You can submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights if you believe that your human rights have been violated by the authorities of the Slovak Republic (or any other state, which has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights).

However, there are some conditions which you have to take into account before you can submit a complaint:

The violation of your rights must be related to human rights, which are included in the Convention and its Protocols

The ECtHR cannot investigate cases, which do not directly relate to the human rights protected in the Convention. The Convention covers primarily civic and political rights and fundamental freedoms, including rights linked to human dignity and those related to administration of justice. Therefore you, as a rule, cannot complain about violations of your social, economic or cultural rights. As far as discrimination is concerned, you can only complain about discrimination if it is closely linked to one of the rights covered by the Convention.

example The ECtHR cannot investigate your application if it is about state tax policies or social benefit policies.

The violation has to be committed by a State institution or officials

The ECtHR cannot examine the decisions or actions of private companies, international organizations or private individuals that do not represent Slovakian State institutions.

You can only complain about a violation committed against you or against someone that you have a right to represent

You cannot complain about a violation of another person’s human rights, unless you have been granted a power of attorney to submit an application in his/her name. 

exception In a case where your family member or relative has died or disappeared as a result of a potential human rights violation, you have a right to file a complaint about such a violation in your own name, if you are personally and directly affected by it.

Before you complain to the ECtHR, you first have to complain to the institution responsible for settling such situations in Slovakia

The ECtHR cannot investigate a potential violation of your rights if you have not first tried to resolve the problem using all the usual complaint mechanisms that are available under national law. Not exhausting all domestic remedies is one of the most frequent reasons for declaring a complaint inadmissible by the Court.

example If you believe that the judge in your trial is not impartial or independent, you first have to request his/her withdrawal from the case. In a case where the judge refuses, you must complain about it in your appeal to a higher court. Only after this can you complain to the ECtHR.

You must submit your complaint within 4 months of the violation or the last negative decision in your situation

A complete application, with all the documents that are required by the Court, must be sent in within 4 months of the last decision of the Slovakian state authorities or court concerning your complaint. If there is no institution to which to complain about such a violation, the time limit is measured from the date of the possible violation. The 4-month period will expire on its last date even if it falls on a weekend or a holiday. Therefore, make sure you send the application before the deadline - the date of the postal stamp on your application will be considered the date of submission.

note If the last decision of a national authority or court was taken before 1 February 2022, you have 6 months to file a complaint.

important You should send your application as soon as possible, as the Court may ask you for additional documents which you have not included with your initial application. You will not be given additional time to submit these documents to the court. All the requested documents must be sent before the initial 4-month time limit expires, otherwise your application will be considered and rejected as inadmissible.

The violation of your human rights cannot have already been settled or examined by another human rights body

If the damage caused by a violation has been rectified or compensated for by the Slovakian courts or state authorities, the ECtHR will refuse to accept your application.

example If you were not allowed to submit your arguments or observations in the court of first instance, but the court of appeal has quashed the judgement of the court of first instance and allowed you to participate fully in an oral hearing, your complaint will be rejected as inadmissible.

There must be significant harm caused to you by a violation of your human rights

In some cases, such as possible torture, inhumane treatment or unlawful deprivation of liberty, the harm done by a violation is presumed to be significant because of the importance of that right itself. However, in other cases the disadvantage created by a violation of your human rights must be significant enough for the court to take up your case. 

example If you have lost €50 as a result of a violation of your property rights, the Court will most likely examine and reject your complaint as inadmissible.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education