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Human Rights Law
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is based in Strasbourg, France and is the European Judicial body responsible for the examination of cases of violations of the humans rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights ( came into force in 1950), which principally concerns civil and political rights.
The ECHR has jurisdiction to examine complaints – applications submitted either by individuals (person, group, company or non-governmental organization) or States. It cannot take up a case on its own initiative. The access to the ECHR and the right to submit an application is not restricted only to individuals who are citizens of a State Party. However, complaints submitted to the Court must concern violations of the Convention allegedly committed by a State Party to the Convention and that directly and significantly affected the applicant.
It is important, to submit a duly completed application form accompanied with all the relevant evidential material since, once the application is submitted the ECHR will decide on its admissibility. This is the first main stage in the consideration of cases which is handled by a single judge. For an application to be admissible there are certain requirements which must be met such as: a) before submitting an application to the ECHR, for the applicant to exhaust all domestic remedies, b) submit his application within six months from the date the final nation decision was given, c) his complain is against a State which have ratified the Convention and that c) he has suffered a significant disadvantage.
The State against which the application is submitted, receives a notification by the ECHR and both parties are instructed to provide observations. Observations may include specific information requested by the Chamber or President of the Section examining the application or any other material that the parties decide is relevant.
If the Court ultimately decides a case in favor of the applicant, it may award just satisfaction (monetary compensation for the damages suffered) and require the State to cover the cost of bringing the case. If the Court finds that there has been no violation, then the applicant is not liable for the State’s legal expenses.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is responsible for enforcing the Court’s judgments. States are bound by the decisions of the Court and must execute them accordingly. Often this means amending legislation to ensure that the violation does not continue to occur. However, the Court does not have the authority to overrule a national decision or annul national laws.