8 questions about the ECHR

What is the ECHR?

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is an international court set up to protect respect for human rights in Europe. It was established in 1959 and is based in Strasbourg (France).

How does the ECHR work?

The ECHR operates like a supreme court. Broadly speaking, it examines cases brought before it by individuals, companies or organisations who believe that their fundamental rights have been violated. The Court is made up of judges elected by the Member States for a nine-year term.

What rights does the ECHR protect?

The ECHR protects a wide range of fundamental freedoms such as the right to life, the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and security, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to an education…

How can individuals lodge complaints with the ECHR?

Individuals can lodge a complaint with the ECHR if they believe their rights have been violated by a Council of Europe member state. They must first exhaust all available national remedies before taking their case to the Court. They may also be represented by a lawyer or any other person of their choice.

How long does it take for the ECHR to reach a decision?

The time taken for the ECHR to issue a decision depends on the complexity of the case and the number of cases pending. Often, it only takes a few months. Sometimes it takes several years. However, in urgent cases, the Court may issue an interim decision.

Are ECHR decisions binding?

Yes, the decisions of the ECHR are binding on the Member States that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. States must take the necessary measures to implement the Court’s decisions.

What powers does the ECHR have?

The ECHR has the power to rule on whether Member States have violated the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. It can also award reparations and damages to victims.

What is the role of the Member States in the ECHR process?

Member States are obliged to respect the decisions of the ECHR and to take the necessary measures to implement them. They may also submit observations to the Court on cases that concern them.

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