European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR; French: Cour européenne des droits de l’homme) is a supranational or international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the Convention and its protocols.

An application can be lodged by an individual, a group of individuals, or one or more of the other contracting states. Aside from judgments, the Court can also issue advisory opinions. The Convention was adopted within the context of the Council of Europe, and all of its 47 member states are contracting parties to the Convention. The Court is based in Strasbourg, France.

European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights logo

Council of Europe (orthographic projection)

Signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights
Established1959 (initially)
1998 (permanent)
Country47 member states of the Council of Europe
LocationStrasbourg, France
Authorized byEuropean Convention on Human Rights
Decisions are appealed toGrand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights
No. of positions47 judges. One from each of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe
CurrentlyGuido Raimondi
Since2010 (judge), 2015 (President)
European Court of Human Rights
Building of the European Court of Human Rights

History and structure

Piece of Berlin Wall in front of the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg
A piece of the Berlin Wall in front of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court was established on 21 January 1959 on the basis of Article 19 of the European Convention on Human Rights when its first members were elected by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.[1] The Convention charges the Court with ensuring the observance of the engagement undertaken by the contracting states in relation to the Convention and its protocols, that is ensuring the enforcement and implementation of the European Convention in the member states of the Council of Europe.

The jurisdiction of the Court has been recognized to date by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe. On 1 November 1998, the Court became a full-time institution and the European Commission of Human Rights, which used to decide on admissibility of applications, was abolished by Protocol 11.[2][3]

The accession of new states to the European Convention on Human Rights following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 led to a sharp increase in applications filed in the Court. The efficiency of the Court was threatened seriously by the large number of pending applications, which were accumulating and increasing steadily.

In 1999 8,400 applications were allocated to be heard. In 2003 27,200 cases were filed and the number of pending applications rose to approximately 65,000. In 2005, the Court opened 45,500 case files. In 2009 57,200 applications were allocated, with the number of pending applications rose to 119,300. At the time more than 90% of them were declared to be inadmissible, and the majority of cases decided, around 60% of the decisions by the Court, related to what is termed repetitive cases, where the Court has already delivered judgment finding a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights or where well established case law exists on a similar case.

Protocol 11 was designed to deal with the backlog of pending cases by establishing the Court and its judges as a full-time institution, by simplifying the procedure and reducing the length of proceedings. However, as the workload of the Court continued to increase, the contracting states agreed that further reforms were necessary and in May 2004 the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Protocol 14 was drafted with the aim of reducing the workload of the Court and that of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which supervises the execution of judgments, so that the Court could focus on cases that raise important human rights issues.[4]

Protocol 14 reforms

Protocol 14 entered into force on 1 June 2010, three months after it was ratified by all 47 contracting states to the Convention.[4] Between 2006 and 2010, Russia was the only contracting state to refuse to ratify Protocol 14. In 2010, Russia ended its opposition to the protocol, in exchange for a guarantee that Russian judges would be involved in reviewing complaints against Russia.[5]

Protocol 14 led to reforms in three areas: The Court's filtering capacity was reinforced to deal with clearly inadmissible applications, new admissibility criteria were introduced so that cases where the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage would be declared inadmissible, and measures were introduced to deal more effectively with repetitive cases.[4]

Protocol 14 amended the Convention so that judges would be elected for a non-renewable term of nine years, whereas previously judges served a six-year term with the option of renewal. Amendments were also made so that a single judge could reject plainly inadmissible applications, while prior to this protocol only a three judge committee could make this final decision. In cases of doubt, the single judge refers the applications to the Committee of the Court.

A single judge may not examine applications against the state which nominated him. The three judge committee has jurisdiction to declare applications admissible and decide on the merits of the case if it was clearly well founded and based on well established case law. Previously the three judge committee could only declare the case inadmissible, but could not decide on the merits of the case, which could only be done by a chambers of seven judges or the Grand Chamber.

