What is article 3 safeguarding?

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Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) relates to the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. It is a fundamental provision that protects individuals from severe forms of abuse, ill-treatment, or punishment. While Article 3 itself does not explicitly use the term "safeguarding," it plays a crucial role in safeguarding individuals from actions or conditions that would violate their dignity and well-being.

Key points regarding Article 3 safeguarding:


Article 3 of the ECHR states:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

  • Prohibition of Torture: Article 3 unequivocally prohibits torture. Torture involves the deliberate infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering by a public official or with their consent or acquiescence.

  • Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: In addition to torture, Article 3 also prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment. This covers a broader range of actions, encompassing any act or treatment that causes physical or mental suffering or humiliation to an extent that is considered unacceptable in a civilized society.

  • Absolute Right: Article 3 is an absolute right, meaning it cannot be derogated from under any circumstances, even during emergencies or states of war. There are no exceptions to this prohibition.

  • Positive Obligations: Beyond merely prohibiting such treatment, Article 3 also places positive obligations on states to take effective measures to prevent torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. This includes investigating allegations, prosecuting perpetrators, and ensuring that conditions of detention or custody are humane.

  • Application to Various Contexts: Article 3 applies to a wide range of situations, including those involving detainees, prisoners, individuals in immigration detention, individuals with mental health issues, and more. It extends to actions by state agents as well as private individuals or entities acting with state involvement or acquiescence.

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