European Court Of Human Rights

Dive into the multifaceted world of the European Court of Human Rights with this informative article. You'll journey through its historical formation, discovering the aims and objectives that led to its establishment. Grasp the structure and functioning, understand the critical aspects of the judgement procedure, explore influential jurisprudence and examine the critical Article 8. This study will also shed light on the Court's case law, its influence, and the landmark rulings that have shaped human rights standards. Lastly, comprehend the key functions of the European Court of Human Rights, evaluating its effectiveness in upholding these rights.

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Table of contents

    Understanding the European Court of Human Rights

    You may have heard about the European Court of Human Rights in your politics class, or perhaps in a news report, and wondered what exactly it is. This institution is quite significant in upholding human rights standards across Europe. In this article, you will take a deep dive into the European Court Of Human Rights, its history, structure, and how it functions. Let's get started.

    The European Court of Human Rights is an international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the convention. From its creation in 1959 until 1998, the Court was not a permanent institution. Judges sat on a part-time basis. But with a rise in cases, in November 1998 a full-time Court was established, composed of judges elected by the member States of the Council of Europe.

    The Historical Formation of the European Court Of Human Rights

    The origin of the European Court Of Human Rights, like many significant international institutions, is rooted in the aftermath of the Second World War.

    • In the wake of the atrocities committed during World War II, there was a strong desire for a system that would protect human rights and ensure such grave violations do not occur again.
    • Thus led to the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1949 and the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950.
    • The European Court Of Human Rights was established in 1959 under this convention.
    • The Court was made a permanent institution in 1998.

    The Aims and Objectives of Establishing the European Court Of Human Rights

    The fundamental objective of establishing the European Court Of Human Rights was to provide a mechanism to enforce and implement the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court offers a means of redress for individuals, non-governmental organizations, and groups of individuals who believe their rights under the convention have been violated.

    Structure and Functioning of the European Court Of Human Rights

    The European Court Of Human Rights is composed of a number of sections, each consisting of at least three judges. The number of judges is equal to the number of member states of the Council of Europe - currently, 47.

    Judicial FormationNumber of Judges
    Grand Chamber17
    Chambers7
    Committees3

    Roles and Responsibilities within the Court

    Each judge in the Court has his or her own role and responsibilities. The President of the Court supervises the work of the Court and represents the Court. The Vice-Presidents assist the President in his functions. Judges listen to cases, deliver judgments, and give legal opinions.

    Judgement Procedure and Protocols in the European Court Of Human Rights

    A case at the European Court of Human Rights goes through several stages. First, an application is made to the court. The judges then deliberate on the admissibility and the merits of the case. If the case is deemed admissible, the Court will issue a judgment. All judgments are binding – the countries concerned are obliged to comply with them.

    European Court of Human Rights Jurisprudence

    The jurisprudence developed by the European Court of Human Rights is a vital component of the Court’s work. It determines how the European Convention on Human Rights is interpreted and applied, ensuring that human rights are protected and promoted across Europe. It's through this jurisprudence that Court both establishes new legal principles and refines existing ones.

    According to the European Court of Human Rights, jurisprudence refers to the body of legal principles and case law that it has developed in interpreting and applying the European Convention on Human Rights. Jurisprudence essentially helps to clarify the scope and meaning of rights and freedoms.

    Understanding the European Court of Human Rights Jurisprudence

    The jurisprudence of the European Court Of Human Rights is largely case-driven. Through its rulings on applications taken to the court, it establishes and develops legal principles that guide understanding and enforcement of human rights across European countries. There are thousands of judgments delivered by the Court each year, which together form the body of the Court’s jurisprudence.

    • The Court's jurisprudence involves interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights and applying it to various cases.
    • It includes landmark rulings that have set important precedents, and these precedents shape later rulings and the human rights policies of member states.
    • The Court's jurisprudence also involves examining state legislation, administrative practices, and decisions to ensure they are compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Jurisprudence is key to the enforcement of the Convention, as it provides clear guidelines on how to interpret its provisions. It ensures consistency in the application and interpretation of human rights across different countries.

    The Influence of European Court of Human Rights Jurisprudence on Global Legal Frameworks

    The jurisprudence of the European Court Of Human Rights goes beyond Europe. Its conventions, treaties, and case-law have had a large influence on global legal frameworks and the legislation enacted by countries around the world.