Protocol 14 also provides that when a three judge committee decides on the merits of a case, the judge elected to represent that state is no longer a compulsory member of this committee. The judge can be invited by the committee, to replace one of its members, but only for specific reasons, such as when the application relates to the exhaustion of national legal remedies.[4]

Protocol 14 empowered the Court to declare applications inadmissible where the applicant has not suffered a significant disadvantage and which do not raise serious questions affecting the application or the interpretation of the Convention, or important questions concerning national law. The European Commissioner for Human Rights is now allowed to intervene in cases as a third party, providing written comments and taking part in hearings. In order to reduce the workload of the Court, Protocol 14 states that the Court should encourage the parties to reach a settlement at an early stage of the proceedings, especially in repetitive cases.

The Committee of Ministers supervises the settlement's execution. Protocol 14 also allows the Committee of Ministers to ask the Court to interpret a final judgment if there are difficulties in the execution of a final judgment. In order to prevent repetitive applications concerning structural problems in contracting states on which the Court has previously made a final decision, the Committee of Ministers can in exceptional circumstances and with a two-thirds majority, initiate proceedings for non-compliance with a final decision in the Grand Chamber of the Court.

Article 17 of protocol 14 allows the European Union to become party to the Convention. In turn the Lisbon Treaty, which entered force in December 2009, provides that the European Union should accede and become a party to the Convention.[4] The Committee of Ministers is to evaluate in 2012 to 2015 the extent to which the implementation of Protocol 14 has improved the effectiveness of the Court. The Committee of Ministers is to decide before 2019 whether more reforms of the Court are necessary.[4]


European Court of Human Rights, courtroom, 2014 (cropped)
Courtroom of the European Court of Human Rights (detail).

Judges are elected for a non-renewable nine-year term.[4] The number of full-time judges sitting in the Court is equal to the number of contracting states to the European Convention on Human Rights, currently 47. The Convention requires that judges are of "high moral character" and have qualifications suitable for high judicial office, or be jurisconsults of recognised competence.

Each judge is elected by majority vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from among three candidates nominated by each contracting state.[2] Judges are elected whenever a sitting judge's term has expired or when a new state accedes to the Convention. The retiring age of judges is 70, but they may continue to serve as judges until a new judge is elected or until the cases in which they sit have come to an end.

Judges perform their duties in an individual capacity and are prohibited from having any institutional or other type of ties with the contracting state in respect of whom they were elected. To ensure the independence of the Court, judges are not allowed to participate in activity that may compromise the Court's independence. Judges cannot hear or decide a case if they have a family or professional relationship with a party. A judge can be dismissed from office only if the other judges decide, by a two-thirds majority, that the judge has ceased to fulfil the required conditions. Judges enjoy, during their term as judges, the privileges and immunities provided for in Article 40 of the Statute of the Council of Europe.[2]

Plenary court and administration

The plenary court is an assembly of all of the Court's judges. It has no judicial functions. It elects the court's president, vice-president, registrar and deputy registrar. It also deals with administrative matters, discipline, working methods, reforms, the establishment of Chambers and the adoption of the Rules of Court.[2]


The jurisdiction of the court is generally divided into inter-state cases, applications by individuals against contracting states, and advisory opinions in accordance with Protocol No.2. Applications by individuals constitute the majority of cases heard by the Court.[2] A Committee is constituted by three judges, Chambers by seven judges and a Grand Chamber by 17 judges.[2]

Applications by individuals

Applications by individuals against contracting states, alleging that the state violates their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, can be made by any person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals. Although the official languages of the Court are English and French, applications may be submitted in any one of the official languages of the contracting states. An application has to be made in writing and signed by the applicant or by the applicant's representative.[6]

Once registered with the Court, the case is assigned to a judge rapporteur, who can make a final decision that the case is inadmissible. A case may be inadmissible when it is incompatible with the requirements of ratione materiae, ratione temporis or ratione personae, or if the case cannot be proceeded with on formal grounds, such as non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, lapse of the six months from the last internal decision complained of, anonymity, substantial identity with a matter already submitted to the Court, or with another procedure of international investigation.

