Implementation and Impact of Strasbourg Court Rulings: The Case of Religious Minorities and Their Convention Freedoms

Dia Anagnostou

in eds. Jeroen Temperman, T. Jeremy Gunn and Malcolm D. Evans, The European Court of Human Rights and the Freedom of Religion or Belief: The 25 Years since Kokkinakis, Brill, 2019, pp. 388-418

In the developing case law of the European Court of Human Rights (‘the Court’, or ECtHR) related to religious freedom over the past twenty-five years, the rights of adherents of minority religions occupy a prominent place. While legal scholars have explored the evolving human rights jurisprudence in this area, we still know far less as to whether national authorities actually redress the substantial number of rights violations that the Court has found in relation to religious minorities. In filling this gap, this chapter explores the measures and reforms that states undertake in complying with the ECtHR judgments related to the rights of religious minorities in five countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia and Romania. Do state authorities in these countries implement the relevant ECtHR judgments that find national law and practice to be at odds with human rights principles, and do the adopted measures enhance the religious freedom of minorities? Do they give full effect to the judgments, or do they only partially or superficially do so? Besides exploring the general measures that these national authorities implement, this study also comparatively analyses the factors that account for variations in state compliance with ECtHR judgments related to the religious freedom of minorities. The chapter argues that implementation of ECtHR rulings to redress violations of religious freedom can expand the rights of religious minorities to practice their faith, only under the condition that there is sufficient support by a “domestic compliance coalition” that can pressure the government to undertake legal and policy reform in this area.

Available here.

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Grassroots Level Awareness about Religion at the European Court of Human Rights

Effie Fokas

in eds. Jeroen Temperman, T. Jeremy Gunn and Malcolm D. Evans, The European Court of Human Rights and the Freedom of Religion or Belief: The 25 Years since Kokkinakis, Brill, 2019, pp. 419-440

This chapter draws on research designed to bring the influence on religious pluralism of the European Court of Human Rights into sharp focus, but from the ground up: we have access to information about the direct effect of the Court in terms of implementation, or not, of its decisions via policy change enacted by national governments, but we have little insight into the indirect effects of the Court, in terms of whether and the extent to which the Court’s case law mobilises grassroots level actors in pursuit of their rights. A study of the indirect effects of case law includes attention to the many ways its decisions are deployed by social actors in their rights campaigns, and in many venues outside of courts.  The broader research from which the present chapter emanates focuses not on the gap between the promise of certain court decisions and actual social change but rather on the gap between such decisions and the change in societal expectations: to what extent do court decisions lead to a shift in social actors’ conceptions of their rights, in their discourse about those rights, and in their propensity to pursue those rights, whether through legal or political means? Answers to this question presuppose a far more basic one: how aware of the Court and its religion-related case law are social actors at the grassroots level? European institutions are notoriously exposed to criticism as non-transparent and distant from the citizen. This is no less the case for the ECtHR. To what extent does knowledge about the Court’s decisions related to religion trickle down to grassroots actors with a vested interest in these decisions, and to what effects?

Available here.

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Presentation at King’s College London seminar on ‘How Minority Religions React to the Law’

1 June 2019

King’s College London

Effie Fokas was invited to present her research on the legal status of religious minorities and the impact of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), as well as to discuss the Grassrootsmobilise project more generally, at the seminar on ‘How Minority Religions React to the Law’ organised by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London on 1 June 2019. She presented alongside a number of scholars, practitioners and representatives of religious minorities to an audience highly engaged in the study of religious minorities.

Further information available here.

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