The European Convention on Human Rights, also known as the (ECHR), was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1950 and came into force in 1953. It has been one of the most important developments in international human rights law since the Second World War and has grown with the addition of new member states, although many countries have still not joined it. While it creates many rights, it also leaves others to be implemented by national legislation and can be interpreted differently by different member states.
What is the European Convention on Human Rights?
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. It was adopted in 1950 as a common standard of achievement for all countries signing it, with one additional protocol extending its reach to 1998. The convention create a Commission that monitors violations of it by its member states and an enforcement mechanism that brings complaints before an international tribunal if there has been such a violation. There are also mechanisms for cooperation and liaison with EU institutions such as the European Court of Justice and the European Commission. The convention has more than 180 parties around Europe; one reason for its popularity may be that many countries in Europe have not yet signed up to the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Purpose of the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a human rights treaty, and thus binds only states. Although it is inspired by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it extends considerably further than its parent, setting down specific civil and political rights and also including economic, social, and cultural rights. As a Council of Europe treaty with legal personality, alongside those of other European international organizations such as those relating to human trafficking or refugees. Therefore it may be regarded as one of three key founding treaties alongside that establishing the European Community and that setting up Euratom.
Why is the European Convention so Important?
First, you should know that it’s not technically a treaty, and it isn’t an international law. Although it isn’t strictly binding, countries who sign on agree to adhere to its tenets or are vulnerable to lawsuits from other members of states whose rights have been violated. It’s been used as a tool by people to settle civil suits all over Europe for everything from alleged discrimination in employment practices in European countries up to cases dealing with death penalty policies. But that doesn’t mean you can just sue someone whenever you feel like your rights have been infringed upon. There are strict limitations and protections within its articles. Here are some things which you need to know about ECHR.
1) Protect Yourself from Search
We’ve already touched on how you can use modern technology to protect yourself from search. But you might not know that two human rights organizations monitor public compliance with European Convention on Human Rights. They’re called: The Council of Europe and The European Court of Human Rights. Both of these organizations do a great job protecting individuals against unlawful search and seizure, as well as offering information and suggestions for individuals who have been victims of unlawful search and seizure.
2) Avoid Interrogation if Possible
The European Court of Human Rights is a valuable tool for any individual in Europe who believes their rights have been violated. However, do not forget about your domestic legal system and resources. Even if you are not required to exhaust them before turning to international courts, it might be advantageous to utilize all available channels of justice to enhance your chances of success.
3) Access a Lawyer Immediately
If you have concerns about whether your human rights have been violated, or if you are not satisfied with a recent court decision (for example if it is related to family law), you must take action right away. The European Court of Human Rights takes cases only after all domestic remedies have been exhausted. This means you must first appeal directly to your national court system before you can ask for help from Strasbourg.
4) Build Your Defense Strategically
The European Court of Human Rights can, and often does, refer cases back to national courts for a second look. Rather than accepting all legal decisions at face value, you need to understand that there are other legal resources available if your case is rejected by a lower court. This is another argument in favor of seeking counsel who knows both national and international laws. After all, your best chance at success is to use every tool in your box to get justice.
5) Make Use of All Legal Resources at Hand
Everyone knows to complain about your rights under a certain law. But few people do it. The situation with ECHR is similar: The complaints are going to be sent only in exceptional cases, and it’s up to you to make sure that your case meets all criteria and is valid enough for a positive outcome. Contacting a lawyer who specializes in human rights can help you decide what actions need to be taken, so make use of all resources at hand! 5) Make Use of All Legal Resources at Hand: Everyone knows to complain about your rights under a certain law. But few people do it.
6) Never Talk to Police
When law enforcement shows up, don’t talk to them. Yes, you have a right to remain silent. In some cases, you may even have a right to leave. If you do speak with the police, anything you say can be used against you or your loved ones in court. It’s never worth giving up your rights and ending up with charges just because you want to help out an overzealous cop or prosecutor.
7) If Arrested — Remain Silent
In most cases, police officers have no right to question you without first reading you your Miranda rights. If they do, anything you say after that point can be used against you in court. So if an officer asks whether you were speeding or something else unrelated to your arrest, politely ask him or her to refrain from asking questions until they’ve read you your rights. This will buy some time and also make it harder for prosecutors to use what happened before your arrest as evidence against you in court. Even better: I would like a lawyer before answering any questions — as long as they haven’t yet arrested you and read you your Miranda rights!