Information Note on the Court’s case-law 185
Union of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Georgia and Others v. Georgia (dec.) - 72874/01
Decision 21.4.2015 [Section IV] See:  ECHR 527
Striking out applications
State’s unilateral declaration recognising violation of applicants’ rights and awarding compensation: struck out
Facts - The applicants were two religious groups and six individuals. In 2002 the two applicant groups’ enrolment in the national register of associations was annulled as they could not be classified as a private-law entity under the applicable law then in force. That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. The domestic law was subsequently amended so as to allow religious groups to register as legal entities of public law. While the second applicant group was re-registered as an association in 2003, the first applicant did not apply for re-registration.
In 2014, in the course of the proceedings before the European Court, the Government submitted a unilateral declaration, recognising the violation of Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention in respect of the first two applicant religious groups and proposing to pay them EUR 1,500 each in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage. The applicants refused the proposal as they considered the award offered inadequate.
Law - Article 37 § 1 (c): In previous cases concerning the registration of religious organisations, the Court had found that either by denying registration to various religious groups or by annulling their registration, the authorities had interfered with the applicant organisations’ right to freedom of religion and association, in violation of Article 11 of the Convention read in light of Article 9. In view of that finding, the Court had not considered it necessary to examine the same facts from the standpoint of Article 14 and found Article 10 complaints to be redundant.
In the present case the Government had explicitly accepted that the annulment of the applicant organisations’ registration was in breach of Articles 9 and 11 and the respondent State had amended its law to fill in the legislative gap concerning the legal status of religious groups. Moreover, having regard to the Court’s relevant case-law, the applicants’ complaints under Articles 10 and 14 of the Convention did not merit a separate examination. Therefore, in view of the nature of the admissions contained in the Government’s declaration, as well as the amount of compensation proposed, it was no longer justified to continue the examination of the application. Furthermore, given the clear and extensive case-law on the topic, respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto did not require the Court to continue the examination of the application.
As to the applicants’ objection that the unilateral declaration had been submitted outside the friendly settlement procedure, there were exceptional circumstances justifying the Court, according to Rule 62A § 2 of the Rules of Court, to consider the unilateral declaration in the absence of prior friendly settlement negotiations.
Conclusion: struck out (unanimously).
(See also Tahsin Acar v. Turkey [GC], 26307/95, 8 April 2004; WAZA Spółka z o.o. v. Poland (dec.), 11602/02, 26 June 2007; Sulwińska v. Poland (dec.), 28953/03, 18 September 2007; see also the Factsheet on Freedom of religion)
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This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
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