European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international treaty established by the Council of Europe in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The Convention has been ratified by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe, including the European Union.

The ECHR sets out a number of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture and slavery, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the right to privacy:
  1. The right to life: This right is enshrined in Article 2 of the ECHR and protects individuals from arbitrary deprivation of life. This includes not only the state's duty to refrain from intentionally killing someone, but also its obligation to take positive steps to protect an individual's life.
  2. Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: This right is outlined in Article 3 of the ECHR and prohibits torture, as well as inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This includes any act that causes severe physical or mental pain or suffering, whether it is inflicted by state authorities or by private individuals.
  3. Prohibition of slavery and forced labour: Article 4 of the ECHR prohibits slavery, servitude, forced labour and human trafficking. This right ensures that no one can be held in slavery or forced to work against their will.
  4. The right to liberty and security of person: This right is guaranteed by Article 5 of the ECHR and protects individuals from arbitrary detention or imprisonment. It also guarantees the right to a fair trial for those who are detained.
  5. The right to a fair trial: This right is enshrined in Article 6 of the ECHR and guarantees the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal. This includes the right to legal representation, the presumption of innocence, and the right to examine witnesses.
  6. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion: This right is outlined in Article 9 of the ECHR and protects the right to hold and express personal beliefs and convictions, including the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs.
  7. Freedom of expression, including freedom of speech, press and assembly: This right is protected by Article 10 of the ECHR and ensures that individuals have the right to express their opinions, thoughts and ideas, as well as to receive and impart information and ideas without interference from state authorities. This includes the right to freedom of speech, press, assembly and association. However, this right can be limited in certain circumstances, such as for the protection of national security or public safety.

The Convention also establishes a system for monitoring compliance with its provisions, including the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which has the power to hear complaints from individuals and states regarding alleged violations of the Convention.

The ECHR is widely considered to be one of the most important international human rights treaties, and has played a significant role in the development of human rights law in Europe and beyond. Its provisions have been incorporated into the national laws of many member states, and the ECtHR has issued numerous landmark rulings on issues such as freedom of expression, asylum, and discrimination.

In addition to the ECHR, the Council of Europe has also adopted a number of additional protocols and conventions aimed at protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
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