Friday, May 15, 2020

European Court Says Muslim Inmate's Religious Rights Were Infringed In Russian Prison

The European Court of Human Rights this week handed down an opinion in the case of a Muslim inmate in a Russian prison who claims that his religious rights were infringed in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights when he was reprimanded for praying in the middle of the night during Ramadan.  In Korostelev v. Russia, (ECHR, May 12, 2020), the court said in part:
Religious freedom is primarily a matter of individual thought and conscience..... However, ... freedom of religion also encompasses the freedom to manifest one’s belief.... The manifestation of religious belief may take the form of worship, teaching, practice and observance.... Since the manifestation by one person of his or her religious belief may have an impact on others, ... any limitation placed on a person’s freedom to manifest religion or belief must be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society in pursuit of one or more of the legitimate aims set out therein...
From the Government’s submission and the findings of the domestic authorities, it appears that the only reason for disciplining the applicant was the formal incompatibility of his actions with the prison schedule and the authorities’ attempt to ensure full and unconditional compliance with that schedule by every prisoner.
... Although the Court recognises the importance of prison discipline, it cannot accept such a formalistic approach, which palpably disregarded the applicant’s individual situation and did not take into account the requirement of striking a fair balance between the competing private and public interests.
The court in a chamber judgment awarded plaintiff 2600 Euros in damages and another 2000 Euros for costs and expenses. Law & Religion UK reports further on the case.