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Welcome to the Site of the Strasbourg Consortium 
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PLEASE NOTE: This site has no official affiliation with the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights. It is independently operated by the staff of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School in the United States. 

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.  For links to information on the operations of the Court, see About the Court.

Image for Recent Decisions, Judgments, and Hearings

Mariya Alekhina and Others v. Russia (no. 38004/12 - Third Section Chamber Judgment 17 July 2018. The case concerns the feminist punk band Pussy Riot and an impromptu performance they staged at a cathedral in Moscow. The applicants were arrested and charged with “a violation of public order” and “insulting the feelings of church members.” A similar complaint was lodged by the director of the Christ the Savior Cathedral Fund, claiming that the applicants' actions insulted the Russian Orthodox Church and were meant to inflame religious hatred. Each of the three applicants was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, holding that the applicants' actions showed their "animosity towards the feelings of Orthodox believers, and that the religious feelings of those present in the cathedral had therefore been offended." The applicants brought complaints about cruel treatment (ECHR Art. 3),  right to liberty and security (Art. 5 § 3), (Art. 6) (unfair trial conditions),   and restrictions to their freedom of expression (Art. 10). In its judgment of 17 July 2018 the Court found violations of all four aticles and awarded non-pecuniary damages as well as costs and expenses. 

Gülbahar Özer and Yusuf Özer v Turkey... more

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Christian Religious Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the NKR v. Armenia (no. 41817/10) - Communicated 15 March 2018. The applicants are the Christian Religious Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses NKR, a religious community established in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh in 1993 ("the applicant community") and an Armenian national, Mr. Sargis Avanesyan, the community elder living in Stepanakert ("the applicant").  In June 2009, the applicant community applied to the NKR Government for state registration. In July 2009, the NKR government staff provided an expert opinion to determine if the applicant community fulfilled the requirements of Article 5 of the NKR law.  The expert opinion concluded that by their ideology, the applicant community is  "far from a Christian organization." In August 2009, the State Registry Department rejected the application relying on the expert opinion.  In spring of 2010, the police raided the religious meetings of the applicant community and arrested five members who were charged with an administrative offense. The applicants complain under Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention of the continued refusal of the NKR authorities to register... more

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Kàroly Nagy v. Hungary (no. 56665/09) - Grand Chamber Judgment 14 September 2017). Kàroly Nagy, a pastor in the Hungarian Calvinist Church, was dismissed following a disciplinary procedure in 2006. He initiated labor-law proceedings for unpaid renumeration against the church, but complained that his case was dismissed by state courts because they are ecclesiastical in nature. Mr Nagy then brought proceedings before both the labour and civil courts. Both sets of proceedings were ultimately discontinued on the ground that the courts had no jurisdiction. The labour courts discontinued the proceedings in December 2006, on the ground that the dispute concerned Mr Nagy’s service as a pastor and therefore the provisions of Labour Law were not applicable in his case. That decision was upheld on appeal in April 2007. Mr Nagy’s civil-law claim was also ultimately... more

 

The Copenhagen Declaration (full text) (High Level Conference, The Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe)

Draft Copenhagen Declaration (full text) (The Danish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe)

Commentary on the Final Copenhagen Declaration (Janneke Gerards and Sarah Lambrecht, ECHR Blog)

ECtHR: Opinion on the draft Copenhagen Declaration (European Court of Human Rights, 

... more