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The European Court of Human Rights and the protection of civil liberties: an overview

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It is doubtful whether there is a more famous court in Europe than the European Court of Human Rights. The town in which it is located, Strasbourg, has become a rallying cry for disappointed litigants from Iceland to Istanbul. Through its application of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Court is seen to have played an important role in the protection of individual freedom in western Europe, and its case-law has ballooned dramatically in recent years. So successful has it been that the Court's jurisdiction is coveted by the newly emerging democracies in eastern and central Europe as a badge of legitimacy and a bulwark against future tyranny. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria already have judges on the Court and representatives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are expected in the not too distant future. There is even talk of Russian membership. Moves are afoot to rationalise the Court's procedures, and to incorporate its law within the European Community.1 Some- time in the next few years it will have a fine new building, designed by Sir Richard Rogers. All the signs are that its jurisprudence will continue to grow at a hectic pace. It is not improbable that the Court will emerge over time as a supreme court of Europe, at least so far as human rights are concerned.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/4700/

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