European Convention on Human Rights

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was drafted by the Council of Ministers in November 1950 and came into force in 1953. It was drafted as a way of ensuring the horrors and abuses of world war two were never repeated by outlining fundamental rights and freedoms that would be respected and enjoyed by all citizens equally.


Section one of the ECHR contains the articles relating to rights and freedoms, including

  • Art. 2) the right to life;
  • Art. 3) the prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment;
  • Art. 4) the prohibition of slavery and forced labour;
  • Art. 5) the right to liberty and security;
  • Art. 6) the right to a fair trial;
  • Art. 7) no punishment without law;
  • Art. 8) the right to respect for private and family life;
  • Art. 9) Freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
  • Art. 10) freedom of assembly;
  • Art. 11) freedom of assembly and association;
  • Art. 12) right to marry;
  • Art. 13) right to an effective remedy;
  • Art. 14) Prohibition of discrimination.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), based in Strasbourg, was established in 1959 as the international court to adjudicate and implement the convention. Individuals or states can petition the court alleging violations of the rights protected in the convention.  The ECtHR has made a number of important judgements concerning the conflict in this jurisdiction, including the failure of the state to properly investigate deaths involving state actors (the ‘procedural obligation’ enshrined in Art. 2).

In 1978 the Strasbourg court ruled on the first inter-state case brought by the Irish government against the British government alleging torture, inhuman and degrading treatment against 14 internees in 1971 known as “the hooded men.” The ECtHR held that the treatment was inhuman and degrading, but stopped short of constituting torture1. Declassified government documents found by the PFC and RTE suggest that important evidence was withheld from the ECtHR, and has resulted in the Irish government asking the court in 2014 to revise the original judgement and find that the treatment did, in fact, amount to torture. The ECtHR has not yet ruled on whether this application is admissible.

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Latest Articles

  • PFC's latest submission to the Committee of Ministers

    The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC, Derry/Armagh/Belfast, Northern Ireland) in conjunction with Justice for the Forgotten (JFF, Dublin) wishes to make the following Rule 9 submission to the Committee of Ministers on its supervision of the following cases relating to security force actions in Northern...
  • In the matter of an application by Geraldine Finucane for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland)

    Background to the Supreme Court case along with links to the hearings.
  • PFC submission to Committee of Ministers

    The Committee of Ministers meet this week (12th - 14th March 2019) to examine the implementation of judgements & decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In advance of this meeting, PFC provided a written submission to the Committee outlining our concerns regarding the ongoing failure of the...
  • PFC submission to Committee of Ministers re McKerr & ors v UK

    Below is the PFC's recent submission to the Committee of Ministers concerning the McKerr group of cases. We have also attached the statement by the Irish Government to the CoM and their response issued today. Copies of other useful documents can be found on the Council of Europe website and the...
  • British Lies to European Court Paved Way for Global Use of Torture

    When the European Court ruled that detainees in Northern Ireland were NOT tortured but only subjected to "inhuman and degrading" treatment, it gave the green light to other regimes worldwide. New evidence shows the court's ruling was based on false evidence - yet people are still being tortured...

Declassified Documents

  • The "Hooded Men"- Irish State case

    In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the British government had violated Article 3 of the European Commission on Human Rights in their treatment of 14 men in 1971. These "Hooded Men" had been selected for 5 techniques of "Deep Interrogation" - white noise, wall standing/ stress positions, sleep deprivation, bread and water diet, and hooding...
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  • 1974 Memo

    Note of a meeting in the Northern Ireland Office on 13 November 1974 including officials from various ministries, the Attorney General's Office and the Treasury Solicitor's Office. The 'Counsel' referred to in the document is almost certainly the legal counsel representing the British Government at the European court case taken by the Irish Government in respect of multiple violations of...
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