If the rapporteur judge decides that the case can proceed, the case is referred to a Chamber of the Court which, unless it decides that the application is inadmissible, communicates the case to the government of the state against which the application is made, asking the government to present its observations on the case.

The Chamber of the Court then deliberates and judges the case on its admissibility and its merits. Cases that raise serious questions of interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights, a serious issue of general importance, or which may depart from previous case law can be heard in the Grand Chamber if all parties to the case agree to the Chamber of the Court relinquishing jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber. A panel of five judges decides whether the Grand Chamber accepts the referral.[2][4]

Case examples

Interstate cases

Any contracting state to the European Convention on Human Rights can sue another contracting state in the Court for alleged breaches of the Convention, although in practice this is very rare.[2] Until now only four interstate cases have been decided by the court:[7]

Ireland v. United-Kingdom (n° 5310/71), judgement of 18.01.1978 on inhuman and degrading treatment in Northern Ireland (art. 3)
Denmark v. Turkey (n° 34382/97), judgement of 05.04.2000 ratifying a friendly settlement of 450.000 DKK regarding a Danish national detained in Turkey (art. 3)
Cyprus v. Turkey (n° 25781/94), judgements of 10.05.2001 on the treatment of missing persons (art. 2, 3 & 5), the right of return of Greek who have fled to the south (art. 8, 13 & P1-1), the rights of Greeks still living in the north (art. 3, 8, 9, 10, 13, P1-1, P1-2) and the trial by military courts (art. 6). A subsequent judgement of 12.05.2014 awarded 90 million euro in 'just satisfaction' (art. 41)
Georgia v. Russian Federation (n° 13255/07), judgement of 03.07.2014 on the collective expulsion of Georgians from Russia (art. 3, 5, 13, 38, P4-4) and Russia not cooperating with the Court (art. 38)

Advisory opinion

The Committee of Ministers may, by majority vote, ask the Court to deliver an advisory opinion on the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, unless the matter relates to the content and scope of fundamental rights which the Court already considers.[2]

Procedure and decisions

Courtroom European Court of Human Rights 01
Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights

After the preliminary finding of admissibility the Court examines the case by hearing representations from both parties. The Court may undertake any investigation it deems necessary on the facts or issues raised in the application and contracting states are required to provide the Court with all necessary assistance for this purpose.

The European Convention on Human Rights requires all hearings to be in public, unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the holding of a private hearing. In practice the majority of cases are heard in private following written pleadings. In confidential proceedings the Court may assist both parties in securing a settlement, in which case the Court monitors the compliance of the agreement with the Convention. However, in many cases, a hearing is not held.

The judgment of the Grand Chamber is final. Judgments by the Chamber of the Court becomes final three months after they are issued, unless a reference to the Grand Chamber for review or appeal has been made. If the panel of the Grand Chamber rejects the request for referral, the judgment of the Chamber of the Court becomes final.[2] The Grand Chamber is made up of 17 judges: the Court's President and Vice-Presidents, the Section Presidents and the national judge, together with other judges selected by drawing of lots. Grand Chambers include a public hearing, which is transmitted as a webcast on the ECHR site. After the public hearing, the judges deliberate.

The Court's chamber decides both issues regarding admissibility and merits of the case. Generally, both these issues are dealt with in the same judgment. In final judgments the Court makes a declaration that a contracting state has violated the Convention, and may order the contracting state to pay material and/or moral damages and the legal expenses incurred in domestic courts and the Court in bringing the case.

