ENTRY INTO FORCE of the European Convention on Human Rights

23 January 1967

Number of implemented cases*



Media law changed after columnist fined for criticising politician

A Maltese court fined Michael Falzon after a prominent politician accused him of defamation because of an article he wrote. The European court ruled that Michael’s criticism of the politician was legitimate and in the public interest. This breach of his right to free speech led Malta to change its laws on libel and slander.

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A mother’s struggle to be with her children leads to better protection for family life

M.D. lost custody of her two children after the authorities found that her former partner had been beating them and she had not protected them. M.D. then ended her relationship with the abusive partner and tried to get her children back. However, under Maltese law she had lost custody of the children forever, and she had no way to challenge this in the national courts.

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Case highlights the need to protect the impartiality of judges

Mrs M. had her legal dispute presided over by a judge who was closely related to two of the lawyers representing the other side. The European court ruled that Mrs M.’s fears of impartiality had been justified and her right to a fair trial had been breached.

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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.