Being Free

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How to Get Happy

Happiness is ephemeral, subject to the vagaries of everything from the weather to the size of your bank account.

We’re not suggesting that you can reach a permanent state called “happiness” and remain there. But there are many ways to swerve off the path of anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness into a state of happiness once or even several times throughout the day. Here are 20 ideas to get you started. Choose the ones that work for you. If tuning out the news or making lists will serve only to stress you further, try another approach.

1. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment. Instead of worrying about your checkup tomorrow while you have dinner with your family, focus on the here and now — the food, the company, the conversation.

2. Laugh out loud. Just anticipating a happy, funny event can raise levels of endorphins and other pleasure-inducing hormones and lower production of stress hormones. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, tested 16 men who all agreed they thought a certain videotape was funny. Half were told three days in advance they would watch it. They started experiencing biological changes right away. When they actually watched the video, their levels of stress hormones dropped significantly, while their endorphin levels rose 27 percent and their growth hormone levels (indicating benefit to the immune system) rose 87 percent.

3. Go to sleep. We have become a nation of sleep-deprived citizens. Taking a daily nap or getting into bed at 8 p.m. one night with a good book — and turning the light out an hour later — can do more for your mood and outlook on life than any number of bubble baths or massages.

4. Hum along. Music soothes more than the savage beast. Studies find music activates parts of the brain that produce happiness — the same parts activated by food or sex. It’s also relaxing. In one study older adults who listened to their choice of music during outpatient eye surgery had significantly lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cardiac workload (that is, their heart didn’t have to work as hard) as those who had silent surgery.

5. Declutter. It’s nearly impossible to meditate, breathe deeply, or simply relax when every surface is covered with papers and bills and magazines, your cabinets bulge, and you haven’t balanced your checkbook in six months. Plus, the repetitive nature of certain cleaning tasks — such as sweeping, wiping, and scrubbing — can be meditative in and of itself if you focus on what you’re doing.

6. Just say no. Eliminate activities that aren’t necessary and that you don’t enjoy. If there are enough people already to handle the church bazaar and you’re feeling stressed by the thought of running the committee for yet another year, step down and let someone else handle things.

7. Make a list. There’s nothing like writing down your tasks to help you organize your thoughts and calm your anxiety. Checking off each item provides a great sense of fulfillment.

8. Do one thing at a time. Edward Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor of medical psychology at Duke, found that people who multitask are more likely to have high blood pressure. Take that finding to heart. Instead of talking on the phone while you fold laundry or clean the kitchen, sit down in a comfortable chair and turn your entire attention over to the conversation. Instead of checking e-mail as you work on other projects, turn off your e-mail function until you finish the report you’re writing. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness.

9. Garden. Not only will the fresh air and exercise provide their own stress reduction and feeling of well-being, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from clearing a weedy patch, watching seeds turn into flowers, or pruning out dead wood will last for hours, if not days.

10. Tune out the news. For one week go without reading the newspaper, watching the news, or scanning the headlines online. Instead, take a vacation from the misery we’re exposed to every day via the media and use that time for a walk, a meditation session, or to write in your journal.

11. Take a dog for a walk. There are numerous studies that attest to the stress-relieving benefits of pets. In one analysis researchers evaluated the heart health of 240 couples, half of whom owned a pet. Those couples with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels when exposed to stressors than the couples who did not have pets. In fact, the pets worked even better at buffering stress than the spouses did.

12. Scent the air. Research finds that the benefits of aromatherapy in relieving stress are real. In one study people exposed to rosemary had lower anxiety levels, increased alertness, and performed math computations faster. Adults exposed to lavender showed an increase in the type of brain waves that suggest increased relaxation. Today you have a variety of room-scenting methods, from plug-in air fresheners to essential oil diffusers, potpourri, and scented candles.

13. Ignore the stock market. Simply getting your quarterly 401(k) statement can be enough to send your blood pressure skyrocketing. In fact, Chinese researchers found a direct link between the daily performance of the stock market and the mental health of those who closely followed it. Astute investors know that time heals most financial wounds, so give your investments time — and give yourself a break.

14. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

15. Volunteer. Helping others enables you to put your own problems into perspective and also provides social interaction. While happy people are more likely to help others, helping others increases your happiness. One study found that volunteer work enhanced all six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.

16. Spend time alone. Although relationships are one of the best antidotes to stress, sometimes you need time alone to recharge and reflect. Take yourself out to lunch or to a movie, or simply spend an afternoon reading, browsing in a bookstore, or antiquing.

17. Walk mindfully. You probably already know that exercise is better than tranquilizers for relieving anxiety and stress. But what you do with your mind while you’re walking can make your walk even more beneficial. In a study called the Ruth Stricker Mind/Body Study, researchers divided 135 people into five groups of walkers for 16 weeks. Group one walked briskly, group two at a slow pace, and group three at a slow pace while practicing “mindfulness,” a mental technique to bring about the relaxation response, a physiological response in which the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops. This group was asked to pay attention to their footsteps, counting one, two, one, two, and to visualize the numbers in their mind. Group four practiced a form of tai chi, and group five served as the control, changing nothing about their lives. The group practicing mindfulness showed significant declines in anxiety and had fewer negative and more positive feelings about themselves. Overall they experienced the same stress-reducing effects of the brisk walkers. Better yet, the effects were evident immediately.

18. Give priority to close relationships. One study of more than 1,300 men and women of various ages found that those who had a lot of supportive friends were much more likely to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar metabolism, and stress hormone levels than those with two or fewer close friends. Women, and to a lesser extent men, also seemed to benefit from good relationships with their parents and spouses. Studies also find that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are three to five times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have feelings of love, connection, and community.

19. Take care of the soul. In study after study, actively religious people are happier and cope better with crises, according to David Myers, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. For many people faith provides a support community, a sense of life’s meaning, feelings of ultimate acceptance, a reason to focus beyond yourself, and a timeless perspective on life’s woes. Even if you’re not religious, a strong spirituality may offer similar benefits.

20. Count your blessings. People who pause each day to reflect on some positive aspect of their lives (their health, friends, family, freedom, education, etc.) experience a heightened sense of well-being.

http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/20-simple-ways-to-get-happy/


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Happy Versus Unhappy People

Happy People vs. Unhappy People: 10 Differences - Happiness emfographics by Vadim Kotelnikov with Julia Vostrilova

“Happiness is mental harmony; unhappiness is mental inharmony.” ~ James Allen

“The world of those who are happy is different from the world of those who are not.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

The 10 differences between happy and unhappy people are to increase your awareness and understanding of what truly leads to happiness and what doesn’t.

This awareness will help you discard the things that lead to suffering, and accumulate the things that lead to your happiness.

 

http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/happy_vs_unhappy.html


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Rights in Europe (ECHR)

Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image – PlanetObserver (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

European Convention on Human Rights

 
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
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Parties to the convention
Signed 4 November 1950
Location Rome
Effective 3 September 1953
Parties 47 (all Council of Europe member states)
Depositary Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Languages English and French

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.

The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party can take a case to the Court. Judgements finding violations are binding on the States concerned and they are obliged to execute them. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe monitors the execution of judgements, particularly to ensure payment of the amounts awarded by the Court to the applicants in compensation for the damage they have sustained. The establishment of a Court to protect individuals from human rights violations is an innovative feature for an international convention on human rights, as it gives the individual an active role on the international arena (traditionally, only states are considered actors in international law). The European Convention is still the only international human rights agreement providing such a high degree of individual protection. State parties can also take cases against other state parties to the Court, although this power is rarely used.

The Convention has several protocols, which amend the convention framework.

History

Ilie Ilaşcu. 50 years of European Convention o...

