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Exploring the Prohibition of Degrading Treatment within Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Webster, Elaine and Tierney, Stephen (2009) Exploring the Prohibition of Degrading Treatment within Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the meaning and scope of application of the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment, a distinct form of harm within the absolute prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Through an interpretive case-law analysis, the thesis presents a deeper conceptual understanding of the meaning of degrading treatment than is found in existing human rights literature. It is a central argument of this thesis that the concept of human dignity occupies a key position in the interpretation of degrading treatment adopted by the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently, it is argued that the meaning of human dignity in this context ‘frames’ the potential boundaries of the right. The thesis aims to facilitate identification of situations that may convincingly be argued to amount to potential instances of degrading treatment through generating a richer appreciation of the right’s proper scope of concern. A comprehensive account of the meaning of degrading treatment and corresponding state obligations is offered. This account provides a framework for future application of the right that is both practical and plausible.