Effective Investigations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights: Securing the Right to Life or an Onerous Burden on a State?

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Abstract

Articles 1 and 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, when read together, require a proper and adequate official investigation into deaths resulting from the actions of state agents, both from the use of lethal force, and also in situations arising from the negligence of agents that leads to a death. The article considers the extent of the obligation to carry out an effective investigation since its explicit recognition by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of <it>McCann and Others v. United Kingdom</it>. The article assesses the jurisprudence of the duty to investigate in order to determine whether the obligation is now placing too onerous a burden on member states in order to comply with their duties under the Convention, or whether the duty does indeed secure the right to life, as is intended. To assess the original proposition, the article considers the jurisprudence of the duty to investigate in relation to the following applications: early forays into the application of the duty; fatalities arising from non-lethal force; the influential quartet of cases arising out of the Northern Ireland troubles; recent judgments concerning cases arising out of the conflict in Chechnya; and finally through to a critical review of the effectiveness of the European Court.

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