Where to complain about human rights violation
In this section you will find information on international bodies providing protection in the case of violation of human rights. These bodies carefully analyse whether all available domestic remedies have been exhausted.
European Court for Human Rights (ECHR)
The European Court of Human Rights was set up in 1959 in Strasbourg, France, on the legal basis of the European Convention on Human Rights to ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the Parties to the Convention, member states of the Council of Europe. ECHR deals with individual and inter-State petitions. At the request of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Court may also give advisory opinions concerning the interpretation of the Conventions and the Protocols thereto. The Committee of Ministers exercises the control over the implementation of the judgments, too. The judgments of the Court are legally binding on the parties of the Convention.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elects the judges of the European Court of Human Rights (one pre member state of the Council of Europe) for the term of 6 years, and may be re-elected.
The governmental Agent, whose office is a part of the structure of the Ministry of Justice, represents the Slovak Republic in proceedings before the Court.
Council of Europe
Ministry of Justice of the SR
Information Office of the Council of Europe in Bratislava
Some of the international treaties, to which Slovakia is a Party, provide individuals, groups of individuals or non-governmental organizations a possibility to submit a communication against the state, claiming to be victims of violation of any of their rights stated in particular treaty.
The UN Treaties containing complaint mechanisms to which Slovakia is a Party:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol (120/1976 Coll. and 169/1991 Coll.)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (95/1974 Coll.)
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (143/1988 Coll.)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (62/1987 Coll.)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol (317/2010 Coll. and 318/2010 Coll.)
The announcement of succession of the Slovak Republic to the international treaties acceded by Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, which came into force for Slovakia, can be found in 53/1994 Coll.
Individual communications are under review of Treaty Bodies – bodies created directly by the respective treaties. Slovakia recognizes the competence of following bodies:
- Human Rights Committee (HRC)
- Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
- Committee Against Torture (CAT)
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
In 2009, the Slovak Republic signed the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is to allow for filing individual complaints in the future. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child is currently being drafted by a Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council. For more information:
Communication to relevant committee (CHR, CERD, CAT and CEDAW) may be submitted by a person under the jurisdiction of the Slovak Republic claiming to be victim of a violation of any of the rights under the respective treaty.
It is not necessary to have a lawyer prepare your case, although legal advice might improve the quality of the submission. The UN does not provide legal aid or financial assistance to authors, nor are state parties required to provide legal aid where an individual wishes to submit a communication. There may be also a claim on behalf of another person on condition of obtaining his or her written consent. In certain cases, the case may be submitted without such consent. For example, where parents bring cases on behalf of children or guardians on behalf of persons unable to give formal consent, or where a person is in prison without access to the outside world, the relevant committee will not require formal authorization to file a complaint on another's behalf.
Communication needs to be submitted in one of the UN official languages (English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian or Arabic). There is no stipulated time limit within which to bring a claim, but very long delays in bringing the claim may lessen the credibility of the claim. It is usually appropriate, however, to submit a complaint as soon as possible, after having exhausted all available domestic remedies. A claim should be in writing, duly signed and provide basic personal information – name, nationality and date of birth – and specify the State Party against which your complaint is directed. If the claim is brought on behalf of another person, you should provide a proof of their consent, as noted above, or state clearly why such consent cannot be provided. All the facts on which your claim is based should be set out in chronological order. The claimant should also detail the steps taken to exhaust the remedies available in the country and state whether he/she submitted a case to another mechanisms of international investigation or settlement (in the case when the complaint was investigated by another international body, particular committee can decline the complaint). Lastly, claimant should explain how the outlined facts constitute a violation of the treaty in question. It is helpful, though not strictly necessary, to identify the articles of the treaty that have allegedly been violated.
Complaint procedure is regulated in particular Treaties and in detail in the Rules of Procedure of the Treaty Bodies. After submission of the complaint, the Treaty Body decides whether there has been any violation of the law and proposes next steps to be undertaken by the State concerned. Decisions of these committees, unlike judgements of European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, are not judicial decisions. Opinions of the committees are recommendations for member states. The Ministry of Foreign Affaires of the Slovak Republic submits year reports on the state of individual communications to the Government of the Slovak Republic. The last report is available at Documents of the Government of the SR.
For more information about the individual complaints mechanism within UN system: United Nations Human Rights.
The Ministry of Foreign Affaires of the Slovak Republic warns that this information has just an informative character. Individual claimants themselves manage and file their complaints. Our Ministry does not provide any legal or advisory services.
Human rights protection is an integral part of the Treaty of the EU and a first-rate condition for candidate countries to become an EU member: „The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States. The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.“
Human rights procedures within European Court of Justice are in the competence of Ministry of Justice. For more information: Ministry of Justice of the SR.