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Law and change: Scottish legal heroes
Law and change: Scottish legal heroes

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6.1 The ECHR

The ECHR is an international Treaty which is divided into sections known as Articles. States that have ratified the ECHR must provide a minimum level of protection of the rights contained in the ECHR. Individuals who consider that a state has breached its obligations (and who have exhausted all possible remedies within the court system of that state) can seek redress before the European Court of Human Rights.

The UK played a key role in drafting the ECHR and became the first nation to ratify it. At that time the UK regarded the development of human rights protections within Europe as an important part of its foreign policy.

Table 3 Summary of rights in the ECHR
Article of ECHRRight
2Right to life
3Right to be free from torture and from inhuman and degrading treatment
4Freedom from slavery and enforced labour
5Liberty of the person
6Right to a fair trial
7Freedom from retrospective punishment
8Right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
9Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
10Freedom to receive and impart ideas and information
11Freedom of association
12Right to marry and found a family
13Right to an effective remedy
14

Right to enjoy other Convention rights without discrimination

Some of the rights within the ECHR can be limited. For example, the right to private life (Article 8), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9), freedom of expression (Article 10) and freedom of assembly (Article 11) may all be restricted if the limitations are prescribed by law, are neccessary in a demoratic society and fulfill certain criteria set out for restrictions.

The European Court of Human Rights
Figure 19 The European Court of Human Rights

There are occasions when rights guaranteed in a particular Article of the ECHR conflict with rights entrenched in other provisions of the ECHR. For example, the right to freedom of expression frequently collides with the right to private life. In such cases, the conflicting interests need to be considered and a fair balance has to be struck between them. Rights enshrined in the Convention therefore also have inherent limitations.

To learn more about the work of the European Court of Human Rights watch the following video:

Download this video clip.Video player: The European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights
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