The European human rights framework refers to the system of protecting and promoting human rights in Europe, primarily through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The framework aims to safeguard fundamental rights and freedoms for individuals within the member states of the Council of Europe.
- European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): The ECHR is an international treaty established in 1950. It outlines a comprehensive set of civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and security, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. It has been ratified by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
- European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): The ECtHR is the judicial body responsible for interpreting and applying the ECHR. It is based in Strasbourg, France, and provides a forum for individuals, groups, or states to bring complaints alleging violations of their rights under the ECHR. The court’s decisions are legally binding on member states and play a crucial role in shaping human rights standards across Europe.
- Protocol System: The ECHR has been supplemented by various protocols that expand and strengthen its provisions. These protocols address specific issues, such as the abolition of the death penalty, the prohibition of torture, and the protection of fundamental freedoms. Member states can choose to ratify these protocols, and their provisions become legally binding once ratified.
- European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT): The CPT is a monitoring body that visits places of detention in member states to ensure compliance with the ECHR. Its role is to prevent torture and ill-treatment by conducting regular visits and making recommendations to improve detention conditions.
- European Union (EU) and Human Rights: While the EU and the Council of Europe are separate entities, both share a commitment to human rights. The EU has its own Charter of Fundamental Rights, which reflects many of the rights protected under the ECHR. EU member states are also bound by the ECHR, and the ECtHR’s decisions are taken into account by EU institutions.
- Other Instruments and Bodies: In addition to the ECHR and ECtHR, other instruments and bodies contribute to the European human rights framework. These include the European Social Charter, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Committee of Ministers, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, among others.
Overall, the European human rights framework provides a robust system for protecting and promoting human rights in Europe, with the ECHR and the ECtHR at its core. The framework aims to ensure that individuals within Europe can enjoy their fundamental rights and hold states accountable for any violations.