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Campbell and Cosens v. The United Kingdom

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Court/Judicial body: European Court of Human Rights 

Citation: Application no. 7511/76; 7743/76 
Date: 25 February 1982 
Instrument(s) cited: European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Case summary

The parents of two children argued that the practice of corporal punishment on children in schools violated their right to ensure the education of their children “in conformity with their .. philosophical convictions” (protocol 1, art. 2), namely that children should not be subjected to physical punishment. They also argued that the threat of corporal punishment constituted torture, inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 3). One child was suspended as a result of his parents unwillingness to accept the practice of corporal punishment, and so his mother argued that his right to an education had been violated (protocol 1, art. 2). The court ruled that the rights of the parents to bring up their children in conformity with their philosophical convictions had been violated, and that the child who had been suspended had been deprived of his right to an education. While the court found that corporal punishment may in some circumstances constitute torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the threat of such punishment might be such a violation, it was not in this case. The UK judge dissented, arguing that the UK government’s partial reservation to Article 2 of Protocol 1 covered the violation. 

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