Brussels, June 28 (MTI) – The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that the Hungarian state is to pay compensation to small Hungarian religious communities in connection with damage suffered as a result of the church act, which entered force in January 2012.
The ECtHR said in a statement that prior to the adoption of the Church Act, the religious communities had been registered as churches in Hungary and received state funding. Under the new law, which aimed to address problems relating to the exploitation of state funds by certain churches, only a number of recognised churches continued to receive funding.
The statement added that following a decision of Hungary’s Constitutional Court which found certain provisions of the new church act to be unconstitutional, new legislation was adopted in 2013. Under this, religious communities such as the applicants could again refer to themselves as churches but the law required them to apply to parliament to be registered as incorporated churches if they wished to regain access state funding.
The applicants cited Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and association) and Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and complained to ECtHR of their deregistration under the new law and of the discretionary reregistration of churches, the statement said.
In a principal judgment of 8 April 2014 the ECtHR found a violation of Article 11 and Article 9.
Under Tuesday’s judgment assessing the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, Hungary is to pay in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage a total 540,000 euros to seven churches.
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