Ilie Ilaşcu. 50 years of European Convention on Human Rights, Romanian stamp Русский: Илашку, Илие (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Romanian stamp,
commemorating 50 years of
European Convention on Human Rights

The development of a regional system of human rights protection operating across Europe can be seen as a direct response to twin concerns. First, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the convention, drawing on the inspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be seen as part of a wider response of the Allied Powers in delivering a human rights agenda through which it was believed that the most serious human rights violations which had occurred during the Second World War could be avoided in the future. Second, the Convention was a response to the growth of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and designed to protect the member states of the Council of Europe from communist subversion. This, in part, explains the constant references to values and principles that are “necessary in a democratic society” throughout the Convention, despite the fact that such principles are not in any way defined within the convention itself.

The Convention was drafted by the Council of Europe after Second World War in response to a call issued by Europeans from all walks of life who had gathered at the Hague Congress. Over 100 parliamentarians from the twelve member states of the Council of Europe gathered in Strasbourg in the summer of 1949 for the first ever meeting of the Council’s Consultative Assembly to draft a “charter of human rights” and to establish a court to enforce it. British MP and lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, the Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Legal and Administrative Questions, was one of its leading members and guided the drafting of the Convention. As a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, he had seen first-hand how international justice could be effectively applied. With his help, the French former minister and Resistance fighter Pierre-Henri Teitgen submitted a report[4] to the Assembly proposing a list of rights to be protected, selecting a number from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights just agreed to in New York, and defining how the enforcing judicial mechanism might operate. After extensive debates,[ the Assembly sent its final proposal[6] to the Council’s Committee of Ministers, which convened a group of experts to draft the Convention itself.

The Convention was designed to incorporate a traditional civil liberties approach to securing “effective political democracy”, from the strongest traditions in the United Kingdom, France and other member states of the fledgling Council of Europe. The Convention was opened for signature on 4 November 1950 in Rome. It was ratified and entered into force on 3 September 1953. It is overseen and enforced by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and the Council of Europe. Until procedural reforms in the late 1990s, the Convention was also overseen by a European Commission on Human Rights.

English: Map of the Council of Europe member a...

English: Map of the Council of Europe member and observer states ten founding members joined subsequently official candidates observer at the Parliamentary Assembly observer at the Committee of Ministers observer at the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drafting

The Convention is drafted in broad terms, in a similar (albeit more modern) manner to the English Bill of Rights, the American Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the first part of the German Basic law. Statements of principle are, from a legal point of view, not determinative and require extensive interpretation by courts to bring out meaning in particular factual situations.

Convention articles

As amended by Protocol 11, the Convention consists of three parts. The main rights and freedoms are contained in Section I, which consists of Articles 2 to 18. Section II (Articles 19 to 51) sets up the Court and its rules of operation. Section III contains various concluding provisions.

Before the entry into force of Protocol 11, Section II (Article 19) set up the Commission and the Court, Sections III (Articles 20 to 37) and IV (Articles 38 to 59) included the high-level machinery for the operation of, respectively, the Commission and the Court, and Section V contained various concluding provisions.

Many of the Articles in Section I are structured in two paragraphs: the first sets out a basic right or freedom (such as Article 2(1) – the right to life) but the second contains various exclusions, exceptions or limitations on the basic right (such as Article 2(2) – which excepts certain uses of force leading to death).

Article 1 – respecting rights

Article 1 simply binds the signatory parties to secure the rights under the other Articles of the Convention “within their jurisdiction”. In exceptional cases, “jurisdiction” may not be confined to a Contracting State’s own national territory; the obligation to secure Convention rights then also extends to foreign territory, such as occupied land in which the State exercises effective control.

In Loizidou v Turkey,[7] the European Court of Human Rights ruled that jurisdiction of member states to the convention extended to areas under that state’s effective control as a result of military action.

Article 2 – life

Article 2 protects the right of every person to his or her life. The right to life extends only to human beings, not to non-human animals,[8] or to “legal persons” such as corporations.[8] In Evans v United Kingdom, the Court ruled that the right to life does not extend to a human embryo. In Vo v France,[9] the Court declined to extend the right to life to an unborn child, while stating that “it is neither desirable, nor even possible as matters stand, to answer in the abstract the question whether the unborn child is a person for the purposes of Article 2 of the Convention”.

