50 Cases Where the European Court of Human Rights made a real difference

Adam Wagner on the brilliant  Human Rights Info Blog has compiled a list of 50 important cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights.

Any list inherently leaves out others that could have been included but it is a good selection that easily gives anyone who is unfamiliar with the court and idea of what it does for the people of Europe.

The classic nationalist objection is that “our country could do that anyway“.  The point is that at least one country in the Council of Europe did not do so and someone had to seek the court’s protection.

In some of the cases the decision is not necessarily the last word.  For example, in the infamous and widely misrepresented Hirst v UK case the court did not say that all prisoners must vote but that a blanket ban was unsustainable and Parliament should legislate to take account of the different reasons why people can be in prison.

Here is the list of 50 cases:

No. Case Year Summary
1 A and others 2004 You can’t imprison people without charge
2 Goodwin 2005 Journalists’ sources must be protected
3 Smith and Grady 1999 Openly gay soldiers can serve in the Armed Forces
4 Dudgeon 1981 Being gay is not a crime
5 Pretty 2002 Criminalising assisted suicide doesn’t breach human rights
6 S and Marper 2008 Police can’t keep DNA of acquitted people forever
7 Ghaidan 2004 Gay people are treated equally in inheritance matters
8 Sunday Times 1979 Newspapers have freedom to report legal cases if in the public interest
9 Hirst 2005 You can’t ban every prisoner from voting
10 Peck 2003 A council shouldn’t have given CCTV suicide footage to the media
11 Daly 2001 We’ve a right to private legal correspondence, even in jail
12 Soering 1989 The Risk of inhuman death row conditions stopped a man’s extradition
13 Gillan and Quinton 2010 Police stop and search powers can’t be limitlless
14 Laporte 2006 Police shouldn’t have stopped war protest bus
15 McCann 1995 The security services can’t shoot to kill without good reason
16 Malone 1984 Police need a warrant to tap our phones
17 Rabone 2012 Hospitals must protect vulnerable patients at risk of suicide
18 Golder 1975 Prisoners must be able to contact their solicitors
19 Chahal 1996 You can’t be sent back to a real risk of torture
20 Tyrer 1978 Caning a child is wrong
21 Naomi Campbell 2004 A supermodel’s privacy was breached by a tabloid rehab scoop
22 Abu Qatada 2012 Everyone has protection from torture and unfair trials, including suspected terrorists
23 HJ (Iran) 2010 Gay and lesbian people can’t be returned to persecution
24 Bernard 2002 Councils must provide adequate housing for the disabled
25 Ireland v UK 1978 Deep interrogation’ techniques are inhuman and degrading
26 HL 2004 Mental health detention needs proper safeguards
27 Simms 1999 Journalists must be able to interview prisoners
28 Cheshire West 2014 Mentally incapacitated people have same rights to liberty as everyone else
29 Handyside 1976 Offensive ideas need to be protected too
30 Z v UK 2001 Local authorities can be legally liable for child abuse where they have failed to act
31 Austin 2009 The police can “kettle” demonstrators to keep the peace
32 DSD 2014 Police must investigate rape claims
33 YL 2007 Private residential care homes should be protected by human rights laws
34 Al-Jedda 2011 Even the Army can’t imprison without charge forever
35 A v UK 1998 You can’t beat up your child
36 Liberty 2008 The Government can’t have unlimited spying powers
37 Eweida 2013 Employers must respect religious beliefs
38 Pincohet 1999 Public officials can’t hide behind immunity in war crimes cases
39 L 2013 You’re not responsible for crimes forced to commit when trafficked
40 Somerset 1772 Slavery is odious
41 Osman 1998 The police have a duty to protect our right to life
42 Christine Goodwin 2002 Transsexuals can marry who they like
43 Nicklinson 2014 Assisting suicide is still a crime, but watch this space
44 RH 2001 You can’t be detained without medical proof of why
45 ZH (Tanzania) 2011 Children’s views are key in deportation cases
46 Vinter 2012 Whole life’ sentences must be reviewable
47 T & R 2014 The police can’t keep you on their database for ever
48 Savage 2008 The state must do all it can to protect potential suicide victims
49 Steven Neary 2011 Families and disabled people have a say on decisions about care
50 European Roma Rights Centre 2004 There can be no race barriers to asylum


* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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