"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."
— John Milton
"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.
Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and Professor Javier Martínez-Torrón of the Law Faculty of Complutense University in Madrid, General Reporters for the topic Religion and the Secular State for The 18th Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law, along with Donlu Thayer, Project Editor, are pleased to announce the publication in final form of the National Reports prepared on this topic.
The Congress is the once-every-four-years meeting of the experts of the International Academy of Comparative Law. The 18th Congress, held in Washington, DC, in July 2010, was the first Congress of this 90-year-old Academy to be held in the United States. The Reports prepared on the topic Religion and the Secular State for this occasion by 60 experts from 45 countries were published... more
Al Nashiri v. Poland (no. 28761/11) and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland (no. 7511/13) - Chamber Judgments 24 July 2014 - The applicants are both suspected terrorists held by the CIA at a secret CIA "black site" in Poland. The applicants complained about their detention, and the Court found that there had been violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment) as well as Articles 5, 8, 13, 6 § 1, and (in the case of Al Nashiri) Articles 2 and 3 taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 6. Press releases are available in English and French.
Hämäläinen v. Finland (no. 37359/09) - Grand Chamber Judgment 16 July 2014: The Court upheld a 2012 Fourth Section judgment regarding civil unions. The applicant is a Finnish national who underwent male-to-female gender reassignment surgery in 2009. Having previously changed her first names, she wished to obtain a new identity number that would indicate her female gender in her official documents. However, in order to do so her marriage to a woman would have had to be turned into a civil partnership, which she refused to accept. She complained under Articles 8, 12, and 14. However, the Grand Chamber agreed that there had been no violation of the applicant's rights.
S.A.S. v. France (no. 43835/11) - Grand Chamber Judgment 1 July 2014: The Court upheld a 2011 ban by France on full-face veils in public. The applicant, a French national and Muslim woman, complained that the law violated her rights under Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), and 10 (freedom of expression), as well as Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). The Court found that "respect for the minimum set of values of an open democratic society," specifically the minimum requirements for "living together," outweighed the individual's choice to wear a full-face veil. By "raising a veil concealing the face" an... more
Samadov v. Azerbaijan (no. 48431/11) - Communicated 30 June 2014. The chairman of the Azerbaijan Islamic Party is appealing his arrest after giving a speech criticizing the government and the ban on wearing Islamic veils in schools.
Holmatova and Others v. Turkey (no. 14355/13) - Communicated 26 June 2014. An Uzbek family who fled religious persecution seeks asylum in Turkey and complains about the conditions of their conditions.
1 July 2014
In a Grand Chamber judgment in S.A.S. v. France (no. 43835/11), the Court upheld a 2011 ban by France on full-face veils in public. The applicant, a French national and Muslim woman, complained that the law violated her rights under Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), and 10 (freedom of expression), as well as Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).
The Court ruled that the ban did not violate any article of the Convention. The Court found that "respect for the minimum set of values of an open democratic society," specifically the minimum requirements for "living together," outweighed the individual's choice to wear a full-face veil. By "raising a veil concealing the face" an individual could violate the "right of others to live in a space of socialisation which made living together easier." Furthermore, the Court pointed out that while the ban disproportionately affected Muslim women wishing to wear a full-face veil, there was nothing in the law which expressly focused on religious clothing; the ban also prevented any item of clothing which covers the face.
The Second Annual Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Summer Academy, which took place 23-27 June 2014 at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, UK, was enjoyed by more than 100 participants and presenters from 20 countries. The summer academy is a major international event which brings together leading academics, policy makers, international officials, and practicing lawyers working in the field of law, religion, and international relations. This year's event included a number of parliamentarians and other government officials, editors of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, members of clergy, representatives of NGOs and think-tanks, academics and organizational researchers, as well as students, publishers, journalists, and other visitors.
Keynote addresses were delivered by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Member, House of Lords, and Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief of the British Parliament; Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Commissioner, United State Commission on International Religious Freedom; Professor Paul Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology in the... more