The Court has ruled that states have three main duties under Article 2:

  1. a duty to refrain from unlawful killing,
  2. a duty to investigate suspicious deaths and,
  3. in certain circumstances, a positive duty to prevent foreseeable loss of life.[11]

The first paragraph of the article contains an exception for lawful executions, although this exception has largely been superseded by Protocols 6 and 13. Protocol 6 prohibits the imposition of the death penalty in peacetime, while Protocol 13 extends the prohibition to all circumstances. (For more on Protocols 6 and 13, see below.)

The second paragraph of Article 2 provides that death resulting from defending oneself or others, arresting a suspect or fugitive, or suppressing riots or insurrections, will not contravene the Article when the use of force involved is “no more than absolutely necessary”.

Signatory states to the Convention can only derogate from the rights contained in Article 2 for deaths which result from lawful acts of war.

The European Court of Human Rights did not rule upon the right to life until 1995, when in McCann v. United Kingdom it ruled that the exception contained in the second paragraph do not constitute situations when it is permitted to kill, but situations where it is permitted to use force which might result in the deprivation of life.

Ban Ki-moon at the 60th anniversary of the Eur...

Ban Ki-moon at the 60th anniversary of the European Convention of Human Rights at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article 3 – torture

Article 3 prohibits torture, and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. There are no exceptions or limitations on this right. This provision usually applies, apart from torture, to cases of severe police violence and poor conditions in detention.

The Court have emphasised the fundamental nature of Article 3 in holding that the prohibition is made in “absolute terms … irrespective of a victim’s conduct.” The Court has also held that states cannot deport or extradite individuals who might be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in the recipient state.

Initially the Court took a restrictive view on what consisted of torture, preferring to find that states had inflicted inhuman and degrading treatment. Thus the court held that practices such as sleep deprivation, subjecting individual to intense noise and requiring them to stand against a wall with their limbs outstretched for extended periods of time, did not constitute torture. In fact the Court only found a state guilty of torture in 1996 in the case of a detainee who was suspended by his arms while his hands were tied behind his back. Since then the Court has appeared to be more open to finding states guilty of torture and has even ruled that since the Convention is a “living instrument”, treatment which it had previously characterised as inhuman or degrading treatment might in future be regarded as torture.

Article 4 – servitude

Article 4 prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour but exempts labour:

  • done as a normal part of imprisonment,
  • in the form of compulsory military service or work done as an alternative by conscientious objectors,
  • required to be done during a state of emergency, and
  • considered to be a part of a person’s normal “civic obligations.”

Article 5 – liberty and security

Article 5 provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. Liberty and security of the person are taken as a “compound” concept – security of the person has not been subject to separate interpretation by the Court.

Article 5 provides the right to liberty, subject only to lawful arrest or detention under certain other circumstances, such as arrest on reasonable suspicion of a crime or imprisonment in fulfilment of a sentence. The article also provides those arrested with the right to be informed, in a language they understand, of the reasons for the arrest and any charge they face, the right of prompt access to judicial proceedings to determine the legality of the arrest or detention, to trial within a reasonable time or release pending trial, and the right to compensation in the case of arrest or detention in violation of this article.

Article 6 – fair trial

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, access to legal representation, right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, right to the free assistance of an interpreter).

The majority of Convention violations that the Court finds today are excessive delays, in violation of the “reasonable time” requirement, in civil and criminal proceedings before national courts, mostly in Italy and France. Under the “independent tribunal” requirement, the Court has ruled that military judges in Turkish state security courts are incompatible with Article 6. In compliance with this Article, Turkey has now adopted a law abolishing these courts.

Another significant set of violations concerns the “confrontation clause” of Article 6 (i.e. the right to examine witnesses or have them examined). In this respect, problems of compliance with Article 6 may arise when national laws allow the use in evidence of the testimonies of absent, anonymous and vulnerable witnesses.

