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The European Court of Human Rights - What is it and what does it do?



In the field of human rights protection, in addition to the international system, usually represented by the United Nations (UN), some regional organizations have established mechanisms for the promotion and protection of these rights.


The European System for the Protection of Human Rights is based on the enshrinement of various rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - or just the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).


The rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention include the right to life, a fair trial, respect for private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the protection of property. The Convention prohibits, inter alia, torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, forced labor, arbitrary and unlawful detention and discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms enshrined therein. (Source: https://www.echr.coe.int/documents/d/echr/50questions_POR ).


 



In order to ensure that the commitments resulting from the ECHR and its protocols are respected, a permanent international judicial body was created, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).


The ECtHR's mission is "to ensure that the rights and guarantees set out in the Convention are respected by States". When a person considers that one or more of their rights have been violated by a state that is part of the Council of Europe, they can lodge a complaint with the ECtHR.



These criteria are set out in Article 35 of the ECHR and include:


 

An important question is whether or not it is obligatory to appoint a lawyer to initiate proceedings before the ECtHR.


At the initial stage of filing a complaint, an individual is not obliged to be represented by a lawyer. However, a lawyer can assist in understanding and fulfilling the admissibility criteria, preventing the complaint from being initially rejected by the Court.


Once the admissibility phase is over, the process reaches a second phase, in which the State against which a complaint has been lodged can submit observations, justifying and indicating the meaning of its action or omission. At this stage, the participation of a lawyer will be necessary, as the various allegations made by the parties involved in the case will have to be analyzed and legally countered.


Being accompanied by a lawyer who is qualified to practice law in one of the States Parties to the Convention, as well as who understands how the ECtHR works and has experience in international litigation, may be the best way for your complaint to be analyzed and corroborated by the Court.

Fio has a dedicated Human Rights Litigation Desk that can answer your questions about filing a complaint and the process at the European Court of Human Rights.


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