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State Neutrality and Legal Status of Religious Groups in the European Court of Human Rights Case-law

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From the premise of religious freedom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case-law has established a State duty of neutrality concerning religious matters. However, the concept of neutrality is not univocal, and the ECtHR uses various different forms of it. States have a duty to allow religious groups access to legal personality, but they are not obliged to grant every religious group the same kind of legal personality. A double or multi-level system of recognition is legitimate under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if some conditions are fulfilled. The ECtHR has also affirmed that the most radical kind of double or multi-level system, that of an established church, is not contrary to the Convention. In a recent case, however, the ECtHR seems to have adopted a stricter approach to the legitimacy of privileges granted to some church/churches above other ones.

Affiliations: 1: CONICET (Argentine Research Council); University of Buenos Aires Buenos AiresArgentina

* This article has been prepared in the framework of the LabexMed project (CERIC/DICE-UMR 7318) under the ‘Fernand Braudel / Marie Curie’ programme (FMSH). I would like to thank Loreto Sainz de Murieta for the revision of the final version of the text.
10.1163/18710328-12341305
/content/journals/10.1163/18710328-12341305
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/content/journals/10.1163/18710328-12341305
2016-11-10
2018-06-24

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