In addition, the European Convention on Human Rights protects the rights adopted in subsequent protocols. These are, among others the right to property, the right to education, the right to free movement or the ban on expulsion from the territory of the state. Not all Additional Protocols containing individual substantive rights have been ratified by all States Parties to the Convention, so it is necessary to check whether a given State against which we want to lodge our application with the Strasbourg Court is bound by the relevant protocol.
Under Article 34 of the ECHR, any natural person, legal person, group of persons or organization that considers that its rights under the Convention or its protocols have been violated has/have the right to lodge a complaint. This is a so-called individual complaint, which is the basis of the system of protection of human rights in 47 countries of Council of Europe. The complaint may only refer to a violation of the rights or freedoms set out in the Convention and its Protocols. It is equally important that an individual complaint to the European Court of Human Rights may refer only to actions of the state or its agents. Therefore, it is not possible to file a complaint to the ECHR against a natural person or a private organization.
There is also a category of interstate complaints. The parties to the process are the countries that have signed the Convention. Such cases, however, are rare these days. Most often, individual complaints are submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Convention requires the exhaustion of domestic remedies available in the state (with some exceptions, as mentioned in this entry). Therefore, a complaint mechanism before the ECtHR requires, in principle, to go through the entire process of instance and sometimes to use specific judicial measures, such as a complaint about excessive length of proceedings. However, the ECHR does not require the applicants to use any extraordinary measures, such as complaints to the Ombudsman or complaints about the reopening of proceedings.
A complaint to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg must be brought not later than within 6 months from the date of the decision by the last required instance in the country or from the date of receipt by the party of such a decision with reasons. Any application submitted after this deadline will automatically be rejected as not meeting the admissibility criteria. Determining the right date is not always obvious, the most frequently asked questions in this regard are answered in this article.
It is worth adding that at the begining you do not need to know any of the official languages of the Court, i.e. English and French. Complaints are accepted in any of the languages of the Council of Europe. However, it should be remembered that after the case is communicated to the government by the ECtHR, communication with the Court will be conducted only in French or English, and it is mandatory to use the help of professional representatives (attorney-at-law or advocate).
We wrote here about what should be included in the complaint to the ECHR.
Not everyone can afford a lawyer. Therefore, it is possible to grant an applicant legal aid on the basis of a declaration of income, assets and financial obligations. Legal aid is granted to an applicant only at the stage where his application has been communicated to the Government (it is impossible to grant legal aid before communication of the case) and only covers part of the costs of representation by a professional lawyer, a lump sum to be fixed by the Court.
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