ENTRY INTO FORCE of the European Convention on Human Rights

14 June 1955

Number of implemented cases*



Legal code changed after a woman was excluded from a courtroom for wearing a hijab

Hagar Lachiri was excluded from a Belgian court hearing because she refused to take off the headscarf she chooses to wear as a practising Muslim. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that this violated Hagar’s religious freedom. Belgium responded to the judgment by changing the law on which the violation was based.

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Better protection for victims of sexual violence after police fail to properly investigate rape allegation

B.V. tried for years to get the authorities to investigate her allegations of rape and sexual assault. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Belgian authorities had not investigated B.V.’s allegations in a serious or thorough way. Belgium has since taken many steps to better protect victims of sexual violence.

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Better access to justice after environmental group’s legal challenge was unfairly rejected

The Conseil d’État rejected an environmental group’s challenge to a decision allowing a landfill site to be expanded because they did not include a statement of facts in their application. The European court ruled that this breached the group’s right to a fair trial. The judgment prompted the Conseil d’État to take a less formal approach when considering complaints.

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Reforms made following the inhuman treatment of a four-year-old girl

When she was four years old, Tabitha Mitunga was detained by the Belgian authorities for almost two months – without family, friends, or anybody assigned to look after her. She suffered psychological damage and the Strasbourg court ruled that her rights had been violated. Her case highlighted the need for better protections for unaccompanied children in Belgium and led to substantial reforms.

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Woman wins landmark case for the rights of single mothers and their children

Paula Marckx was unmarried when she had a baby girl. Paula was shocked to discover that, because she was single, her child would not be recognised as being hers unless she went through a legal process. Even after this, her daughter would have a reduced legal status and would not inherit from her. The European court ruled this violated their right to family life – leading to a change to Belgian...

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Excessive police operation against journalists leads to reforms to protect media sources

Four Belgian journalists were targeted by the police in a huge search and seizure operation aimed at identifying the source of leaked government information. The Strasbourg court ruled that the operation had been unjustified and disproportionate. The case influenced new legislation to improve protections for journalists and their sources.

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* This figure includes all judgments and decisions from the European Court of Human Rights (including friendly settlements) concerning which the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has decided that all necessary follow-up measures have been taken. Source: the database of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the ECHR, HUDOC-EXEC.