The Court's judgments are public and must contain reasons justifying the decision. Article 46 of the Convention provides that contracting states undertake to abide by the Court's final decision. On the other hand, advisory opinions are, by definition, non-binding. The Court has to date decided consistently that under the Convention it has no jurisdiction to annul domestic laws or administrative practices which violate the Convention.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is charged with supervising the execution of the Court's judgments. The Committee of Ministers oversees the contracting states' changes to their national law in order that it is compatible with the Convention, or individual measures taken by the contracting state to redress violations. Judgments by the Court are binding on the respondent states concerned and states usually comply with the Court's judgments.[2]

Chambers decide cases by a majority. Any judge who has heard the case can attach to the judgment a separate opinion. This opinion can concur or dissent with the decision of the Court. In case of a tie in voting, the President has the casting vote.

Relationship with other courts

The European Court of Justice

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) is not related to the European Court of Human Rights. However, since all EU states are members of the Council of Europe and have signed the Convention on Human Rights, there are concerns about consistency in case law between the two courts. The ECJ refers to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and treats the Convention on Human Rights as though it was part of the EU's legal system, since it forms part of the legal principles of the EU member states.

Even though its member states are party to the Convention, the European Union itself is not a party, as it did not have competence to do so under previous treaties. However, EU institutions are bound under article 6 of the EU Treaty of Nice to respect human rights under the Convention. Furthermore, since the Treaty of Lisbon took effect on 1 December 2009, the EU is expected to sign the Convention. This would mean that the Court of Justice is bound by the judicial precedents of the Court of Human Rights's case law and thus be subject to its human rights law, avoiding issues of conflicting case law between these two courts.

However, to the surprise of many, in an opinion issued in December 2014 by the ECJ it rejected the accession to the European Court of Human Rights in Opinion 2/13. [8]

National courts

Most of the Contracting Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights have incorporated the Convention into their own national legal systems, either through constitutional provision, statute or judicial decision.[9]


Criticism against ECtHR includes claims that it interferes too much with the sovereignty of the members states, that it engages in judicial activism, that it is biased against non-Western values, and that it interprets the Convention in controversial ways. The court's interpretation of the Convention's reach is at times subject to criticism as either too narrow or too wide. For instance, the former judge in respect of Cyprus, Loukis Loucaides, criticised the Court for a "reluctance to find violations in sensitive matters affecting the interests of the respondent States".[10] On the other hand, the British Law Lord, Lord Hoffmann argued in 2009 that the Court has not taken the doctrine of the margin of appreciation far enough, being "unable to resist the temptation to aggrandise its jurisdiction and to impose uniform rules on Member States. It considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe".[11]

Lord Hoffman considered that the ability of the court to interfere in the detail of domestic law ought to be curtailed.[12] He was in 2010 joined in the criticism by the president of the Belgian Constitutional Court, Marc Bossuyt,[13] who in 2014 also criticized the Court for being judicial activist as it expands the guarantees of the Treaty to issues that clearly were not included in the Treaty nor intended by the framers. Bossuyt especially criticized the Court's handling of asylum cases with respect to articles 3 and 6 of the Treaty.[14] In the UK, the Court was criticized for allegedly being over-intrusive in areas considered to be the domain of domestic courts and parliament; Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve claimed that the Court does not give sufficient margin of appreciation to states, a controversy being the Court's requirement that the UK liberalize voting rights for prisoners,[15] a decision called "completely unacceptable" by David Cameron.[16] Cameron also claimed that the concept of human rights was being "distorted" and "discredited" by the ECtHR, because reasonable decisions made at a national level were not respected by the Court.[17] Hugh Tomlinson claimed that the ECtHR is undermining the media's pursuit of truth through its freedom of expression cases, by unreasonably restricting the media's freedom of speech.[18] Bertrand Mathieu, a French specialist in constitutional law, argues that the ECtHR rulings are descending into illegitimacy because they unreasonably interfere in the field of politics, which is contrary to the principle that in a democracy it is up to the national legislators to define the general public interest, not to supranational judges.[19]

Criticism from Russia, a country held to be in violation of the Convention by the Court in many decisions, is frequent. The Court's judge in respect of Russia, Anatoly Kovler, explaining his frequent dissenting opinions, noted that "I dislike when the Court evaluates non-European values as reactionary (Refah v. Turkey)".[20]

The chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin, pointing to the Markin v. Russia case, stated that Russia has the right to create a mechanism of protection from Court decisions "touching the national sovereignty, the basic constitutional principles".[21] Notably, in 2014 Russia was ordered by ECtHR to pay in excess of $2 billion in damages to former shareholders of Yukos, which the court ruled was intentionally bankrupted by the government.[22][23] In 2015, Russia adopted a law allowing it to overrule judgements from the ECtHR,[24] codifying an earlier Russian Constitutional Court decision which ruled that Russia could refuse to recognize an ECtHR decision if it conflicted with the Russian Constitution.[25] Other countries have also moved to restrict the binding nature of the ECtHR judgments, subject to the countries' own constitutional principles. In 2004, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that judgments handed down by the ECtHR are not always binding on German courts.[26] In many cases, the authorities in various countries have simply refused to put in practice the ECtHR judgments. Nearly 10,000 judgments of the ECtHR have not been put into effect by national governments.[27] In some cases, politicians have been openly defiant. In 2017, Georgia’s Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani stated that the ECtHR "can’t touch a [Georgian court] decision with one swipe".[28]

There has also been criticism of the Court's structure. Loucaides wrote that by introducing in its Rules a Bureau, the Court created "a separate collective organ that had nothing to do with the structure of the Court organs according to the Convention".[29] It has been said that in failing to distinctly define how a consensus is reached reduces its legitimacy. Furthermore, as the ECtHR grows, the consensus between the members diminishes.[30] Since the 2000s there has been increased backlash against what is seen as undue interference by the Court in internal issues of member states; a situation which may be the result of the fact that many European countries are now well established democracies with good reputation of human rights: while international human rights institutions may help new emerging democracies make credible commitments to human rights while they are still weak and seek approval, once consolidated democracies already have credibly established domestic protections they have fewer reasons to put up with interventionist supranational institutions.[31]


The building, which houses the court chambers and Registry (administration and référendaires), was designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership and completed in 1995. The design is meant to reflect, amongst other things, the two distinct components of the Commission and Court (as it was then).

Honours and awards

In 2010 the Court received the Freedom medal.[32]


A statistical natural language processing method has been applied to automatically predict the outcome of cases tried by the European Court of Human Rights (violation or no violation of a specific article) based on their textual contents, reaching a prediction accuracy of 79%.[33]

See also


  1. ^ "The court in brief" (PDF). European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smith, Rhona K.M.; van der Anker, Christien (2005). The essentials of Human Rights. Hodder Arnold. p. 115. ISBN 0-340-81574-4.
  3. ^ "Details of Treaty No.155". Council of Europe. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Protocol no.14 Factsheet: The reform of the European Court of Human Rights" (PDF). Council of Europe. May 2010. p. 1. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  5. ^ NY Times: Russia Ends Opposition to Rights Court
  6. ^ Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Brummer, Klaus (2008). Europäischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag. pp. 172–173.
  9. ^ Helen Keller and Alec Stone Sweet, A Europe of Rights: The Impact of the ECHR on National Legal Systems (Oxford University Press, 2008).
  10. ^ Loucaides L. Reflections of a Former European Court of Human Rights Judge on his Experiences as a Judge. Roma Rights 1, 2010: Implementation of Judgments
  11. ^ Lord Hoffmann The Universality of Human Rights Archived 2011-12-19 at the Wayback Machine Judicial Studies Board annual lecture, 2009
  12. ^ BBC News, "Judge attacks human rights court", BBC News Online, (4 April 2009)
  13. ^ Stijn Smet President of Belgian Constitutional Court Criticises European Court of Human Rights, 2010
  14. ^ Marc Bossuyt, Rechterlijk activisme in Straatsburg, Rechtskundig Weekblad, 2013-2014, nr. 19, 723-733.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Судья от России в ЕСПЧ Анатолий Ковлер: "Дела из России у судей нарасхват..." (in Russian). Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  21. ^ Зорькин В. (29 October 2010). Пределы уступчивости (in Russian). Российская газета. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  22. ^ Russia Today, Russia ‘forced to accept’ €1.86bn compensation for former shareholders of oil giant, 17 December 2014
  23. ^ BBC, Russia ordered to pay $2.5bn to Yukos shareholders, 31 July 2014
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Loucaides L. Reflections of a Former European Court of Human Rights Judge on his Experiences as a Judge // Roma Rights 1, 2010: Implementation of Judgments
  30. ^ "Roffee, J. A. (2014). No Consensus on Incest? Criminalisation and Compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights". doi:10.1093/hrlr/ngu023]. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  31. ^
  32. ^ Four Freedoms Award#Freedom Medal
  33. ^ N. Aletras; D. Tsarapatsanis; D. Preotiuc-Pietro; V. Lampos (2016). "Predicting judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights: a Natural Language Processing perspective". PeerJ Computer Science.

