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