Under the Convention, which was signed in Rome
on 4 November 1950 and came into force in 1953,
the States Parties guarantee the basic civil and
political rights of a state governed by the rule
of law, not only to their own citizens but to all
persons "within their jurisdiction". States
or individuals can bring a complaint before the
Court set up by the Convention. However, the Convention
is not necessarily incorporated into each state's
national legal system. The theory of international
law whereby human rights have a fundamental character
placing them above the legislation and practices
of sovereign states is thus brought into practice.
The right to life
Article 2 protects the individual against death
inflicted arbitrarily by the State; but it does
not exclude the use of the death penalty if carried
out in accordance with the law. Protocol No. 6,
abolishing the death penalty in time of peace, was
adopted in 1985. A new protocol, abolishing death
penalty is being prepared.
The right to liberty and security
of person (Article 5)
Article 5 guarantees people physical liberty by
protecting them from arbitrary arrest and detention
and according them certain basic procedural rights.
Its provisions are extended by Article 1 of Protocol
No. 4 which prohibits imprisonment for debt.
The right to a fair trial in
civil and criminal matters (Article 6)
This right is complemented by Article 13, which
ensures the right to an effective remedy before
a national authority. Article 6 includes the condition
that the proceedings must take place within a "reasonable
time". Complaints of violations of this provision
are those most frequently brought by applicants.
The notion of a fair trial is completed by the principle
that criminal law should not be retroactive (Article
7), the right of appeal in criminal cases, the right
to compensation for wrongful conviction, and the
right not to be tried or punished twice for the
same offence (Articles 2, 3 and 4 of Protocol No.
Respect for private and family
life, home and correspondence (Article 8),
which may be linked to the right to marry and
found a family (Article 12).
The equality of rights and responsibilities
of spouses during marriage (Article 5 of Protocol
The right to freedom of expression (including freedom of the press) (Article
The requirements of this basic right are a logical
development of the rights guaranteed by Article
9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).
Freedom of peaceful assembly
and association (Article 11).
The right to peaceful enjoyment
of possessions (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1).
The right to education (Article
2 of Protocol No. 1).
The right to free elections (Article
3 of Protocol No. 1).
The Council of Europe and the
protection of human rights
Liberty of movement and freedom
to choose where to live (Article 2 of Protocol No.
What is prohibited
Torture and inhuman or degrading
treatment and punishment (Article 3).
Slavery, servitude and forced
labour (Article 4).
Discrimination in the enjoyment
of rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention
Expulsion of a state's own nationals
or denying them entry, and the collective expulsion
of aliens. (Articles 3 and 4 of Protocol No. 4)
Procedural safeguards also protect
foreigners under threat of expulsion from a country
(Article 1 of Protocol No. 7).
The Convention provides
for a European Court of Human Rights to deal with
individuals' petitions and inter-state cases. The
Judges are entirely independent and are elected
by the Parliamentary Assembly.
The Committee of Ministers
of the Council of Europe supervises the execution
of the judgment where a violation has been found,
ensuring that the state takes appropriate remedial
action, for example by means of new administrative
procedures or by legislation
Source: Council of
Europe Directorate General of Human Rights www.humanrights.coe.int