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Harris, O'Boyle, and Warbrick: Law of the European Convention on Human Rights

Harris, O'Boyle, and Warbrick: Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (4th edn)

David Harris, Michael O'Boyle, Ed Bates, and Carla Buckley
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date: 25 September 2022

p. 49110. Article 7: Freedom from retroactive criminal offences and punishmentlocked

p. 49110. Article 7: Freedom from retroactive criminal offences and punishmentlocked

  • David Harris, David HarrisEmeritus Professor in Residence, and Co-Director, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham
  • Michael O’Boyle, Michael O’BoyleDeputy Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights (2006–2015)
  • Ed BatesEd BatesAssociate Professor, School of Law, University of Leicester
  •  and Carla BuckleyCarla BuckleyResearch Fellow, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham

Abstract

This chapter discusses Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which incorporates the principle of legality, by which, in the context of criminal law, a person should only be convicted and punished on a basis of law. Article 7 prohibits the retroactive application of criminal offences and of sentences imposed for them. The guarantee in Article 7 is an essential element of the rule of law, and has as its object and purpose the provision of effective safeguards against arbitrary conviction and punishment. An exception is allowed for offences that were contrary to general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.

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