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“Terrorism, Civil Liberties, and Political Rights:

The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)[5] was opened for signature in 1950. Ratifying the Convention obliges member states to observe certain of the human rights in the Universal Declaration, notably those essential for the preservation and working of a participatory democracy. Individuals who claim that their rights have been denied can take their case to the European Court of Human Rights whose decisions are binding on governments. Since the Human Rights Act 1998, the ECHR must be taken into account in UK law. Since the UK has no written constitution, the ECHR effectively acts as a constitutional instrument.

In summary the rights in the ECHR are:

Personal rights

  • the right to life, liberty and security of person, including the enjoyment of family life and possessions and privacy in the home and in correspondence
  • the right to a fair trial
  • the right to education

Fundamental freedoms

  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • freedom of expression (including for the press)
  • freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the right to form trade unions

Prohibition of:

  • torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, including slavery and forced labour
  • retro-active criminal legislation
  • the death penalty
  • expulsion or refusal of entry to nationals
  • collective expulsion of aliens