Article 7 – retroactivity

Article 7 prohibits the retroactive criminalisation of acts and omissions. No person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offence at the time of its commission. The article states that a criminal offence is one under either national or international law, which would permit a party to prosecute someone for a crime which was not illegal under domestic law at the time, so long as it was prohibited by international law. The Article also prohibits a heavier penalty being imposed than was applicable at the time when the criminal act was committed.

Article 7 incorporates the legal principle nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege into the convention.

Article 8 – privacy

Article 8 provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence“, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”. This article clearly provides a right to be free of unlawful searches, but the Court has given the protection for “private and family life” that this article provides a broad interpretation, taking for instance that prohibition of private consensual homosexual acts violates this article. This may be compared to the jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court, which has also adopted a somewhat broad interpretation of the right to privacy. Furthermore, Article 8 sometimes comprises positive obligations: whereas classical human rights are formulated as prohibiting a State from interfering with rights, and thus not to do something (e.g. not to separate a family under family life protection), the effective enjoyment of such rights may also include an obligation for the State to become active, and to do something (e.g. to enforce access for a divorced parent to his/her child).

Article 9 – conscience and religion

Article 9 provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief, and to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”

Article 10 – expression

Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas, but allows restrictions for:

  • interests of national security
  • territorial integrity or public safety
  • prevention of disorder or crime
  • protection of health or morals
  • protection of the reputation or the rights of others
  • preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
  • maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary…..

Article 11 – association

Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”.

Article 12 – marriage

Article 12 provides a right for women and men of marriageable age to marry and establish a family.

Despite a number of invitations, the Court has so far refused to apply the protections of this article to same-sex marriage. The Court has defended this on the grounds that the article was intended to apply only to different-sex marriage, and that a wide margin of appreciation must be granted to parties in this area.

In Goodwin v United Kingdom the Court ruled that a law which still classified post-operative transsexual persons under their pre-operative sex, violated article 12 as it meant that transsexual persons were unable to marry individuals of their post-operative opposite sex. This reversed an earlier ruling in Rees v United Kingdom. This did not, however, alter the Court’s understanding that Article 12 protects only different-sex couples.

Article 13 – effective remedy

Article 13 provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention. The inability to obtain a remedy before a national court for an infringement of a Convention right is thus a free-standing and separately actionable infringement of the Convention.

Article 14 – discrimination

Article 14 contains a prohibition of discrimination. This prohibition is broad in some ways, and narrow in others. It is broad in that it prohibits discrimination under a potentially unlimited number of grounds. While the article specifically prohibits discrimination based on “sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status”, the last of these allows the court to extend to Article 14 protection to other grounds not specifically mentioned such as has been done regarding discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

At the same time the article’s protection is limited in that it only prohibits discrimination with respect to rights under the Convention. Thus, an applicant must prove discrimination in the enjoyment of a specific right that is guaranteed elsewhere in the Convention (e.g. discrimination based on sex – Article 14 – in the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression – Article 10).

Protocol 12 extends this prohibition to cover discrimination in any legal right, even when that legal right is not protected under the Convention, so long as it is provided for in national law.

Article 15 – derogations

Article 15 allows contracting states to derogate from certain rights guaranteed by the Convention in time of “war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation”. Permissible derogations under article 15 must meet three substantive conditions:

  1. there must be a public emergency threatening the life of the nation;
  2. any measures taken in response must be “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation”, and
  3. the measures taken in response to it, must be in compliance with a state’s other obligations under international law

In addition to these substantive requirements the derogation must be procedurally sound. There must be some formal announcement of the derogation and notice of the derogation, any measures adopted under it, and the ending of the derogation must be communicated to the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe

The Court is quite permissive in accepting a state’s derogations from the Convention but applies a higher degree of scrutiny in deciding whether measures taken by states under a derogation are, in the words of Article 15, “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation”. Thus in A v United Kingdom, the Court dismissed a claim that a derogation lodged by the British government in response to the September 11 attacks was invalid, but went on to find that measures taken by the United Kingdom under that derogation were disproportionate.

