Right to Respect for Private and Family Life

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The right to private and family life protects persons against arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family, home or correspondence as well as against unlawful attacks on their honour and reputation. 

Any interference by public authorities can only take place on the basis of law. In addition, to be lawful, an interference must pursue a legitimate aim, be necessary to achieve the aim and proportionate.

In the practice of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) the right to respect for private and family life encompasses various aspects of an individual’s life in the right to:

 

  • Establish and develop relationships with other persons and broader society 

 

  • Personal privacy, which involves protection from Government or media intrusion or surveillance 

 

  • Have personal information, such as official records, photographs, letters, diaries, medical information or DNA profile kept confidential 

 

  • Have access to one’s own personal data 

 

  • Physical and psychological integrity, which is engaged by the use of restraint - the failure to obtain an individual’s consent; compulsory medical treatment; the failure to provide access to an abortion; failure to provide effective protection in domestic violence cases or corporal punishment 

 

  • Autonomy and self-determination, for example, the freedom to choose one’s own sexual identity, to develop one’s own personality or to dress in a particular way 

The right in relation to family life

The following areas will engage the right in relation to family life:

  • marriage and other forms of close personal ties, such as civil partnerships;
  • parental rights and adoption.
The right in relation to individuals' home

The right protects individuals’ correspondence, which entails the uninterrupted and uncensored communications with others. All forms of communication, including letters, phone calls and emails are protected by this right.

In relation to individuals’ home:

  • any place where a person lives on a settled basis, or where they intend to return to settle is protected;
  • the right to a healthy environment, whereby breaches can be caused by noise or industrial pollution;
  • rights and procedures related to evictions from one’s home