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Course title: The Right to Life and the Prohibition of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment


Lecturer: Julia Kozma, independent consultant on prison and police matters, post-doc researcher on measures against impunity, lecturer in human rights and Master course responsible at the University of Strasbourg.

Semester: 2nd semester

Language of instruction: English




Basic understanding of human rights law

Brief outline of the course:


“Article 2 [of the European Convention of Human Rights], which safeguards the right to life and sets out the  circumstances when deprivation of life may be justified, ranks as one of the most fundamental provisions in the Convention, to which no  derogation is permitted. Together with Article 3 [the prohibition of  torture and other forms of ill-treatment], it also enshrines one of the basic values of the democratic societies making up the Council of Europe.”
Indeed, notwithstanding the notion that all human rights are equally important for a dignified human existence, it is evident that none of  the other rights could be applied if the right to life was violated. The Court puts the right not to be subjected to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which constitutes an absolute right, on an equal footing with the right to life, as it enshrines the fundamental notion of the inviolability of human dignity.
Both rights raise a number of complex legal and moral questions, which illustrate the dilemmas often faced by those who are called to adjudicate on them.

Learning outcomes:


Exemplary for many other rights, these two provisions provide an excellent opportunity to discuss the main difference between absolute rights and rights that are subject to limitations, thereby enhancing the students’ skill to apply the proportionality test, as well as to comprehend State obligations.



Interactive seminar, if time allows followed by a practical exercise.


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