Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a key provision that safeguards the right to liberty and security. This article sets out various safeguards against arbitrary detention and outlines the conditions under which individuals can be deprived of their liberty.
Article 5 – Right to Liberty and Security
Right to liberty: Article 5(1) states that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law.
Grounds for deprivation of liberty: Article 5(1) goes on to list the specific grounds on which an individual can be deprived of their liberty. These grounds include:
- The lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
- The lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
- The lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
- The detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
- The lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants; and
- The lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.
Procedural safeguards: Article 5 requires that any deprivation of liberty must be carried out in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. This means that there must be clear and specific legal provisions authorising detention, and these provisions must be applied fairly and consistently.
Right to be informed of reasons: Article 5(2) guarantees that anyone who is arrested or detained has the right to be promptly informed, in a language they understand, of the reasons for his arrest or detention. This is essential to ensure transparency and prevent arbitrary detention.
Right to challenge detention: Article 5(4) states that anyone who is deprived of his liberty has the right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention before a court. This right is crucial for individuals to seek a remedy if they believe their detention is unlawful or unjust.
Right to speedy review: Article 5(4) also requires that individuals must be brought promptly before a court to have the lawfulness of their detention reviewed. This review should be conducted with due process and within a reasonable time.
Right to compensation for unlawful detention: Article 5(5) ensures that individuals who have been unlawfully detained are entitled to compensation. This provision is designed to provide redress for individuals who have suffered due to unjust or arbitrary deprivation of their liberty.
In summary, Article 5 of the ECHR is a fundamental provision that safeguards the right to liberty and security. It establishes strict criteria for lawful detention, requires procedural safeguards, and guarantees the right to challenge detention before a court. These protections are crucial for preventing arbitrary detention and ensuring that individuals' rights are respected when they are deprived of their liberty.