Judges of the European Court of Human Rights Assume Duties

Friday, 4 November 2011, marked significant events for the European Court of Human Rights. On that day the judge elected in respect of France, Mr. André Potocki, was sworn in by the new Court President Sir Nicolas Bratza, whose term of office also began on the same day.

Three-year terms of office also began on November 4 for new Court Vice-President Judge Josep Casadevall (Andorra) and new Section President, Lech Garlicki (Poland)….

B.C. Supreme Court Upholds Canada’s Anti-Polygamy Laws

23 November 2011. Though admitting that the law “does infringe on religious freedom,” a British Columbia Supreme Court has upheld Canada’s polygamy laws. In a 335-page decision released on Wednesday, Chief Justice Robert Bauman ruled in favour of the section of the Criminal Code outlawing polygamous unions. In his ruling, Bauman said that the law is justified given the harm polygamy causes to children, women, and “the institution of monogamous marriage.” However, suggested Justice Bauman, the law should not be used to criminalize minors who find themselves married into polygamous unions.

25 November 2011. Canada has “as many double standards on polygamy as Solomon had wives. (Tabatha Southey, The Globe and Mail via Worldwide Religious News)

Sir Nicolas Bratza Takes Office as President of the Court

The new President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza, who was elected in July 2011, took up his duties on 4 November 2011. He is the third British President in the history of the Court, following Lord McNair, who served as President of the Court from 1959 till 1965, and Sir Humphrey Waldock, who served from 1971 till 1974. 

Sir Nicolas replaces Jean-Paul Costa (French), who has been the Court’s President since 19 January 2007. Having turned 70 years old on 3 November 2011, Mr. Costa was required by Article 23 § 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights to step down.

First Comprehensive Guide to European Non-discrimination Law Launched

21 March 2011 – Strasboug
FRA Press Release

The first comprehensive guide to European non-discrimination law was launched by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 21 March 2011, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination….

FRA, OSCE/ODIHR and ECRI Issue Joint Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – 21 March 2011

21 March 2011 – Strasbourg, Vienna, Warsaw

In a joint statement issued on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Nils Muiznieks, Chair of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI); Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA); and Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), strongly condemned manifestations of racism and related…

Religious Trusts Team Up to Oppose Direct Tax Code in India

February 2011 – Mumbai
James Cleith Phillips

Various religious faiths in India are joining forces to combat the Direct Tax Code, which would remove the exception for religious trusts from having to pay income and wealth taxes. Trusts that benefit only a particular religious community or caste would not be given non-profit organization status, and would be required to pay a wealth tax on their assests. To view the complete story click Times of India  (the 12 February edition).

European Court of Human Rights Finds No Violation of Lautsi Applicants’ Rights

18 March 2011 – Strasbourg
Laura Asioli

In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Lautsi and Others v. Italy (application no. 30814/06), which is final, the European Court of Human Rights held, by a substantial majority (15 votes to two), that there had been: “No violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) to the European Convention on Human Rights. As discussed in the previous article published on the Strasbourg Consortium website on 9 March 2011, the case concerned the presence of crucifixes in State-school classrooms in Italy, which, according to the applicants, was incompatible with the obligation on the State, in the exercise of the functions which it assumed in relation to education and to teaching, to respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in accordance with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

In its decision, the Grand Chamber stated that while the crucifix was above all a religious symbol, there was no evidence before the Court that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils.

Court Rules Complaints against Swiss Minaret Ban Inadmissible

July 2011 – Strasbourg

Following the 26 November 2009 popular vote (57.5%) in Switzerland to prohibit the building of minarets, the European Court of Human Rights received a number of complaints. On 28 June 2011 the Court ruled the following applications inadmissible:

Ligue des Musulmans de Suisse and Others v. Switzerland (no. 66274/09) and Ouardiri v. Switzerland (no. 665840/09).

The Court ruled that the applicants, though offended, were not victims in any sense defined by the European Convention and could not claim damage from theoretical future events, reiterating that Article 13 (guarantee of effective remedy) does not guarantee a remedy “allowing a State’s legislation to be challenged on the ground of being contrary to the Convention.”…

New Recommendations on Christian Evangelism Ethics Stress Religious Freedom and Responsibility

On 28 June 2011, a coalition of the Vatican and major Protestant and Evangelical churches announced in Geneva new ethical standards for Christian missionary activities. Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct is the product of five years of consultations among the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Association. “This document is the latest in a series of missionary ‘codes of conduct’ produced…

The Beatification of Pope John Paul II – Sunday, 1 May 2011

1 May 2011 – Vatican City

Information about the beatification of Pope John Paul II is available here. The Vatican has decreed that Sister Marie Simon-Pierre’s inexplicable cure from Parkinson’s disease was the miracle needed to beatify John Paul. Her story was highlighted at the all-night prayer vigil on the Saturday night before the beatification Mass at the Vatican on 1 May 2011. Video of the Mass and related events may be viewed here.

Grand Chamber Judgment in Lautsi : Ongoing News and Opinion

Ongoing 2011 – Strasbourg

On 18 March 2011 the European Court of Human Rights announced a Grand Chamber Judgment, a ruling in favor of Italy, in the controversial Lautsi and Others v. Italy – a case predicted to become “a flash point in the religious history of Europe.” The Court press release is available in English, FrenchItalian, and German. More information about the history of the case, including summaries of the arguments, documents of intervention, and selected scholarly commentary, can be found on this website and on the website of the European Centre for Law and Justice. For ongoing discussion since the release of the judgment, please see below: &nbsp…

Court Set to Announce Grand Chamber Decision in Lausti v. Italy on 18 March 2011

9 March 2011 – Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights has announced that the Grand Chamber has reached its decision in the controversial “Italian Crucifix” case, Lautsi v. Italy (no. 30814/06). Parties to the case were informed on 9 March that the decision had been reached on 16 February and would be announced to the public at 3 p.m., local time, on 18 March 2011 in the Human Rights Building in Strasbourg. The original Court ruling in favor of the applicant, Soile Lautsi, taken by the Second Section on 9 November 2009, ignited international interest and an immediate appeal by Italy, which was accompanied  by an unprecedented number of third-party interventions. The case was heard by the Grand Chamber on 30 June 2010.  At issue is not only the right of those such…