Public Morals and the ECHR

19 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2014

Date Written: January 20, 2014


The instruments for the protection of rights and fundamental liberties, both in a national and in an international context, constantly feature the presence of dispositions which allow the limitation of such rights in order to safeguard certain interests. Among these interests frequently appears the protection of ‘public morals’. This phrase, or similar expressions, are present not only in many constitutional charters, but also in several international covenants aimed at protecting human rights. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (henceforth: the ECHR) is not an exception in this context: In the text, indeed, the ‘morals’ are mentioned as a legitimate aim that justifies the restriction of some rights granted by the Convention itself. More precisely, the clause is referred to in articles 6.1, 8.2., 9.2, 10.2, 11.2, concerning respectively the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for ‘ private and family life, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the freedom of expression, and the freedom of assembly and association; moreover, the clause is mentioned at art 2.3 of the Fourth Additional Protocol to the Convention, concerning freedom of movement. The general clause in discourse, therefore, might be called upon in order to justify limitations to several important rights. To avoid arbitrary restrictions to these rights, it is important to understand its meaning and to single out its scope and its boundaries.

Keywords: European Law, Human Rights, Public Morals

Suggested Citation

Perrone, Roberto, Public Morals and the ECHR (January 20, 2014). University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 14-02, Available at SSRN:

Roberto Perrone (Contact Author)

University of Ferrara ( email )

Via del Gregorio 13
Ferrara, 44100

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