ENTRY INTO FORCE of the European Convention on Human Rights
3 September 1953
Number of implemented cases*
Justice for widower whose rights were breached in assisted dying case
The German courts refused to fully consider Ulrich Koch’s complaints against a decision to refuse his late wife’s request for help to end her life with dignity. The European court found that Ulrich’s rights had been breached. Ulrich then took successful legal action in Germany thanks to the European court’s ruling in his case.
Justice for businessman subjected to a police raid just because of someone else’s traffic violation
Jürgen Buck ran a small business in a town near Frankfurt. One afternoon police suddenly raided his house and office. Jürgen alleged that suspicions were raised locally that he was involved in crime, leading to a loss of business. Yet the raid had merely been an unnecessary step in proceedings against Jürgen’s son for speeding. The European court ruled that the raid had been disproportionate.
Nurse compensated after being fired for whistleblowing
Brigitte Heinisch was a geriatric nurse. She claimed that practices in the old people’s home where she worked were putting patients at risk. After she made her allegations public, she was fired. Yet, the German courts found that her dismissal was lawful - so Mrs Heinisch took her case to Strasbourg. Her case was then re-opened and she won compensation.
Reforms to address unreasonable legal delays
Dozens of applicants complained of excessive delays to legal proceedings in Germany. One was Rüdiger Rumpf, who waited for over 13 years to have an administrative issue decided upon. The European court identified a structural problem concerning a lack of remedies for excessively long proceedings in Germany. This led to significant reforms to tackle the problem.
Improved custody rights for fathers of children born out of marriage
Horst Zaunegger had a daughter and separated from the child’s mother. German law limited his chances to obtain joint custody, because he and the mother had never been married. After he won his case in Strasbourg, the law was changed to give fathers such as Mr Zaunegger more rights.
* 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.