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Article 2 European Convention on Human Rights - Right to life

 
 
Article 2 provides:
 
"(1) Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.*
 
 
(2) Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
 
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence; 
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; 
(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.
 
*Protocol 13 ECHR now provides for the abolition of the death penalty
 
 
Art 2 provides two primary obligations on the state:
 
1. To protect the right to life
2. Prohibition on the deprivation of life
 
 
Life means human life - it does not cover animals or legal persons (corporations). The European court left it to individual Member States to set the law as to when a human life comes into being:
 
 
Vo v France [2004] ECHR 326                                              case summary


A foetus is not protected by Article 2:

Paton v UK (1981) 3 EHRR 408                                            Case summary


English law on when a foetus becomes a human being:


Rance v Mid Downes Health Authority (1991) 1 All ER 801            Case summary


Art 2 protects the right to life - it does not confer a right to die or to determine when and how life should end:
 


Pretty v UK  (2346/02)                                                             Case summary
 
 
Art 2 does not impose an obligation on the state to sustain life through life support
 
 
 
 
Lambert v France [2015] ECHR 545                                                 Case summary
 
 
English law on this issue is therefore compatible with Art 2:




Airedale Hospital Trustees v Bland [1993] 2 WLR 316                  Case summary


R v Malcherek and Steel [1981] 2 All ER                                     Case summary
 
 
 
Art 2 imposes an obligation on the state to take steps to protect life where they are aware of an environmental risk:
 
 
 
Oneryildiz v Turkey [2004] ECHR 657                                        Case summary

Art 2 imposes a duty on the state to protect individuals from violence by others:

Osman v UK (23452/94) [1998] ECHR 101                             Case summary

There is a duty to prevent suicide in custody:
 


Keenan v UK 27229/95 [2001] ECHR 242                              Case summary


There is a duty to prevent suicide of those in residential care:


Savage v South Essex NHS Trust  [2009] 2 WLR 115            Case summary


Protection from medical malpractice - duty to provide effective judicial system to investigate cause of death


Erikson v Italy [1999] ECHR 201                                     Case summary


Duty to make adequate investigation into loss of life:


Jordan v UK [2001] ECHR 327                                          Case summary






Justifications for interference with right to life

 

Article 2 (2) Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
 
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence; 
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; 
(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.


Absolutely necessary


Force used must be both necessary and proportionate. This includes:

An honest and reasonable belief that the force is necessary:

McCann v UK 18984/91 1995             Case summary


Police operations must be authorised and regulated by national law:

Makaratzis v Greece [2004] ECHR 694             Case summary


Inadequate planning or failure to investigate death may lead to a finding of disproportionate force:


Finogenov v Russia [2010] ECHR 589            Case summary
 
 
 

Art 2 (2) (a) - justification based on defence of any person from unlawful violence 



Armani Da Silva v UK [2012] ECHR 1377



Art 2 (2) (b) justification based on effecting a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained


Nachova v Bulgaria [2005] ECHR 465



Art 2 (2) (c) justification based on lawful action to quell a riot or insurrection




Stewart v UK [1985] 7 EHRR 453     Case summary


Gulec v Turkey [1998] ECHR 58        Case summary
 

 

 
 


 
 

 

Article 2 European Convention on Human Rights - Right to life