External links

Coordinates: 48°35′47″N 7°46′27″E / 48.596389°N 7.774167°E

Audrius Butkevičius

Audrius Butkevičius (born 24 September 1960 in Kaunas) is a Lithuanian politician, a signatory of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, member of the Seimas (parliament of Lithuania) from 25 November 1996 till 18 October 2000. He does not belong to any party.In 1988 was one of the organizers of the Lithuanian reform Movement "Sąjūdis", a member of the Sąjūdis Seimas. He was an establisher and chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees.

In the period of 1990-1993 he was in the state of negotiations with the Russian Federation. One notable issue that was raised was the withdrawal of the Russian troops stationed in Lithuania, whereupon Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement that declared that all of the Russian troops stationed on the territory of Lithuania must withdraw by 31 August 1993. The agreement was concluded on schedule.

In the late 1990s, Butkevičius was under the suspicion of fraud. On 12 August 1997 he was apprehended by the Lithuanian secret service agents in a hotel lobby while accepting 15,000 US dollars. After a brief explanation, he was permitted to leave. On 14 August criminal proceedings were instituted against him. He was eventually arrested on 28 October, whereupon he was imprisoned and sentenced to five and a half years in jail. He was released on 20 March 2000.

Subsequently, he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. He stated that his detention was unlawful and that Articles 5 and 6 were breached. The court held the fact that these articles certainly were breached and that Lithuania was ordered to pay Butkevičius compensation.In 2007, he was elected to Vilnius City Council.

Church of Scientology Moscow v. Russia

The Church of Scientology Moscow v Russia [2007] ECHR 258 is a European Court of Human Rights case, concerning Article 11 of the Convention. In the case the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned Moscow City Government's refusal to consider the Church of Scientology of Moscow for registration as a religious organisation, and as a result found that Russia had violated the rights of the Church of Scientology under Articles 11 (the right to freedom of association) when "read in the light of Article 9" (the right to freedom of religion). Specifically, the Court determined that, in denying consideration of registration to the Church of Scientology of Moscow, the Moscow authorities "did not act in good faith and neglected their duty of neutrality and impartiality vis-à-vis the applicant's religious community". The Court also awarded the Church €10,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €15,000 for costs and expenses.

Church of Scientology v. Sweden

Church of Scientology v. Sweden (8282/78) was a case decided by the European Commission of Human Rights in 1980.

Dudgeon v United Kingdom

Dudgeon v the United Kingdom (1981) was a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case, which held that Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 which criminalised male homosexual acts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The case was significant

as the first successful case before the ECtHR on the criminalisation of male homosexuality

as the case which led to legislation in 1982 bringing the law on male homosexuality in Northern Ireland into line with that in Scotland (since 1980) and in England and Wales (since 1967);

as a lead-in to Norris v. Ireland, a later case before the ECtHR argued by Mary Robinson, which challenged the continued application of the same 1885 law in the Republic of Ireland; and,

for setting the legal precedent that ultimately resulted in the Council of Europe requiring that no member state could criminalise male or female homosexual behaviour.

