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Ossewaarde v. Russia, No. 27227/17, ECtHR (Third Section), 7 March 2023


Anti-terrorism law and individual evangelism

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR


1. While States are entitled under the Convention to require registration of religious denominations in a manner compatible with Articles 9 and 11, sanctioning individual members of an unregistered religious entity for praying or otherwise manifesting their religious beliefs is incompatible with the Convention.
To admit the contrary would amount to the exclusion of minority religious beliefs which are not formally registered with the State and, consequently, would amount to accepting that a State can dictate what a person must believe.

2. The exercise of the right to freedom of religion or of one of its aspects, including freedom to manifest one’s beliefs and to talk to others about them, cannot be made conditional on any acts of State approval or administrative registration because of the risk that a State would dictate what a person must believe. Accordingly, sanctioning the applicant for the alleged failure to inform the authorities of the establishment of a religious group was also not “necessary in a democratic society”.