European Court of Human Rights

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The European Court of Human Rights is a court established as part of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed November 4, 1950 in Rome by the Contracting States of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe has grown from the original 10 signatories to 41, including countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Any citizen who felt that a nation refused to rectify a violation of their rights as defined by the European Convention could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Prior to November 1998, complaints were first heard by the European Commission of Human Rights, which would determine admissibility and encourage a "friendly settlement" between the individual and the nation.

Applications declared admissible that could not be resolved via a friendly settlement, the European Commission generated a report outlining the facts and expressing its opinion regarding the case's merits. Cases were then transmitted to the Court for further consideration and a decision.

Since November 1998, new cases are submitted directly to the European Court.