Five techniques

The five techniques (also known as Deep-Interrogation) are illegal interrogation methods which were originally developed by the British military in other operational theatres and then applied to detainees during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. They have been defined as prolonged wall-standing, hooding, subjection to noise, deprivation of sleep, and deprivation of food and drink.They were first used in Northern Ireland in 1971 as part of Operation Demetrius – the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of people suspected of involvement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Out of those arrested, fourteen were subjected to a programme of "deep interrogation" using the five techniques. This took place at a secret interrogation centre in Northern Ireland. For seven days, when not being interrogated, the detainees were kept hooded and handcuffed in a cold cell and subjected to a continuous loud hissing noise. Here they were forced to stand in a stress position for many hours and were deprived of sleep, food and drink. They were also repeatedly beaten, and some reported being kicked in the genitals, having their heads banged against walls and being threatened with injections. The effect was prolonged pain, physical and mental exhaustion, severe anxiety, depression, hallucinations, disorientation and repeated loss of consciousness. It also resulted in long-term psychological trauma. The fourteen became known as "the Hooded Men" and were the only detainees in Northern Ireland subjected to all five techniques together. Other detainees were subjected to at least one of the five techniques along with other interrogation methods.In 1976, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled that the five techniques amounted to torture. The case was then referred to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1978 the court ruled that the techniques were "inhuman and degrading" and breached the European Convention on Human Rights, but did not amount to "torture". In 2014, after new information was uncovered that showed the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971-1972 had been taken by ministers, the Irish Government asked the European Court of Human Rights to review its judgement and acknowledge the five techniques as torture.

The Court's ruling that the five techniques did not amount to torture was later cited by the United States and Israel to justify their own interrogation methods, which included the five techniques. British agents also taught the five techniques to the forces of Brazil's military dictatorship.During the Iraq War, the illegal use of the five techniques by British soldiers contributed to the death of Baha Mousa.

Lehideux and Isorni v France

Lehideux and Isorni v. France (case no. 55/1997/839/1045, application no. 24662/94, Publication 1998-VII, no. 92), was a case heard by the European Court of Human Rights on punishing statements praising collaborators. In a judgement handed down 23 September 1998, the court has held by fifteen votes against six that the conviction of applicants for their article in favour of Philippe Pétain was prescribed by law and pursued a legitimate aim, but wasn't necessary in a democratic society and therefore violated Article 10 (freedom of expression).

Besides, the court has ruled that the case "does not belong to the category of clearly established historical facts – such as the Holocaust – whose negation or revision would be removed from the protection of Article 10 by Article 17" (Para. 47). In doing so the court has ruled that the protections in Article 17, the prohibition of abuse of rights, could restrict the right of free speech granted under Article 10.

This ruling has had a direct influence on International treaty law. The "Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems" requires participating States to criminalize the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems, as well as of racist and xenophobic-motivated threats and insults. Article 8, Section 1 of the protocol specifically covers the denial of the Holocaust and other genocides recognised as such by other international courts set up since 1945 by relevant international legal instruments. The Council of Europe Explanatory Report of the protocol states "European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that the denial or revision of “clearly established historical facts – such as the Holocaust – […] would be removed from the protection of Article 10 by Article 17” of the ECHR (see in this context the Lehideux and Isorni judgment of 23 September 1998)".

M25 Three

The M25 Three were Raphael George Rowe, Michael George Davis, and Randolph Egbert Johnson, who were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in March 1990 after being found guilty of murder and robbery. The name was taken from the location of the crimes, which were committed around the M25, London's orbital motorway, during the early hours of 16 December 1988. The original trial took place between January and February 1990, resulting in all three being convicted of the murder of Peter Hurburgh, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Timothy Napier and several robberies. Each was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and given substantial sentences for the other offences. Davis also pleaded guilty to separate charges of robbery and Johnson to robbery and rape, offences committed during the commission of an earlier burglary several days before the murder. For these crimes, Davis was sentenced to ten years and Johnson to twelve years. All sentences were concurrent. Rowe also had previous convictions, including malicious wounding.The convictions were overturned in July 2000. All three men have consistently maintained their innocence.

