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Article 4 European Convention on Human Rights - Prohibition of slavery

 
Article 4 Prohibition of slavery
 
"(1) No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. 
 (2) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour. 
 (3) For the purpose of this Article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include: 
 
(a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention; 
(b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service; 
(c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community; 
(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations."
 
 
 
 
The prohibition under Art 4 is absolute; according to Art 15, Art 4 is non-derogable also there are no lawful justifications that can be invoked by the state to justify a breach.


CN v UK [2010] ECHR 380       Case summary



Art 4 includes human trafficking:


Rantsev v Cyprus & Russia [2010] ECHR 22       Case summary


SM v Croatia [2018] ECHR 633



Art 4 (1) Slavery and servitude



Slavery

The court adopts the definition of slavery from the 1926 Slavery Convention

 “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised” 
 
 
Siliadin v France [2005] ECHR 545   Case summary
 
 
Money received in return for marriage was not a transfer of ownership to give rise to slavery in M and others v Italy and Bulgaria
 
 
 
M and others v Italy and Bulgaria [2012] ECHR 1967      Case summary
 
 
 
 
Servitude
 
“servitude” means an obligation to provide one’s services that is imposed by the use of coercion, and is to be linked with the concept of slavery:
 
 
Seguin v France [2002] ECHR 420           Case summary
 
 
 
Servitude is an aggravated form of forced labour with the victim's perception that it is a permanent state of affairs:
 
 
 
CN and V v France [2012] ECHR               Case summary
 
 
 
Domestic servitude is a specific offence, distinct from trafficking and exploitation, involving coercion to force compliance:
 
 
 
CN v UK [2010] ECHR 380                     Case summary
 
 
 
 
Art 4 (2) forced or compulsory labour
 
 
 
Van der Mussele v Belgium [1983] ECHR 13       Case summary
 
“forced or compulsory labour” means “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”
 
 
No breach of Art 4 (2) where an employee was not paid for work completed, despite being entitled to payment as they acted voluntary:
 
 
Sokur v Ukraine [2005] ECHR 263     Case summary
 
 
 
No breach of Art 4 where receipt of social benefit payments required recipients to accept any form of labour, irrespective if it was suitable or not:
 
 
Schuitemaker v Netherlands [2010] ECHR 820         Case summary
 
 
 
Art 4 (3) (a) forced labour does not include work done in the course of detention:
 
 
 
Stummer v Austria [2011] ECHR 1096            Case summary
 
 
 
Van Droogenbroeck v Belgium [1982] ECHR 3           Case summary
 
 
 
Floroiu v Romania [2013] ECHR              Case summary
 
 
 
Meier v Switzerland [2016] ECHR 162            Case summary
 
 
 
Art 4 (3) (b) Military service
 
 
W, X, Y, Z v UK [1968] ECHR 4      Case summary
 
 
 
Chitos v Greece [2015] ECHR 529          Case summary
 
 
 
Art 4 (3) (c) Emergency or calamity threatening life


S v Germany [1982] ECHR           Case summary
 
 
 
I v Norway [1963] ECHR            Case summary
 
 
 
Art 4 (3) (d) normal civic obligations
 
 
Remunerated work can form the basis of forced labour, lack of remuneration may be a relevant factor in considering proportionality:
 
 
 
Van der Mussele v Belgium [1983] ECHR 13       Case summary
 
 

Steindel v Germany [2010] ECHR 1471        Case summary
 
 
 
Compulsory jury service is exempt from forced labour under Art 4(3)(d)
 
 
 
Zarb Adami v Malta [2006] ECHR 1209         Case summary
 
 
 
Compulsory fire service is also considered normal civic obligation:
 
 
Karlheinz Schmidt v Germany [1994] ECHR 22       Case summary
 
 
 
An obligation to conduct free medical examinations is exempt under Art 4 (3) (d)
 
 
 
Reitmayr v Austria [1982] ECHR 17      Case summary
 
 
 
Positive obligations
 
Art 4 imposes positive obligations on the state to:
 
  1. put in place a legislative and administrative framework
  2. take operational measures
  3. investigate
 
Duty to put in place a legislative and administrative framework
 
 
There is a duty on the member state to put in place a legislative and administrative framework to prohibit and punish persons engaged in exploiting individuals through slavery, servitude or forced labour:
 
 
 
Rantsev v Cyprus & Russia [2010] ECHR 22       Case summary



This includes an obligation to prevent and punish trafficking




VCL and AN v UK [2021] ECHR 132       Case summary



Duty to take operational measures


Art 4 requires states to put in place operational measures to protect victims where they were aware, or ought to have been aware, of circumstances giving rise to a credible suspicion that an identified individual had been, or was at real and immediate risk of being subjected to treatment in breach of Article 4:
 
 
 
VCL and AN v UK  [2021] ECHR 132       Case summary
 
 
 
Operational measures should not be disproportionate or impose an impossible burden on the state:
 
 
 
Rantsev v Cyprus & Russia  [2010] ECHR 22       Case summary



Procedural obligation to investigate



Art 4 imposes an obligation  to investigate where there is a credible suspicion of trafficking:
 
 
 
Rantsev v Cyprus & Russia  [2010] ECHR 22       Case summary



Art 4 imposes an obligation  to investigate where there is a credible suspicion of domestic servitude:



CN v UK [2010] ECHR 380                     Case summary



Art 4 imposes an obligation  to investigate where there is a credible suspicion of forced prostitution:



SM v Croatia [2018] ECHR 633               Case summary
 
 
 
 
 

Article 4 European Convention on Human Rights - Prohibition of slavery