    • The European Court Of Human Rights has played an essential role in setting common standards for human rights protection worldwide.
    • Its jurisprudence has influenced the interpretation of human rights provisions in various international treaties and conventions.
    • Many global institutions, including United Nations bodies and regional human rights courts, regularly refer to the Court's jurisprudence in their decisions.

    Notable Cases and Their Impact on Jurisprudence

    Throughout its existence, the European Court Of Human Rights has heard some high-profile cases that have had significant impacts on jurisprudence. These cases, often taken against member states, involve critical human rights issues that have led to major changes in legal and societal norms.

    A notable case is "Marckx v. Belgium", in which the Court held that different treatment of children born out of wedlock compared to those born within wedlock violated Article 14 of the Convention, which prohibits discrimination. This case impacted jurisprudence by setting a standard for equal treatment regardless of birth status.

    Another key case was "Dudgeon v. United Kingdom", the first case in which the court had decided that criminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults in private is a violation of Article 8, which protects the right to respect for private and family life. This ruling had far-reaching implications, affecting changes in legislation and attitudes towards homosexuality across Europe and beyond.

    Finally, in the case of "Schalk and Kopf v. Austria", the Court recognised that same-sex couples living in stable partnerships fall under the protection of family life, as stipulated by Article 8 of the Convention. The ruling on this case helped to evolve the understanding and interpretation of "family life" across European countries.

    These are just a few examples of notable cases that have created significant impacts on human rights jurisprudence. They highlight the crucial role the European Court Of Human Rights plays in shaping and evolving the understanding of human rights.

    European Court of Human Rights Article 8

    Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights is a pivotal clause, focusing on the right to respect for private and family life. It is a vital tool in safeguarding individuals' privacy and ensuring protection against state intrusion into their personal lives.

    An In-depth Look at European Court of Human Rights Article 8

    Article 8 is one of the central provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights. It respects an individual's private and family life, his home, and his correspondence.

    Article 8 consists of two parts. The first part emphasises the respect for an individual's private and family life, home, and correspondence, essentially outlining the general principle of the right. It is aiding in the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society. The second part gives a provision for permissible exceptions, stating that there can be interference by public authorities with the exercise of this right only as per stipulations.

    An important aspect to note about Article 8 is that the right is not an absolute right. This means that in certain circumstances, states can interfere with individual rights provided they satisfy a three-part test. The interference must be:

    • In accordance with the law
    • Pursue a legitimate aim
    • Necessary in a democratic society

    This test ensures that any exception to the right to respect for private and family life is necessary, proportionate, and serves a compelling state interest. These principles are deeply ingrained in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

    Key Aspects and Guarantees of Article 8

    There are several notable and significant elements to Article 8 that extend to various facets of a person’s life. Below, key guarantees provided by Article 8 are outlined.

    Personal DevelopmentArticle 8 safeguards the right of individuals to develop their personalities and personal relationships.
    Physical and Mental IntegrityThe clause stands for the right to physical and moral security and guarantees the physical and psychological integrity of a person.
    Criminal aspectsIn criminal matters, Article 8 ensures procedural rights.
    HomeThe Article protects the geographical space in which private life unfolds, i.e., it provides protection against intrusion into personal space.
    CorrespondenceIt provides protections for various forms of communication including letters, email, telephone conversations, and other forms of digital communication.

    Significant Article 8 Cases and Their Outcomes

    Certain landmark cases have played instrumental roles in defining the scope of Article 8. By examining these cases, a clear understanding of the different aspects of this right will be exhibited.

    In the case of "S and Marper v. United Kingdom", the Court ruled that the retention by the government of the innocent individuals' fingerprints and DNA profiles was a violation of Article 8. This judgment importantly clarified that the retention of personal data could be an interference with the right to respect for private life.

    In another significant case, "Mosley v. United Kingdom", following revelations about his private life in the media, Max Mosley, the former President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), filed a complaint with the Court alleging interference with his private life. The Court declared that Article 8 necessitates, under certain circumstances, a duty to prevent disclosure of private information, even when reported in the context of free press.

    The case of "Delfi AS v. Estonia" saw a major internet news portal being held liable for anonymous, offensive online comments on its website. Here, the Court held that holding an internet news portal responsible for offensive comments posted by its readers did not violate the right to freedom of expression. However, this raised complicated questions around online communication, and the nature of Article 8’s application to Internet-based scenarios.

    These cases showcase that Article 8's purpose does not solely aim to protect individuals from arbitrary interference by public authorities. It also imposes certain positive obligations on the State to secure the effective respect for private life, even in the sphere of relations between individuals.

