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The European Court of Human Rights – a role model for the human rights systems in America and Africa?

Open Panel

Abstract

Human rights violations continue to be a political reality all over the world. On a daily basis, people are executed, tortured and restrained in their freedom of expression or conscience – to list only some examples. In Europe, America and Africa, human rights courts were established to reassure compliance with human rights standards: the European Court of Human Rights, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples'' Rights. Comparing the three courts, scholars usually identify the European Court as the “precursor” of the other two. This paper deals with the question to which extent the Interamerican and the African Court were influenced in their emergence and subsequent development by the European “role model”. In concrete terms, what kind of similarities and differences exist between the courts? Do the two followers lag behind the European one? Or do they offer an even higher level of protection in certain regards? The analytical criteria to answer these questions are: the scope of jurisdiction, procedural questions and the political background. It will be argued, that in particular the latter affects judicial work. The findings show that there are indeed already instruments and structures in Latin America and Africa to legitimate a certain degree of hope for human rights standards. However, in order to utilize them to the maximum, it is the member states that have to take action and initiate a reform in order to strengthen the legal protection of individuals.