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EuropeanConventionHandbookForPolice

Policing and the

Policing and the European Convention on Human Rights Page 11 Such values are expressed in the case law of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. The task of the European Court of Human Rights is to give practical guidance through the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights as and when cases come before it. These cases will involve specific facts based upon individual systems of domestic law and practice, but underlying this jurisprudence are certain principles of universal application. For example, a case arising in Turkey can have major ramifications for France or for the United Kingdom, as with access to legal representation while in police custody. 5 In the same manner, a judgment involving the policing of street protests in Austria may have important consequences for police officers anywhere in Europe in respect of how the police deal with counter-demonstrators. 6 The aim of this publication is to help explain to police officers the impact of key standards, and in particular, those legally binding provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (the ‘Strasbourg Court’). Other European standards stress the importance of selection, training, and the enhancement of a sense of professionalism on the part of police officers. 7 The discussion that follows seeks to help develop that understanding and awareness of the responsibilities of police officers as they protect society. Policing inevitably involves interferences with the human rights of individuals, but whether such interferences will be considered justified or whether they will be condemned as violations of human rights will often turn on the approach taken by the individual police officer on the spot. This manual will assist the police officer in adopting a human rights approach to daily work. This introductory chapter is designed to help police officers gain an insight into the emergence of European standards of relevance in the discharge of policing. The focus is upon the Council of Europe, the organisation based in Strasbourg, France. The Council of Europe (the Europe of 47 Member States) is distinct from the European Union (which now has 28 Member States). While there are aspects of policing now affected by a State’s membership of the European Union, this work is concerned exclusively with the Council of Europe and its institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights. 5 See Salduz v Turkey, judgment of 27 November 2008, discussed at p. 86 below. 6 See Plattform Ärzte für das Leben v Austria, judgment of 21 June 1988, discussed at p. 103 below. 7 See pp. 110-116 below.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 12 The work of the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organisation founded upon the principles of pluralist democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. It was one of several European initiatives which sought to bring western liberal democracies closer together on the basis of shared values, whilst also resisting the further spread of totalitarianism. As a result of increasing membership after the fall of communist regimes, the Council of Europe now has 47 member states. The activities of the Council of Europe include the consolidation of democratic stability through legislative and constitutional reform, and the finding of common solutions to contemporary challenges facing the continent in such matters as terrorism, organised crime and trafficking in human beings. There are three main approaches to its work: first, standard-setting (in particular, by means of securing agreement to international treaties, but also through the making of recommendations and resolutions, and the gradual emergence of standards in the course of the work of monitoring bodies); secondly, monitoring of implementation of state obligations (in particular, through the work of bodies established by treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights); and thirdly, co-operation with member states and non-governmental organisations (for example, in promoting institutional capacity-building and legislative reform through training and compatibility studies). Each of these has a particular relevance for police services in Europe. The focus here, though, is upon the first, and in particular, on the establishment of binding legal norms following the commitment of States to give effect to the guarantees contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights entered into force in 1953. Its preamble affirms the Council of Europe’s aim of achieving greater unity between States inter alia through ‘the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms’. Such rights are considered to be ‘the foundation of justice and peace in the world [which] are best maintained on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend’. While the text of the European Convention on Human Rights was strongly influenced by international law, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in turn has influenced the jurisprudence of other international and regional tribunals, helping establish the universality of human rights norms. But while the Convention can now be relied upon by some 820 million