"There will be no peace in our world without an understanding of the place of religion within it." — Tony Blair
This site is dedicated to reporting and commenting upon issues involving freedom of conscience, religion, or belief throughout the member states of the Council of Europe, with particular focus on the work of the European Court of Human Rights and its predecessor tribunal, the European Commission of Human Rights. We are working to make this site the definitive source of information for scholars and others interested in understanding and having some influence upon the work of the Court in this vital area. Since the decisions on the important issues pending before the Court will shape the basic contours of freedom of religion or belief for years to come, not only throughout Europe, but throughout the world as the Court and its opinions become increasingly influential, the kind of work envisioned by, and carried out by, the Strasbourg Consortium is particularly critical.
We welcome you to our site, and encourage you to investigate its possibilities to determine how it may serve you, and how you might contribute to its success.
15 March 2014. God and Government Conference, Theos Think Tank, St Matthew's Westminster, 20 Great Peter St, London SW1P 2BU, United Kingdom.
18 March 2014. Freedom of Religion or Belief in Pakistant. Hosted by the Hannu Takkula and the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (EPWG on FoRB), 14:00 - 15:00. For more information or to register please contact the EPWG on FoRB Secretariat Alfiaz Vaiya: firstname.lastname@example.org.
18 March 2014. ´Converted asylum seekers: the Dutch example as ´best practice´ for other EU member states?´ Hosted by Dennis de Jong MEP, 13.00 - 15.00, sandwich lunch 12.20. European Parliament, ASP A5E2. RSVP to: email@example.com.
18 March 2014. Religious minorities in Iran under Rouhani's Presidency. Event hosted by László Tőkés MEP and Human Rights Without Frontiers. European Parliament, Altiero Spinelli Building Room A5E3, 15:00-17:00. Please register to this event by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, including the following details: full name, date of birth, nationality, ID type and number.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. United Kingdom (no. 7552/09) – Chamber Judgment 4 March 2014). The applicant religious organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, complained under ECHR Article 9, alone and in conjunction with Article 14, of discrimination in regards to loss of statutory tax exemption for one of its places of worship, the Preston Temple in Lancashire, Northern England. The exemption was withdrawn because the Temple is open for worship only by worthy members of the Church and not by the general public. The applicant... more
Photo from the Facebook page of the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief
PRESS RELEASE (EPWG) — 13 February 2014
At a conference held in Brussels on February, 12 the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (EPWG), co-chaired by MEPs Peter van Dalen (ECR) and Dennis de Jong (GUE/NGL), presented its first annual report on freedom of religion in the world. The report takes stock of developments regarding religious freedom and concludes that this human right is increasingly violated, around the globe. The report proposes to give the promotion of religious freedom a more prominent place in EU foreign policy. It furthermore makes recommendations for EU action in case of fifteen countries where the situation is particularly dire.
The report was presented at a conference jointly organised with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, who also presented their annual report. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, gave the keynote speech.... more
O'Keefe v. Ireland (no. 35810/09) – Grand Chamber Judgment 28 January 2014. The case concerned the question of the responsibility of the State for the sexual abuse of a schoolgirl, aged nine, by a lay teacher in an Irish National School in 1973. By a decision of the Grand Chamber on 28 January 204, the Court held by 11 votes to 6, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) and of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the Irish State’s failure to protect the applicant from sexual abuse and her inability to obtain recognition at national level of that failure; and unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 3 ECHR as regards the investigation into the... more
"Family and Religion: Juridical Dimensions"
"Familia y Religión: Aspectos Jurídicos"
June 9-10, 2014, at University of La Coruña, Spain
The International Academy for the Study of the Jurisprudence of the Family ("IASJF") will hold its seventh international symposium on the jurisprudence of the family on Monday and Tuesday, June 9-10, 2014, at the Faculty of Law, University of La Coruña, Spain in northwest Spain.
The symposium is on "Family and Religion: Juridical Dimensions". The Symposium will address the issues related to the topic from a juridical point of view; interdisciplinary presentations are also welcome. Selected submitted papers from the 2014 Symposium... more
Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, which introduces stricter conditions for applying to the Court, came into force on 1 January 2014. It is designed to enhance the Court’s efficiency and to speed up the examination of applications. This amendment to the Rules introduces two major changes which are immediately applicable and will determine whether an application is rejected or allocated to a judicial formation.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee: Freedom of Belief Initiative’s report “The Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief in Turkey - Monitoring Report January - June 2013” has been published in English. The Report provides a human rights based systematic review of the right to freedom of religion or belief for all in Turkey.
