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.
PLEASE NOTE: This site is independently operated by the staff of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. It has no official affiliation with the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights.
Paradiso and Campanelli v. Italy (no. 25358/12) - Grand Chamber Judgment 24 January 2017. The case concerned the placement in social-service care of a nine-month-old child who had been born in Russia following a gestational surrogacy contract entered into by a couple; it subsequently transpired that they had no biological relationship with the child. In its judgment of 27 January 2015, the Court's Second Section found a violation of ECHR Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), "in particular that the public-policy considerations underlying Italian authorities’ decisions – finding that the applicants had attempted to circumvent the prohibition in Italy on using surrogacy arrangements and the rules governing international adoption – could not take precedence over the best interests of the child, in spite of the absence of any biological relationship and the short period during which the applicants had cared for him. Reiterating that the removal of a child from the family setting was an extreme measure that could be justified only in the event of immediate danger to that child, the Court considered that, in the present case, the conditions justifying a removal had not been met. However, the Court’s conclusions were not to be understood as obliging the Italian State to return the child to the applicants, as he had undoubtedly developed emotional... more
Osmanoğlu and Kocabaş v Switzerland (no. 29086/12) [judgment in French only] - Third Section Judgment 10 January 2017. A Muslim husband and wife, Swiss nationals with Turkish nationality, refused to permit their young daughters to attend compulsory mixed swimming classes at school, citing violation of their religious beliefs, and were fined for acting in breach of their parental duty. Their appeals in the Swiss courts were denied. In its decision of 10 January 2017 the Court foun no violation of the applicants' Article 9 rights, holding that though the applicants’ right to manifest their religion was in issue, "the authorities’ refusal to grant them an exemption from swimming lessons had been an interference with the freedom of religion, that interference being prescribed by law and pursuing a legitimate aim (protection of foreign pupils from any form of social exclusion)." However, the "school played a special role in the process of social integration... more
The COURTalks-disCOURs videos are geared to providing legal professionals, as well as civil society representatives, with an overview of the Court’s jurisprudence in different matters. Made in cooperation with the European HELP programme, these educational videos are subtitled in different languages and are available with a transcript setting out the relevant case-law precedents in each sphere.
Taran v. Russia (no. 11327/10) - Communicated 2 May 2016. Old Believer accused of crimes, remanded in custody, and forcibly shaved off by prinson officer, complains that the decision to remand lacked sufficient reason, that his Convention rights were violated when prison officials forcibly shaved the beard required by his faith.
Hamidović v. Bosnia and Herzegovina (no. 57792/15) - Communicated 24 March 2016. Adherent of Wahhabi/Salafi version of Islam called to testify in court alleges violation of Convention rights in punishment for refusing to remove his cap (symbol of his religion) in the courtroom.
Pingen v. Germany (no. 11344/16) and Tlpak v. Germany (no. 11308/16) - Communicated 16 March 2016. Applicant members of the Twelve Tribes church (Zwölf Stämme) complain, mainly under Article 8, about decisions of the domestic courts regarding custody of their children.
Aydan and Others v. Armenia (no. 75604/11) - Communicated 29 February 2016. Four Jehovah's Witnesses complain of detention following their objection to the fact that the presecribed alternative to military service was still under supervision of the military.