The European Conventions on Human Rights

The following essay is concerned with the European convention on human rights with special emphasis on Article 8 which is concerned with the privacy of individuals and family life. The essay tries to answer the question on the implications of Article 8 of the European Convention Human Rights for decisions concerning admission to, and expulsion from states party contracting states.

The government of most countries in Europe usually plays an important role as far as the protection of human rights is concerned. The European Convention on human rights usually operates together with Human Rights Acts, United Nations and other organs that are concerned with the protection of the essential human rights of the citizens. Initially, the European convention on human rights used to be referred to as the convention for the protection of Human rights and refers to a global treaty that protects the rights of people across European nations. The history of the European conventions on human rights can be traced back in the year 1950 but the convention did not come into force until the year 1953.The members of the European convention on human rights includes the European nations. One of the most common features of the European convention on human rights is the European court of Human Rights which handles cases where the human rights have been infringed10.

The European nations have signed a Universal Declaration on Human Rights with the aim of ensuring that human rights and freedoms are safeguarded. Human rights and freedoms are the basis of justice in the universe and can only be achieved in a democratic political environment. In an effort to promote peace and to ensure that the fundamental human rights are not violated, the United Nations conventions on human rights came up within 66 sections which provide guidance with regards t human rights.

Article 8 of the European Convention of human rights basically contains the provision which helps to respect the individuals as well as family privacy. The article holds the view that everyone is entitled to privacy which should be respected9. The Article also provides that the authority in place should not bother the individuals while they are exercising their privacy rights except in a case where the law restricts so as to cater for the general public interests.

The case of Slivenko v Latvia

The facts concerning this case are; the case was first filed in court by Nikolay Slivenko but it was ruled out and later on the second applicants by the name Mrs.Tatjana Slivenko and Ms.Katrina Slivenko who were from the Russian origin filed the same. Both Tatiana and Nikolay Slivenko were couples and the main the main source of was when a deportation order was issued by the immigration authorities in which case the applicants were denied permanent residence and it required that the applicants move back to their country of origin. This however brought about several issues with regards to the violation of human rights. The governments of Russia and Latvia signed a treaty that required the Russian troops to withdraw and the treaty became operational the on the very same day. The treaty concerning withdrawal of Russian troops had an effect as far as the Nikolay Slivenko situation was concerned. The truth of the matter was that Nikolay was not influenced by anyone to move form Latvia and rather he left voluntarily and he was a frequent visitor to Latvia. Thus his removal was a violation of human right which is against the provision of the Article 8 of the European conventions on human rights. Their privacy as well as family life of the plaintiffs was indeed affected11. The government acted against Article 8 by failing to consider special individual circumstances such as that of Tatiana and Katrina. The two were actually integrated into the country and had nothing to do with posing a threat to the national security as they were part and parcel of the entire Slivenko family. Tatiana’s father retired from the army in 1986 and opted to continue living in Latvia. He was however not regarded as a potential threat to the national security but instead his grandchildren were being considered to cause danger. This amounted to an act of discrimination and so, the fact that Katrina and Tatiana were being as non USSR citizens made them to feel uncomfortable. The courts however held the view that the withdrawal of Russian troops together with their families was indeed ideal as far as the public interest was concerned in this case, the security. The court also held the view that the decision had nothing to do with the 8th Article. The court ruling in this matter was not fair at all. The Human Rights convention usually stresses the fact that citizens should continue to exercise their individual rights as well as freedom without being discriminated whatsoever14. The United Nations has for instance has been on the forefront in enhancing the fundamental rights of the refugees without discrimination and so the nations need to follow suit and follow the Article 8. Article 14 of the European Convention on human rights is also very clear when it comes to discrimination and it provides that no person shall be discriminated irrespective of his or her country of origin. Discrimination which is one of the aspects of human rights was thus violated in accordance with Article 8 as well as article 12 of the European Convention Human Rights in this case. The two articles holds the view that if a person has two or more nationalities, the person is bound to be protected by the country in which he is current residing and this implies that he or she should be treated fairly and given equal opportunities to compete with the other citizens without being discriminated whatsoever. The deportation of Slivenko family usually contributed to the violation of human rights because for the children were separated from their father and they missed their right to be taken care of by both parents. They could not even visit their dad at Latvia even if he was unwell because they were denied access to the country. It was later on in the year 2001 that they were allowed to live in Latvia but only for a period of 90 days annually6. The law relating to Latvian citizenship holds that citizenship will only be granted in case the persons were citizens as early as 1940.This with regards to the applicants because by then they were not born and so they were being deported for reasons not clear unto them.

