Freedom of religion: landmark judgment

Manoussakis and others v. Greece (26 September 1996)

The applicants, all Jehovah’s Witnesses, had been convicted of establishing and operating a place of worship without the prior authorisation of the Minister for Education and Religious Affairs.

In acknowledging a violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) in this case, the Court held in particular that the right to freedom of religion as construed by the Convention excluded any discretion on the part of the State to determine the legitimacy of beliefs or the means used to express them.

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