In order for a derogation itself to be valid, the emergency giving rise to it must be:

  • actual or imminent, although states do not have to wait for disasters to strike before taking preventive measures,
  • involve the whole nation, although a threat confined to a particular region may be treated as “threatening the life of the nation” in that particular region,
  • threaten the continuance of the organised life of the community,
  • exceptional such that measures and restriction permitted by the Convention would be “plainly inadequate” to deal with the emergency.

Article 16 – aliens

Article 16 allows states to restrict the political activity of foreigners. The Court has ruled that European Union member states cannot consider the nationals of other member states to be aliens .

Article 17 – abuse of rights

Article 17 provides that no one may use the rights guaranteed by the Convention to seek the abolition or limitation of rights guaranteed in the Convention. This addresses instances where states seek to restrict a human right in the name of another human right, or where individuals rely on a human right to undermine other human rights (for example where an individual issues a death threat).

Article 18 – permitted restrictions

Article 18 provides that any limitations on the rights provided for in the Convention may be used only for the purpose for which they are provided. For example, Article 5, which guarantees the right to personal freedom, may be explicitly limited in order to bring a suspect before a judge. To use pre-trial detention as a means of intimidation of a person under a false pretext is therefore a limitation of right (to freedom) which does not serve an explicitly provided purpose (to be brought before a judge), and is therefore contrary to Article 18.

Convention protocols

As of January 2010, fifteen protocols to the Convention have been opened for signature. These can be divided into two main groups: those amending the framework of the convention system, and those expanding the rights that can be protected. The former require unanimous ratification by member states before coming into force, while the latter require a certain number of states to sign before coming into force.

Protocol 1

This Protocol contains three different rights in which the signatories could not agree to place in the Convention itself. Monaco and Switzerland have signed but never ratified Protocol 1.[27]

Article 1 – property

Article 1 provides for the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions.

Article 2 – education

Article 2 provides for the right not to be denied an education and the right for parents to have their children educated in accordance with their religious and other views. It does not however guarantee any particular level of education of any particular quality.[28]

Although phrased in the Protocol as a negative right, in Şahin v. Turkey the Court ruled that:

“it would be hard to imagine that institutions of higher education existing at a given time do not come within the scope of the first sentence of Article 2 of Protocol No 1. Although that Article does not impose a duty on the Contracting States to set up institutions of higher education, any State doing so will be under an obligation to afford an effective right of access to them. In a democratic society, the right to education, which is indispensable to the furtherance of human rights, plays such a fundamental role that a restrictive interpretation of the first sentence of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 would not be consistent with the aim or purpose of that provision.”

Article 3 – elections

Article 3 provides for the right to regular, free and fair elections.

Protocol 4 – civil imprisonment, free movement, expulsion

Article 1 prohibits the imprisonment of people for breach of a contract. Article 2 provides for a right to freely move within a country once lawfully there and for a right to leave any country. Article 3 prohibits the expulsion of nationals and provides for the right of an individual to enter a country of his or her nationality. Article 4 prohibits the collective expulsion of foreigners.

Turkey and the United Kingdom have signed but never ratified Protocol 4.Greece and Switzerland have neither signed nor ratified this protocol.

The United Kingdom’s failure to ratify this protocol is due to concerns over the interaction of Article 2 and Article 3 with British nationality law. Specifically, several classes of “British national” (such as British National (Overseas)) do not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom and are subject to immigration control there. In 2009, the UK government stated that it had no plans to ratify Protocol 4 because of concerns that those articles could be taken as conferring that right.

Protocol 6 – restriction of death penalty

Requires parties to restrict the application of the death penalty to times of war or “imminent threat of war”.

Every Council of Europe member state has signed and ratified Protocol 6, except Russia, which has signed but not ratified.[31]

Protocol 7 – crime and family

  • Article 1 provides for a right to fair procedures for lawfully resident foreigners facing expulsion.
  • Article 2 provides for the right to appeal in criminal matters.
  • Article 3 provides for compensation for the victims of miscarriages of justice.
  • Article 4 prohibits the re-trial of anyone who has already been finally acquitted or convicted of a particular offence (Double jeopardy).
  • Article 5 provides for equality between spouses.

