Right to an effective remedy

What is an effective remedy?

The word ‘remedy’ means ‘a method of legally solving a problem or disagreement’. In other words, it is the relief that individuals whose rights have been violated can obtain. 

An effective remedy must be sufficient, accessible and reasonably prompt. 

A thorough and effective investigation, compensation, the annulment of a legal act that was adopted in violation of human rights, or sanctions placed on those responsible for the wrongdoings – all these are examples of an effective remedy. 

note There is no closed list of effective remedies: it depends on the individual circumstances of each case. The key point is that an effective remedy provides sufficient relief to the person who suffered from the violation of their rights. 

Who protects this right?

As the State is the main guarantor of human rights, it is the task of domestic authorities to ensure that persons whose rights were not respected can submit their claim to public sector institutions and courts, and receive an appropriate remedy. However, a particular form of remedy is not implied in this right – a state can decide on the most appropriate relief. 

note The right to an effective remedy is often linked to substantive rights: the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial and others. 

International recognition of this right

The right to an effective remedy is key to the enjoyment of human rights. Not all violations may be prevented, but all require appropriate redress. 

The first catalogue of human rights – the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – states in Article 8: 

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

This right is also found in all the most important international and regional human rights conventions.

In context

Sources

Last updated 21/03/2024