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PDF - Compilation of Council of Europe standards relating to the principles of freedom of thought, conscience and religion and links to other human rights (2016)

Human Rights and Democracy
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The European Court of Human Rights has described freedom of thought, conscience and religion, set out in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as one of the foundations of a democratic society. It is of fundamental value not only for believers, but also for atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned. The pluralism, which characterises a democratic society, depends on it.

This compilation is the first publication to provide a comprehensive overview of the existing Council of Europe standards relating to the principles of freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the links to other rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights interpreting these rights. The legal standards set by the Convention are supplemented by those of other relevant treaties. There are also recommendations and guidelines adopted by other bodies, which although not legally binding, nevertheless are considered to form part of the Council of Europe compendium of standards.

These standards are presented in a non-hierarchical manner and under a number of themes, so as to stress the complementary role of the various Council of Europe bodies. The compilation is complemented by a compendium of national good practices published on the website www.coe.int/cddh. A selection of good practices from member states is appended to the compilation.

Table of contents

Preface
1. Introduction
     i. The present compilation in the broader context of the Council of Europe values and work
     ii. Short presentation of the various relevant Council of Europe bodies and their mandate
2. General principles and definitions
     i. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as a pillar of democratic society
     ii. Internal and external aspects of freedom of thought, conscience and religion
     iii. Limitations
     iv. Positive obligations
     v. Need for balancing between rights
     vi. Margin of appreciation (bearing in mind the diversity of approaches taken by national authorities in this area)
     vii. Duty of neutrality and impartiality of the State
     viii. Non-discrimination on grounds of thought, conscience and religion
3. Thematic issues
A. Individual right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
     i. Freedom to manifest one’s thought, conscience and religion
     ii. Wearing of religious symbols and clothing (dress codes)
     iii. Manifestation of religion and belief in various settings
     iv. Rights of persons deprived of their liberty
     v. Conscientious objection to military service
     vi. Situations in which individuals are obliged to disclose or act against their religion or beliefs
     vii. Medical treatment issues
     viii. Proselytism
     ix. Right to education of children in conformity with the parents’ religious and philosophical convictions
     x. Specific questions in relation to children’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
B. State relations with religious communities
     i. Autonomy and rights of religious communities
     ii. Registration and recognition
     iii. Assessment of religious movements (sects)
     iv. Property (including issues related to places of worship, cemeteries etc.)
     v. Financing and taxation
C. Protection of individuals on account of their thought, conscience and religion
     i. Issues in relation to Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
     ii. Protection of persons belonging to minority religious groups
     iii. Hate speech and hate crime on grounds of thought, conscience and religion
     iv. Matters relating to international protection on grounds of thought, conscience and religion
Appendix – Selection of relevant good practices from member States
Index of cases

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PDF - Compilation of Council of Europe standards relating to the principles of freedom of thought, conscience and religion and links to other human rights