In the above case however, the court held determined as to whether the applicants were indeed allowed to live in the nation of Latvia so as to know as to whether or not the concept of private and family life holds. The applicants had lived in Latvia for many years and they had indeed integrated with other members in the society. The applicants even owned property in Latvia implying that they contributed to the Latvia economy in one way or another and therefore the human rights infringement actually occurred. However, the court proceeded to argue that the reason behind deportation was not to separate the family life of the applicants. The convention however did not have the provision that allowed the applicants to decide which country was ideal so as to continue enjoying the family life that they used to enjoy before5. This was a total neglect and showed that the government had no respect for the people’s rights. The government failed to consider the fact that the applicants may settle in Russia and indeed fail to cope with the kind of life there as a result of several factors among them language barriers e.t.c.

The court also held the view that the decision to deport the applicants did not amount to the well-being of the society due to the fact that the interpretation by the state concerning public welfare was not practical and individual wishes were disregarded and so the state violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights unreasonably. Also, the two arrests that were done separately were not done according to the law and thus they provided an opportunity whereby the detention can be appealed. To make the matters worse, the applicants didn’t know the reasons as to why they were being arrested and detained. The applicants were also deemed to be living in Latvia unlawfully which again is hurting considering the fact that they were their children were born there and had no idea as to whether they were illegal immigrants with their grandfather being a bona fide citizen.

The family of Slivenko needs to seek remedy as a result of the damages they faced following the violation of their rights. The European convention on human rights, the united nation s and other human rights organizations usually recognizes the need for the remedies for the people whose rights have been infringed13. The remedies that have been considered as a result of violation of individual human rights include social remedy as well as political remedies. The human conventions of human rights advocates that citizens should be educated on their rights and institutions should be put into place where the citizens can report such cases. The information that is provided by victims of human rights violations needs to be confidential and should not be disclosed to anyone without their consent. The press should play its rightful role of ensuring that the victims of violations of human rights are accorded sufficient publicity. This will help to influence the nature of the investigations as it will ensure fair trial as well as exposing the masterminds of the human rights infringement8. The European conventions on human rights have been working closely with the media in an effort to educate the importance of safeguarding the essential human rights particularly Article 8 as well as preaching the effects of the vice.

The social remedies with regards to the infringement of human rights such as privacy thus includes government protection form unfair deportation as well as the reform of the authority in place so as to enhance justice in the society and ensure that human rights are safeguarded.This will in turn ensure that people coexists in a peaceful and harmonious manner in the society.

On the other hand, the legal remedies with regards to the infringement of human rights include the following; the judicial system should be strengthened so as to adequately deal with the violation of private rights. Most countries in the Europe boast the presence of a strong judicial mechanism that is capable of handling the issue of human rights infringements12. Such bills as the bill of rights Act together with the European convention s of human rights and the United Nations ensures that strong machinery which prevents the violation of such rights is put into place. The judicial mechanism of many European nations is vested with the powers of executing the violators of human rights. An effective judicial mechanism in place helps to prevent many violations such as forceful eviction, unlawful arrests among others. The technological advancements in many European nations have also facilitated the immediate responses with regards to human rights infringements.

There is a need to improve the regional mechanisms so as to help promote and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. The mechanisms require to be improved so as to have both formal and informal aspects. Informal mechanisms entail the response of the people with regards to infringements of people’s rights. The informal environment is an important aspect of breaking the silence in the society.The formal mechanisms entails the institutions that exists such as the European conventions on human rights and other bodies such as the United Nations.

The international mechanisms also need to be developed if the issue of human rights infringements is to be adequately dealt with3. For instance, the United Nations through its branch of the United Nations High Commission for refugees commonly referred to as UNHCR is an international agency which helps to protect the immigrants in the entire world.

The European convention on Human Rights holds the view that its ruling is final and that both the plaintiff and the accused are required to abide with the decision of the courts. The European Convention of Human Rights as an organization is in charge of all the issues concerning the convention i.e. its applicability as well as interpretation. Thee exceptions of Article 8 of the conventions includes in accordance with the law requirements, when it is being regarded as lawful and also when it is considered as a necessity. The violation of Article 8 with regards to the requirements by law entails that the matters in hand should be readily open to the parties that are involved and should also not have any future effects i.e. it should not pose any harm in the future. In this case, the violations occurred in the fact that the case also affected the future generations. The grandfather in this case was separated from the rest of the family members by the virtue of his nationality7. The interpretation of the treaty by the Latvian court was not correct and therefore the applicants could have continued to stay and deportation could not have taken place. The main argument by the court was that the parties could not agree on matters of facts such as the retirement date and this rendered their applications to be considered less authentic hence the deportation. The court further argues that it has the sole responsibility of interpreting and applying the domestic law regardless of the international treaties such as the European Conventions on Human Rights and therefore it can overrule the contents of Article 8 in its execution its mandates. Thus considering the Slivenko case, the courts argued that the decision to deport the applicants was as a result of the treaty that was signed between Russia and Latvian demanding the Russian troop’s withdrawal. The court justified that the applicant’s deportation was as due to the requirements of the law.

