From the Greek Case to the Present: 50 Years of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Graffin, Neil In: Claydon, Lisa; Derry, Caroline and Ajevski, Marjan eds. Law in Motion: 50 yars of Legal Change. The Open University Law School, pp. 52–66.



This chapter will look at the development of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concerns the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, from the first finding that it had been breached in 1969 in the Greek case, to the current time. It will focus on how the Article came to be treated as prohibiting different categories of harm in the Greek case and Ireland v UK, of torture, inhuman treatment or punishment, or degrading treatment or punishment. It will assess when the European Court has been willing to find a breach of the provision, with respect of these categorisations over a 50-year period. The chapter will argue that the Court has been willing to find the provision breached in a wide range of cases, beyond much more than what one imagines its drafters had envisaged. At the same time, the Court has sought to set parameters for the reach of the Article. This chapter will finish by considering some of the potentialities for Article 3 by considering the plight of migrants trying to make their way to Europe, while recognising its failures to protect these people.

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