    European Court of Human Rights Case Law

    The European Court of Human Rights Case Law constitutes a rich and varied body of rulings, guiding the interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights across different nations. It's through these case laws that the principles enshrined in the convention are implemented and developed, and human rights norms evolve over time.

    Overview of European Court of Human Rights Case Law

    The case law of the European Court of Human Rights consists of judgements delivered by this international court on applications alleging human rights violations by member states of the Council of Europe. These judgements clarify and extend the understanding and scope of the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, thus establishing important legal principles.

    Case law, also known as jurisprudence, is the body of judicial decisions that explains the interpretation, application, alteration, and development of laws over time. In the context of the European Court of Human Rights, case law refers to the collection of rulings that the court has made regarding human rights issues.

    Case law from the European Court of Human Rights spans various topics:

    • Freedom of speech and expression
    • Right to fair trial
    • Non-discrimination
    • Protection of property
    • Right to privacy
    • Prohibition of torture, and inhuman or degrading treatment

    It's through these case laws that the Court aids in the provision of effective human rights protections, addressing new issues, and meeting new challenges.

    Landmark Case Laws and Their Impact on Human Rights Standards

    There have been numerous landmark cases that have significantly shaped human rights standards. The judgements in these cases have had a far-reaching impact, not just on the applicants, but also on the human rights jurisprudence and the wider law and policy landscape.

    "Soering v. United Kingdom" is a groundbreaking case in relation to the prohibition of torture. In this case, the Court held that extradition of a person to another state where they could face the death penalty could give rise to inhuman treatment, thus violating Article 3 of the Convention.

    In the case of "Cyprus v. Turkey", the Court found numerous violations of human rights by Turkey in northern Cyprus. The judgement played a substantial role in affirming the application of human rights law in situations of military occupation.

    "Hirst v. United Kingdom" was a seminal case where the Court held that a blanket ban on prisoners' voting rights was a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No.1 – the right to free elections. This ruling has had vast implications on reforming electoral laws concerning disenfranchisement across Europe.

    The case of "A and Others v. United Kingdom" is noteworthy in the context of counter-terrorism measures and fair trial rights. The Court here solidified the principle that indefinite detention without charge or trial is incompatible with the respects for human rights.

    Understanding Case Law Influence on Domestic Legal Systems

    The case law of the European Court of Human Rights significantly influences domestic legal systems. The judgements of the Court serve as authoritative interpretations of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, which is not only an international legal instrument but is also incorporated into the domestic laws of many member states.

    A major example of domestic legal incorporation is the UK's Human Rights Act 1998, which directly transposes the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. In such nations, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights significantly shapes domestic jurisprudence and legislative reforms.

    Even in states where the Convention has not been incorporated into domestic law, the case law of the Court influences legal systems in multiple ways:

    • The judgements of the Court help form the legal principles regarding human rights at the national level.
    • They guide domestic courts in determining cases involving human rights issues.
    • The Court's rulings can instigate changes in the law and state practices to prevent future violations of human rights.

    Consider the famous case "Handyside v. United Kingdom", where the Court established a broad interpretation of freedom of expression, including the right to "offend, shock or disturb". This principle has since shaped national laws across Europe concerning freedom of speech

    Moreover, when states fail to prevent violations or don't adequately remedy them, individuals can bring their case before the Court. This acts as a vital mechanism to ensure states' accountability and drives improvements in their domestic law and practice.

    European Court of Human Rights Functions

    Peeling back the layers for a closer look at the heart of the topic, the European Court of Human Rights encompasses a multitude of functions crucial to the protection, promotion, and progress of human rights in Europe. Encapsulating aspects of adjudication, facilitation, and interpretation, the Court's functions reinforce its status as a pillar of human rights justice.

    The Key Functions and Importance of the European Court Of Human Rights

    The European Court of Human Rights serves significant functions which are finely integrated into its foundation to discharge the protective and preservative responsibilities towards human rights within Europe.

    At its core, the Court adjudicates on alleged violations of the civil and political rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. This adjudicative function involves examining applications from individuals, groups, NGOs, and even states, alleging such violations, and passing judgments on them. In this regard, the Court does not act as a court of appeal for national court decisions, but rather reviews cases for violation of the principles laid out in the Convention.

    • The Court's functions extend to interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights. It offers clarifications and interpretations of the provisions laid out in the Convention, which set legal precedents for cases in the future.
    • Another function of the Court is fostering dialogue on human rights protection between the Court and the states, ultimately promoting legal and policy reforms at the national level to enhance human rights protection.
    • The European Court also plays a role in encouraging peaceful settlements of cases where the Parties reach a friendly settlement based on respect for human rights.

