Death investigations and inquests

The right to life (Article 2), although not absolute, is the most fundamental as the enjoyment of all other rights depends on it being respected.

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is commonly split into two parts. The first is the obligation on the state (government) to protect life even if the threat to life is from another private person. This is referred to as the Article 2 substantive right. The second part is the obligation to effectively investigate death. This is known as the procedural right under Article 2. The right to life under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act requires that an effective and proper investigation be carried out into all deaths caused by the State. The investigation must involve the next-of-kin and be:



•prompt, and

•open to public scrutiny.

What is an inquest?

An inquest is an investigation of a person’s death to find out how, when and where they died. It will be held if the cause of death is unknown, the death was a result of violence or the person died in custody or any other government detention.

Direct Gov website provides further information on inquests.