European Court of Human Rights
European court of human rights refers to an international or a supra-national court that was established by a European Convention on Human Rights. This court aims at applying and protecting political and civil rights of the citizens in the European continent. The principles of this court are stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a landmark treaty that was established after the Second World War.
The European court of human rights was established in 1959 in Strasbourg, France. It considers a wide range of cases brought to it by states, organizations and individuals against countries that are bound by this convention. All European countries except Belarus are parties to the convention.
This court hears and decides cases in different forms. These include allegations of abuses of human rights, prisoners’ mistreatment, trials being conducted improperly and discrimination among others. Despite the fact that the court does not have powers to enforce its verdicts directly, member countries are required to comply with all verdicts that it makes.
Most countries that are parties to the convention on human rights such as the United Kingdom have also incorporated the principles of the court in their laws. Cases are heard by the European court of human rights after all other domestic avenues are unable or unwilling to hear them. Thus, a case must exhaust all local legal avenues before this court hears it.
Additionally, the plaintiff must show the court that their rights have been violated directly and they are victims of the violation. Plaintiffs cannot also present cases against private bodies and individuals before the court.
Council of Europe which is a Pan-European human rights body established the court. It also oversees it till today. Council of Europe is not a branch or part of the European Union and it is a distinct entity. Judges to the European court of human rights are elected for a nine-year term that is not renewable. However, until the adoption of the protocol no. 14, judges were elected to serve for a six year term and they had an option of renewing the term.
The court has an equal number of sitting judges at any time with that of the European Convention on Human Rights. For a judge to serve in the court, they must qualify to serve in a high judicial office, be of high moral characters and be a qualified juris-consult with recognized competence.
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