This Handbook deals with the right to life, as guaranteed by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights ("the Court") under that article. In summarising the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (and where relevant, of the European Commission on Human Rights, abolished by Protocol No. 11 to the Convention) on Article 2, reference is however often also made to more general issues, to other rights in the Convention, and to issues outside the Convention (such as other European or United Nations standards), as reflected in that case-law. This handbook is aimed, in particular, at judges and other legal professionals such as prosecutors and practising lawyers. These need to understand the Convention and the case-law of the Court, in particular when the Convention is formally part of their domestic legal systems - as is the case in most of the member States of the Council of Europe. Indeed, in law, the Convention in many European countries overrides ordinary domestic law. It is therefore crucial for these legal practitioners to be aware of the detailed requirements of the Convention. More specifically, it follows from the supremacy of the Convention that the interpretation of the Convention by the European Court of Human Rights should also be followed by the national courts in these countries. The Court's judgments are not merely advisory or relevant to the respondent State in a given case only. Rather, in Council of Europe member States in which domestic law or jurisprudence proclaims the supremacy of international law in general, and/or of international human rights law or the Convention in particular, the domestic courts must follow the European Court of Human Rights' interpretations of the Convention in their own jurisprudence. It is hoped that this handbook, together with the other handbooks already issued, will help them do so.
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