Jehovah’s Witnesses of Kryvyi Rih’s Ternivsky District v. Ukraine
ECHR Application no. 21477/10 – Full judgment: https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#
Registrar of the Court (03.09.2019) – The applicant community is the Religious Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Kryvyi Rih, Ternivsky District, Dnipropetrovsk Region.
Once a judgment becomes final, it is transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for supervision of its execution. Further information about the execution process can be found here: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution. The case concerned the community’s complaint that it had not been able to construct a building for worship on land it had purchased owing to the domestic authorities’ inactivity.
In 2004 the applicant community purchased a residential building in Kryvyi Rih in order subsequently to erect a place of worship, a “Kingdom Hall”, on the site. In February 2005 the city’s Architecture and Planning Council approved the placement of the Kingdom Hall on the land and seven months later the city’s planning authority submitted a draft decision to approve a land allocation project and to grant the applicant community a lease, but this plan was not adopted at subsequent City Council meetings.
In February 2007 the applicant community initiated a first set of proceedings against the City Council, seeking to have its lack of activity declared unlawful. In June 2007 the Regional Court allowed the claim, but in August 2007 a draft decision on the applicant community’s project failed to get enough votes to be adopted by the City Council.
In January 2008 the community lodged a second claim against the City Council for a declaration that it had the right to lease the plot of land and for the City Council to be ordered to enter into a lease agreement. In December 2008 the Regional Court rejected the claim, holding in particular that land allocation decisions fell within the exclusive competence of councils and that the courts could not replace the City Council and take the decision in its place. All further appeals by the religious community were rejected.
Relying in particular on Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) and Article 1 (protection of property) of Protocol No. 1, the applicant community alleged that the City Council’s failure to allow it to establish a place of worship had breached its rights.
Violation of Article 9 Violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1
The European Court
- Declares, unanimously, the application admissible;
- Holds, by six votes to one,that there has been a violation of Article 9 of the Convention;
- Holds, unanimously,that there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;
- Holds, unanimously,that the complaints under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention raise no separate issue;
- Holds, unanimously,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant community, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 1,000 (one thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant community, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
- Dismisses, unanimously,the remainder of the applicant community’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 3 September 2019, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.