The European Court of Human Rights

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The [European] Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
is known simply as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
ECHR was
the COE's first legal treaty to protect human rights.
ECHR was the first international human rights treaty
with enforceable mechanisms.
The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights
inspired the creation of the ECHR.
Only member states of the COE
can become a party to the ECHR.
ECHR's preamble provides for
"the maintenance and further realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
ECHR fundamental freedoms
"are the foundation of justice and peace in the world
The Council of Europe is made
of several institutions.
ECHR's Freedoms are best maintained
by an effective political democracy and common understanding and observance of the human rights.
The COE's treaty, ECHR, deals mainly with
civil and political rights.
The right of an individual to file a complaint (article 25)
obliges the states to accept the Court as having authority to rule over issues from within that state.
International legal instruments
take the form of a treaty.
Treaties are also called
agreements, conventions, and protocols.
Treaties, Agreements, Conventions and Protocols
may be binding on the contracting states.
When negotiations are completed
the text of a treaty is established as authentic and definitive and is "signed" to that effect by the representatives of states.
There are several ways a state binds itself to a treaty
the most common being ratification or accession.
A new treaty is "ratified" by those states
that have negotiated the instrument.
A state that has not participated in the negotiations
may later "accede" to the treaty.
The treaty "enters into force"
when a pre-determined number of states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.
The Court was established
with the ECHR on 3 September 1953.
The Court is located in
Strasbourg.
The Court has jurisdiction over
member states that have accepted the Court's jurisdiction.
Court decisions regarding an individual country
are binding once a state agrees to the jurisdiction of the Court.
Judges are elected to the Court
by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
The original structure of the Court Court
provided for a two-tier system of rights protection.
The European Commission of Human Rights
is now obsolete.
The number of Court cases grew from 16 between 1960 and 1975
to 119 cases in 1997 alone.
Protocol 11 eliminated
the Commission of Human Rights.
Protocol 11 replaced
the former system.
A new European Court of Human Rights
replaced the former system.
The Court accepts
applications of instances of human rights violations.
Applications from individuals as well as states
are accepted by the Court
States seldom submit allegations against another state
unless the violation is severe.
For an application to be accepted by the Court
all domestic legal remedies must have been exhausted.
A non-anonymous Court petitioner must bring the case
to the Court within six months of the final domestic ruling on it.
An issue before the Court must be
a violation of a guarantee set forth in the European Convention.
The Court applicant must
be a "victim."
Petitioners may not
repeat the substance of a previous petition.
The Court holds
a public hearing to determine if there has been a violation to the Convention.
In the Court the number of judges
are usually nine judges sitting a Chamber.
Originally, the number of judges were
seven , including one from the country in question.
In rare instances, the Court can seat
a Grand Chamber consisting of 21 judges.
If an application filed with the Court is declared admissible
the Court advocates reaching a friendly settlement.
An applicant to the Court is encouraged to reach a settlement,
which ranges from a change in the law(s) to compensation.
Chamber judgments may be appealed to the Grand Chamber
until they become final after three months.
Grand Chamber judgments
are always final.
All judgments are binding
under international law.
Judgments may be delivered
in court or in writing.
Once the Court considers a case a violation,
states are obliged to prevent similar violations.
"Just satisfaction"
can be awarded to victims.
The award given to a Victim in a "Just satisfaction" case
may be given compensation paid by the state at fault.
The judgments of the Courts are monitored by
the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The Courts are monitored
to ensure compensation is paid.
The Committee of Ministers help victims by
reopening proceedings, lifting bans, striking a police record, and granting residence.
The Committee of Ministers sees that
the requisite changes are made following a judgment.
Changes that are made after a judgment include
changes in legislation, case law, rules, and practices.
Building prisons or the appointment of new domestic judges
are changes that may be made after a judgement.
Although the European Commission on Human Rights became obsolete in 1998
it held an important role helping the Court from 1953 to 1998.
Commission members of the European Commission
acted independently, without allegiance to any state.
Commission member of the European Commission examined
the petition to determine the facts of the case and look for parties that could help settle the case in a friendly manner.