eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • January - February 2009 : Status of Religious Communities and ECtHR

In January and February 2009, the European Court of Human Rights made several rulings against Austria.
In the case Verein der Freunde der Christengemeinschaft and others (26th February 2009, 76581/01), the Court referred to a previous ruling in respect of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (31st July 2008, 40825/98) and stated that there had been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It considered that the requirement to exist for ten years as a registered religious community before being recognised as a religious society under public law was not justified in the case of this religious community, which had already been long established in the country and was therefore well known to the relevant authorities.
In cases Löffelmann (12th March 2009, 42967/98), Gütl (12th March 2009, 49686/99) and Lang (19th March 2009, 28648/03), the Court also found violations of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 9 of the ECHR. As exemption from military service was granted only to ministers of recognised religions, it was not granted to Jehovah’s Witnesses ministers, as they were part of a registered religious community and not of a church or society recognised in law. Since this difference in treatment was not based on an "objective and reasonable justification", it constitutes discrimination.
In the meantime, the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture has presented a draft decree that would allow the religious society of Jehovah’s Witnesses to obtain the status of religious society as recognised in public law.

D 2 mars 2009   

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