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Prisoners' Rights in Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 25 Issue: 1,2 Dated: Spring/Fall 2001 Pages: 139-147
Yue Ma
Date Published
9 pages
This article examines how the European Convention on Human Rights is being implemented in the contracting states under the enforcement mechanisms established under the Convention.
The European Convention on Human Rights was adopted by European leaders in 1950 shortly after the end of World War II. It stemmed from European leaders' belief that respect for human rights was a precondition of democracy and the rule of law. The provisions of the Convention are binding on the contracting states. The Convention has a number of provisions that relate directly to the standards of criminal justice operation. The protections provided by the Convention include the right not to be subjected to torture, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention; the right to be informed of the reasons for one's arrest; the right to be brought promptly before a judge after detention; the right to a speedy and public trial; the right to a fair hearing by an impartial tribunal; and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law. The Convention established two organs to ensure compliance: the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. The Commission does the initial screening of applications and refers to the court those cases in which the Commission believes a violation has occurred. The European Court of Human Rights has the authority to adjudicate the cases referred to it and to make a final determination regarding whether a breach of the Convention occurred. This article reviews some of the criminal justice cases considered by the court. The article concludes that the European Convention and the decisions of the European Court have played a significant role in enhancing the protection of prisoners' rights in quite a number of major European countries; however, depending on the status of the Convention in the contracting states, the Convention and the court decisions may impact the lives of people in various countries differently. 20 references