Despite having signed the protocol more than twenty years ago, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey have never ratified it. Belgium, which signed the protocol in 2005, ratified it in 2012, becoming the latest member state to do so. The United Kingdom has neither signed nor ratified the protocol, and since the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has had limited exceptions to the “double jeopardy” rule for serious cases.

Protocol 12 – discrimination

Applies the current expansive and indefinite grounds of prohibited discrimination in Article 14 to the exercise of any legal right and to the actions (including the obligations) of public authorities.

The Protocol entered into force on 1 April 2005 and has (As of July 2009) been ratified by 17 member states. Several member states—Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—have not signed the protocol.[33]

The United Kingdom Government has declined to sign Protocol 12 on the basis that they believe the wording of protocol is too wide and would result in a flood of new cases testing the extent of the new provision. They believe that the phrase “rights set forth by law” might include international conventions to which the UK is not a party, and would result in incorporation of these instruments by stealth. It has been suggested that the protocol is therefore in a catch-22, since the UK will decline to either sign or ratify the protocol until the European Court of Human Rights has addressed the meaning of the provision, while the court is hindered in doing so by the lack of applications to the court concerning the protocol caused by the decisions of Europe’s most populous states—including the UK—not to ratify the protocol. The UK Government, nevertheless, “agrees in principle that the ECHR should contain a provision against discrimination that is free-standing and not parasitic on the other Convention rights”.[34] The first judgment that found a violation of Protocol No. 12, Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, was delivered in 2009.

Protocol 13 – complete abolition of death penalty

Provides for the total abolition of the death penalty. Currently the majority of the Council of Europe has ratified Protocol 13. Armenia have signed but not ratified the protocol, while Russia and Azerbaijan have not signed it.

Procedural and institutional protocols

The Convention’s provisions affecting institutional and procedural matters has been altered several times by mean of protocols. These amendments have, with of the exception of Protocol 2, amended the text of the convention. Protocol 2 did not amend the text of the convention as such, but stipulated that it was to be treated as an integral part of the text. All of these protocols have required the unanimous ratification of all the member states of the Council of Europe to enter into force.

Protocol 11

Protocols 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 and 10 have now been superseded by Protocol 11 which entered into force on 1 November 1998. It established a fundamental change in the machinery of the convention. It abolished the Commission, allowing individuals to apply directly to the Court, which was given compulsory jurisdiction and altered the latter’s structure. Previously states could ratify the Convention without accepting the jurisdiction of the Court of Human Rights. The protocol also abolished the judicial functions of the Committee of Ministers.

Protocol 14

Protocol 14 follows on from Protocol 11 in proposing to further improving the efficiency of the Court. It seeks to “filter” out cases that have less chance of succeeding along with those that are broadly similar to cases brought previously against the same member state. Furthermore a case will not be considered admissible where an applicant has not suffered a “significant disadvantage”. This latter ground can only be used when an examination of the application on the merits is not considered necessary and where the subject-matter of the application had already been considered by a national court.

A new mechanism was introduced by Protocol 14 to assist enforcement of judgements by the Committee of Ministers. The Committee can ask the Court for an interpretation of a judgement and can even bring a member state before the Court for non-compliance of a previous judgement against that state. Protocol 14 also allows for European Union accession to the Convention. The protocol has been ratified by every Council of Europe member state, Russia being last in February 2010. It entered into force on 1 June 2010.

A provisional Protocol 14bis had been opened for signature in 2009. Pending the ratification of Protocol 14 itself, 14bis was devised to allow the Court to implement revised procedures in respect of the states which have ratified it. It allowed single judges to reject manifestly inadmissible applications made against the states that have ratified the protocol. It also extended the competence of three-judge chambers to declare applications made against those states admissible and to decide on their merits where there already is a well-established case law of the Court. Now that all Council of Europe member states have ratified Protocol 14, Protocol 14bis has lost its raison d’être and according to its own terms ceased to have any effect when Protocol 14 entered into force on 1 June 2010.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Convention_on_Human_Rights


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Rights

Rights

Theoretical distinctions

Human rights

Rights by claimant
Other groups of rights

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_liberties

English: Human Rights logo: "FREE AS A MA...