Freedom of religion or belief for followers of all beliefs and none – both minorities and the Islamic majority – remains key to the success of Turkey’s democratisation process. While selective reforms provide occasional improvements, they lag far behind providing a holistic approach to protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief. The recent Reform Package also failed to address fundamental problems in this field, disappointing... more
The commemorative ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe took place at the Palais des Congrès in Strasbourg on 1 October.
The ceremony was marked by speeches delivered by Council of Europe leaders and prominent European figures, including Mikhaïl Gorbachev, Former President of the USSR, and José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission. Video messages from former Czech President Vaclav Havel and the astronaut of the European Space Agency Frank De Winne were screened. The Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht... more
Dean Spielmann, Judge elected on behalf of Luxembourg, assumed his term of office as President on the Court on on 1 November 2012, succeeding Sir Nicolas Bratza of the United Kingdom. Judge Spielmann has been a judge at the Court since 2004, was Section President beginning in 2011, and Vice-President from summer 2012 until he assumed the presidency.
Judge Spielmann holds Bachelor's Law Degree Catholic University of Louvain (1988) and a Master of Laws from Cambridge University (1990). He has been Barrister and Senior Barrister (Luxembourg), partner in a law firm, University lecturer, member of the Advisory Human Rights Commission, Luxembourg and the European Union Network of Independent Experts in Fundamental Rights, and is full member of the Institut Grand-Ducal.
Josep Casadevall, elected in respect of Andorra in 1996, continues to serve as Vice-President of the Court, a position he has held since November 2011. He... more
AFP (31.01.2013) - The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled Thursday in favour of three sects - including the Mandarom de Castellane - bringing a judgement against France for violation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The decision in Strasbourg invalidated tax procedures brought against the sects, ordering France to pay 3 599 551 euros to the religious association Temple Pyramide, a sect known by the name Mandarom, for "property damage", 387 722 euros to the Evangelical Missionary Church and Eric Salaûn and 36 886 euros to the Chevaliers... more
Asserting that the "right to manifest religion at work is protected but must be balanced against rights of others", the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in the consolidated cases Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom (nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10). In its ruling of 15 January 2013, the Court held
- by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned Ms Eweida
The Court held its annual press conference on 24 January 2013. On this occasion, Dean Spielmann, the President of the Court, reviewed the Court’s activities in 2012, which he described as an exceptional year for the Court, and presented its annual report.
Videos showing how to use the simple and advanced search functions of the new HUDOC database have been published by the European Court of Human Rights, in both English and French. To access the videos, click the links below:
Three handbooks were published in 2012 by the Justice and Legal Co-operation Department for the attention of legal professionals who wish to deepen their knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights. They focus on the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for private and family life and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
These handbooks have been conceived as practical tools to support judges and prosecutors to apply the Convention at national level and assist lawyers to use Convention-based arguments in national litigation. They are based on the most updated case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The authors include an academic, a national lawyer... more
The European Court of Human Rights has compiled two series of factsheets providing information about its case law, including pending cases. A series of "country profiles" provides wide-ranging State-specific information for each the forty-seven European countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, touching upon the human rights issues dealt with by the Court for each State. A compilation of "Stastistics on judgments by State" is also available, offering charts showing the subject matter of judgments for each State. In addition, a series thematic factsheets summarizes the Court's case work by topic. It is hoped that these resources will help make the Court's work and case-law better known and more accessible.
The "Conscience of Europe", which is currently available in 25 languages, is a film about the Court. This documentary, intended for the general public, shows specific examples of cases examined by the Court and considers its prospects over the forthcoming years and the challenges facing it.
- "Who can bring a case to the Court?"
- "What are the conditions of admissibility?"
- "What is the difference between a Chamber and a Section?"
- "Do judges sit in cases concerning their own country?"
- "Can the Court's composition vary from one case to another?"
- "When does a Grand Chamber hear a case?"
- "What are the different stages of proceedings before the Court?"
- "What is a pilot case?"
- "How are the Court's judgments enforced"?
To answer such questions, the European Court of Human Rights has produced the online handbook The ECHR in 50 Questions. Some answers are better suited to scholars of and practitioners before the Court than to casual readers, but the publication is helpful for anyone concerned with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and with the Court (also ECHR, or, to avoid confusion, ECtHR).