The other instance in which case the court can justify the deportation is legitimate aim. With this regard, the government justifies itself based on the fact that it was acting in the best interest of its citizens by protecting them from aggression as well as crime. In the above case, the government thus emphasized that it considered issuing deportation orders so as to get rid of the effects that are associated with illegal occupation.

The other instance which the government can justify itself following the violation of Article 8 is the necessity i.e. responding to a social need that is urgent4. The courts consideration in matter is to determine as to whether the actions taken indeed helped to promote the well-being of the individual person as well as the society at large. In this case however, a deportation order was issued once the Latvia became independent because the state of independence implied that the Russian troops were no longer regarded and so they had to vacate the country together with their families. The applicants were thus deported and indeed not allowed to be registered as the ex-USSR citizens. The exit of the Russian troops resulted to the infringement of human rights as it affected the private lives as well as homes of the people who were concerned. The government thus can justify its actions in this situation by arguing that the mere presence of foreign military men in a country that is independent will be a threat to its sovereignty and hence expose the country to a security danger. There was indeed an infringement of Article 8 following this decision2.

Human rights deserve to be protected and recognized and this has been the main objective of the European Convention on Human Rights. Every person is entitled to freedoms as well as the freedoms and therefore there is the need to develop good international relations among nations so as to ensure that citizens do not end up being victims of human rights infringements3. Everybody aspires to live a life whereby their privacy and family life will be given a top priority. The governments need to play their role of ensuring that their citizens don’t worry much with respect to infringements of their human rights.

Human rights were abused in the above case and instead the government interfered with the rights of innocent people by requiring them to vacate the country. There is need for the political class to be just and compassionate during their execution of their tasks so as to promote the well-being of the citizens1.

There is need for the state to consider protecting the private life of a person. The private life should not be impeded with without the authorization of those whose rights will be aggrieved as a result15. The government of Latvia was not concerned when it ordered the vacation of the Russian troops together with their families and this shows that it has no respect for the rights of human beings by violating Article 8 of the ECHR. It is therefore important for the government to consider the margin of closeness or a nuclear family before making such decisions as deportation. This is because the main sufferers in such a situation are the children. The deportation usually comes along with other expenses and changes which the children may find challenging to adopt.

Reference List

A W khan v United Kingdom (2009) ECHR 27(2010)

Balogh v Hungary App no 47940/99(ECHR, 2004)

Boultif v. Switzerland 33 EHRR 1179 (2001) S

Copland vs. United Kingdom App. No. 62617/00(2007)

Hasanbasic v. Switzerland (2166/09) R (Razgar) V SSHD [2004] UKHL 27

S and Marper v United Kingdom. Applications nos. 30562/04 and 30566/04 (2008)

SAADI v. UK. App. No. 13229/03 (Eur Court HR 2006)

Silver v. United Kingdom (1981) 3 EHRR 475

Simpson v UK (1989) 64 Dr 188

Soering v United Kingdom 11 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1989)

Steel & Morris v the united kingdom App. no. 68416/01(2005)

Van Kuck v. Germany App. no. 35968/97(2003)

Vereinigung Bildender Künstler v. Austria. Application no. 68354/01 (2007)

Von Hannover v. Germany App. no. 40660/08 (2004)

Footnotes

  1. 110 Simpson v UK (1989) 64 Dr 188
  2. 99 Silver v. United Kingdom (1981) 3 EHRR 475
  3. 111 Soering v United Kingdom 11 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1989)
  4. 114 Vereinigung Bildender Künstler v. Austria (2007)
  5. 66 R (Razgar) V SSHD [2004] UKHL 27
  6. 55 Hasanbasic v. Switzerland (2166/09)
  7. 113 Van Kuck v. Germany App. no. 35968/97(2003
  8. 88 SAADI v. UK. App. No. 13229/03 (Eur Court HR 2006)
  9. 112 Steel & Morris v the united kingdom App. no. 68416/01(2005)
  10. 33 Boultif v. Switzerland 33 EHRR 1179 (2001) S
  11. 77 S and Marper v United Kingdom (2008) (Applications nos. 30562/04 and 30566/04)
  12. 44 Copland vs. United Kingdom App. No. 62617/00(2007)
  13. 22 Balogh v Hungary App no 47940/99(ECHR, 2004)
  14. 33 Boultif v. Switzerland 33 EHRR 1179 (2001) S
  15. 11 A W khan v United Kingdom (2009) ECHR 27(2010)
  16. 115 Von Hannover v. Germany App. no. 40660/08 (2004)

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