Friday, June 16, 2017

European Court Finds Bulgaria Violated Convention In Refusing To Recognize Ahmadiyya Group

In Metodiev and Others v. Bulgaria, (ECHR, June 15, 2017), (full text of opinion in French), the European Court of Human Rights in a Chamber Judgment held that Bulgaria had violated the European Convention on Human Rights Art. 9 (freedom of religion) in refusing to register the new Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a denomination under Bulgaria's Religions Act.  According to the Court's press release summarizing the decision:
the sole reason given by the Supreme Court of Cassation for the refusal was the lack of a sufficiently precise and clear indication of the beliefs and rites of the Ahmadi religion in the association’s constitution. The domestic court had concluded that the constitution did not meet the statutory requirements of the Religions Act, which sought to distinguish between the various religions and to avoid confrontation between religious communities....
The Court took the view that the approach adopted by the Court of Cassation would lead in practice to refusing registration of any new religious association having the same doctrine as an existing religion. That approach could result in allowing the existence of only one religious association for each religious movement and in requiring all followers to adhere to it.
A Chamber Judgment may be appealed to the Grand Chamber.