2 may oblige a state to take preventive measures to protect individuals at risk of threats to their lives.
    Is Article 2 of the ECHR an absolute right?
    No, Article 2 ECHR is not an absolute right. While it provides a fundamental right to life and imposes obligations on states to protect lives, it does permit exceptions in certain strictly defined situations, such as in self-defence, defence of others, or to prevent serious crime. These exceptions must be proportionate and adhere to the necessity and legality principles.
    What does Article 2 of the ECHR mean?
    Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the right to life, which means it protects an individual's right to not be intentionally or unlawfully killed by another person. This article imposes an obligation on governments to take appropriate steps to protect lives and to investigate suspicious deaths. Furthermore, it sets out certain acceptable circumstances, such as self-defence, where the deprivation of life may not be considered a violation.
    When was Article 2 of the ECHR written into UK law?
    Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was integrated into UK law with the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into effect on 2nd October 2000.

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