    Adjudication: The process of hearing and resolving a dispute in a court of law. In the context of the European Court of Human Rights, adjudication refers to its process of hearing and making judgments on cases concerning human rights violations.

    How European Court of Human Rights Upholds Human Rights

    The European Court of Human Rights upholds human rights through its various functions.

    • Delivery of Judgments: The Court delivers binding judgments on complaints brought before it. These judgments not only rectify human rights violations but also encompass the obligation on states to prevent similar violations in the future.
    • Setting standards and precedents: The Court's interpretations of the European Convention on Human Rights contribute towards standards-setting, legal certainty and predictability. By offering interpretations of the Convention’s provisions, it sets legal precedents and guides domestic courts of member states.
    • Supervising implementation of judgments: The Court's authority extends to guiding and supervising how its judgments are implemented by member states. This ensures accountability and reinforces the protective human rights layer.

    Reviewing the Effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights

    Given its pivotal role, reviewing the effectiveness of the European Court Of Human Rights is essential in gauging its impact on the human rights landscape. The effectiveness can be evaluated based on its ability to enforce decisions, the influence of its decisions over domestic policies and legislation, the number of cases it adjudicates, and case-law it develops.

    The strength of the Court's effectiveness is often shown in the way its decisions directly impact national laws and policies. For example, in the case of "Hirst v United Kingdom", the Court's decision led the UK to reconsider voting rights for prison inmates, sparking a broader conversation on prisoners’ rights.

    Moreover, the sheer volume of cases that the Court receives and handles every year reflects its broad jurisdiction, the trust placed on it, and the significant role it plays in shaping and upholding human rights.

    On the other hand, challenges to Court's effectiveness also exist. The backlog of cases and the struggle for many states to implement its judgments indicate areas where enhancement is required.

    For instance, while the Court delivered its judgment on voting rights for prisoners in 2005, its implementation in the UK laws took more than a decade. Such delays highlight the complexities of transforming principles of human rights into actionable national policies and laws.

    The effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights, therefore, is a dynamic measure that showcases how the Court's functions translate to day-to-day impacts on state policy, legislation, and individual lives. It's vital to continually assess this effectiveness as part of ensuring robust protection and promotion of human rights across Europe.

    European Court Of Human Rights - Key takeaways

    • The jurisprudence of the European Court Of Human Rights is case-driven, contributing significantly to the enforcement and understanding of human rights through rulings in various cases.
    • European Court Of Human Rights jurisprudence plays an influential role in interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights and setting global human rights standards.
    • Notable case rulings, such as "Marckx v. Belgium" and "Dudgeon v. United Kingdom", have significantly impacted the interpretation and development of human rights principles, addressing key issues under the European Court of Human Rights Article 8.
    • Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights, which concerns the respect for private and family life, is vital in protecting individuals' rights against state intrusion and ensuring regulatory exceptions are necessary, proportionate, and serve a compelling state interest.
    • The European Court Of Human Rights Case Law extends the understanding and application of rights in the European Convention, influencing domestic and global human rights standards through landmark rulings such as "Soering v. United Kingdom" and "Hirst v. United Kingdom".
    Frequently Asked Questions about European Court Of Human Rights
    What is the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK legal system?
    The European Court of Human Rights in the UK legal system serves to uphold human rights principles outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights. UK courts are required to take into account its judgments but are not legally bound by them.
    How do rulings by the European Court of Human Rights impact laws within the EU member states?
    Rulings by the European Court of Human Rights set precedents that EU member states are obliged to follow. These rulings can lead to alterations in national laws to ensure they comply with the principles set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
    Who are the judges at the European Court of Human Rights and how are they selected?
    The judges at the European Court of Human Rights are representatives from each of the 47 Council of Europe member states. Appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, they are chosen from three candidates proposed by the respective state, for a single, non-renewable nine-year term.
    Can individuals directly take their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights?
    Yes, individuals can directly take their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, providing they have exhausted all possible legal recourse in their own country. This includes organisations, non-profit entities and groups of individuals as well.
    What types of human rights violations can be taken to the European Court of Human Rights?
    The European Court of Human Rights hears violations pertaining to civil and political rights, including freedom of speech, right to a fair trial, prohibition of torture, and the right to private and family life, amongst others, as outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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