The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assemby in 1948 and contains 30 Articles.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. It entered into force in 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.

It comprises 18 Articles and 13 Convention protocols.

There are two articles that are significant for victims:

  • Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence
  • Article 13 provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention.

Wikipedia writes: a fair and just trial might be impeded by:

  • Corruption or incompetence (judicial or otherwise)
  • Contempt of court (typically by the media or jurors)
  • Witness intimidation
  • A lack of legal counsel, or inequality of arms
  • Undue delay in procedure
  • Non-disclosure of evidence, through malice or through abuse of State Secrets Privilege (in the USA) or Public Interest Immunity (in the UK).

In the UK, the Public Interest Immunity is generally granted through Royal Charters. The Human Rights Act 1998 is virtually a copy of the European version, with the following notable exemptions:

  • Article 1 – binds the signatory parties to secure the rights under the other Articles of the Convention “within their jurisdiction“.
  • Article 13 – provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention.

Furthermore, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union lists all of the economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the European Union. Chapter 6 on Justice contains Article 47 that combines the right to an effective remedy with the right to a fair trial.

Comments are welcome, especially on our latest online petition that addresses the lack of human rights in the UK!

And you may want to look at how we are exploring European territory with five key cases.

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