English: Human Rights logo: “FREE AS A MAN” esp ->svg Français : Logo pour les droits de l’homme : « Free as a man ». Русский: Свободен как человек, победитель в международном конкурсе логотипа, символзириюущего Прав человека, http://humanrightslogo.net/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Fundamental Rights in India

India

The Fundamental Rights — embodied in Part III of the constitution — guarantee liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace as citizens of India. The six fundamental rights are right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights and right to constitutional remedies.

Huge rallies like this one in Kolkata are commonplace in India.

These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, incorporated in the fundamental law of the land and are enforceable in a court of law. Violations of these rights result in punishments as prescribed in the Indian Penal Code, subject to discretion of the judiciary. These rights are neither absolute nor immune from constitutional amendments. They have been aimed at overturning the inequalities of pre-independence social practises. Specifically, they resulted in abolishment of untouchability and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. They forbid human trafficking and unfree labour. They protect cultural and educational rights of ethnic and religious minorities by allowing them to preserve their languages and administer their own educational institutions.

All people, irrespective of race, religion, caste or sex, have the right to approach the High Courts or the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. It is not necessary that the aggrieved party has to be the one to do so. In public interest, anyone can initiate litigation in the court on their behalf. This is known as “Public interest litigation“. High Court and Supreme Court judges can also act on their own on the basis of media reports.

Fundamental Rights primarily protect individuals from any arbitrary State actions, but some rights are enforceable against private individuals too. For instance, the constitution abolishes untouchability and prohibits begar. These provisions act as a check both on State action and actions of private individuals. Fundamental Rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions as necessary for the protection of national interest. In the Kesavananda Bharati vs. state of Kerala case, the Supreme Court ruled that all provisions of the constitution, including Fundamental Rights can be amended. However, the Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution like secularism, democracy, federalism, separation of powers. Often called the “Basic structure doctrine”, this decision is widely regarded as an important part of Indian history.

In the 1978 Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court extended the doctrine’s importance as superior to any parliamentary legislation.According to the verdict, no act of parliament can be considered a law if it violated the basic structure of the constitution. This landmark guarantee of Fundamental Rights was regarded as a unique example of judicial independence in preserving the sanctity of Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights can only be altered by a constitutional amendment, hence their inclusion is a check not only on the executive branch, but also on the Parliament and state legislatures]

The imposition of a state of emergency may lead to a temporary suspension of the rights conferred by Article 19 (including freedoms of speech, assembly and movement, etc.) to preserve national security and public order. The President can, by order, suspend the right to constitutional remedies as well.


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History of Civil Liberties

The formal concept of civil liberties dates back to the English legal charter the Magna Carta 1215, which in turn was based on pre-existing documents namely the English Charter of Liberties, a landmark document in English legal history.

Civil liberties 2006

Civil liberties 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many contemporary states have a constitution, a bill of rights, or similar constitutional documents that enumerate and seek to guarantee civil liberties. Other states have enacted similar laws through a variety of legal means, including signing and ratifying or otherwise giving effect to key conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The existence of some claimed civil liberties is a matter of dispute, as are the extent of most civil rights.

Controversial examples include property rights, reproductive rights, civil marriage, and the right to keep and bear arms. Whether the existence of victimless crimes infringes upon civil liberties is a matter of dispute. Another matter of debate is the suspension or alteration of certain civil liberties in times of war or state of emergency, including whether and to what extent this should occur.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_liberties


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Civil Liberties

Freedom House world map 2005

Freedom House world map 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Civil liberties are civil rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights. Though the scope of the term differs amongst various countries, some examples of civil liberties include the freedom from slavery and forced labor, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, freedom of conscience, religion, expression, press, assembly and association, speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment and due process and the right to a fair trial, as well as the right to life. Other civil liberties may also include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, there are distinctions between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_liberties

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