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Leela Förderkreis E.V. and others v. Germany, No. 58911/00, ECtHR (Fifth Section), 6 November 2008

Type Judgment
Case number 58911/00


Meditation groups labelled as "sects" in the context of Government information campaigns. Non-violation of Article 9 of the ECHR. Excessive length of internal judicial proceedings. Violation of Article 6 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 6 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1.  Church or an ecclesiastical body may, as such, exercise on behalf of its adherents the rights guaranteed by Article 9 of the Convention.

2. Religious freedom includes, in principle, the right to try to convince one’s neighbour, for example through “teaching”, failing which, moreover, “freedom to change [one’s] religion or belief”, enshrined in Article 9 of the Convention, would be likely to remain a dead letter.

3. The freedom of thought, conscience and religion denotes views that attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.

4. A power of preventive intervention is consistent with the Contracting Parties’ positive obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to secure the rights and freedoms of persons within their jurisdiction. Those obligations relate not only to any interference that may result from acts or omissions imputable to agents of the State or occurring in public establishments, but also to interference imputable to private individuals within non-State entities.
(In the present case, the German Government had launched information and education campaigns in which the applicant associations, belonging to the Osho Movement, had been identified as "sects". The Court considers that the State acted in the fulfillment of its duty to impart to the public information in matters of general concern and that the measure adopted was justified in principle and proportionate)