McLibel case

McDonald's Corporation v Steel & Morris [1997] EWHC QB 366, known as "the McLibel case", was an English lawsuit for libel filed by McDonald's Corporation against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris (often referred to as "The McLibel Two") over a factsheet critical of the company. Each of two hearings in English courts found some of the leaflet's contested claims to be libellous and others to be true. The partial nature of the victory, the David-and-Goliath nature of the case, and the drawn-out litigation embarrassed McDonald's.The original case lasted nearly ten years which, according to the BBC, made it the longest-running libel case in English history. McDonald's announced it did not plan to collect the £40,000 it was awarded by the courts. Following the decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in Steel & Morris v United Kingdom the pair had been denied a fair trial, in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) and their conduct should have been protected by Article 10 of the Convention, which protects the right to freedom of expression. The court awarded a judgement of £57,000 against the UK government. McDonald's itself was not involved in, or a party to, this action, as applications to the ECHR are independent cases filed against the relevant state.

In 2013 it was revealed that one of the authors of the "McLibel leaflet", Bob Lambert, had been an undercover police officer who had infiltrated London Greenpeace. In 2016 it was revealed that a second undercover police officer, John Dines, had a sexual, romantic relationship with Helen Steel.

Franny Armstrong and Ken Loach made a documentary film, McLibel, about the case.

Relationship between the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights

The relationship between the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is an issue in European Union law and human rights law. The ECJ rules on European Union (EU) law while the ECtHR rules on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which covers the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Cases cannot be brought in the ECtHR against the European Union, but the Court has ruled that states cannot escape their human rights obligations by saying that they were implementing EU law.

Virtue Party

Virtue Party (Turkish: Fazilet Partisi, FP) was an Islamist political party established in 17 December 1997 in Turkey. It was found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court and then banned on 22 June 2001 for violating the secularist articles of the Constitution. After the party's ban, the party MPs founded two sections of parties: reformist Justice and Development Party (AKP) and traditionalist Felicity Party (SP).

Welfare Party

The Welfare Party (Turkish: Refah Partisi, RP) was an Islamist political party in Turkey. It was founded by Ali Türkmen, Ahmet Tekdal, and Necmettin Erbakan in Ankara in 1983 as heir to two earlier parties, National Order Party (MNP) and National Salvation Party (MSP), which were banned from politics. The RP participated in mayoral elections at that time and won in three cities Konya, Şanlıurfa, and Van. Their vote percentage was approximately 5%.

The Welfare Party participated in the 1991 elections in a triple alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Reformist Democracy Party (IDP). They gained 16.9% of the vote. They won 62 deputies to parliament, but 19 deputies of MHP (with founding Democratic Movement Party in 25 December 1991 and joining the MÇP in 29 December 1991) and 3 of IDP left the Welfare Party after the election. Their popular vote increased over the years until they became the largest party under Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in 1996. The coalition government of Erbakan was forced out of power by the Turkish military in 1997, due to being suspected of having an Islamist agenda.In 1998, the Welfare Party was banned from politics by the Constitutional Court of Turkey for violating the separation of religion and state as mandated by the constitution. The ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on 13 February 2003. The ECtHR's decision was criticized by Human Rights Watch for lack of consistency, as the ECtHR had refused disbanding of other parties on several occasions, but the ECtHR defended its decision.The incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was a former member of the party. After being banned from politics for a period, he left this Islamist group and founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Abdullah Gül, the former President of Turkey, was the deputy leader of the Welfare Party until its dissolution.

X. and Church of Scientology v. Sweden

X. and Church of Scientology v. Sweden (7805/77) was a case decided by European Commission of Human Rights in 1979.

Former members
International institutions
Regional bodies
Multi-lateral bodies
Major NGOs

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.