16 C
Saturday, May 18, 2024
ECHRECtHR: Belgium condemned for discriminating against Jehovah's Witnesses

ECtHR: Belgium condemned for discriminating against Jehovah’s Witnesses

DISCLAIMER: Information and opinions reproduced in the articles are the ones of those stating them and it is their own responsibility. Publication in The European Times does not automatically means endorsement of the view, but the right to express it.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATIONS: All articles in this site are published in English. The translated versions are done through an automated process known as neural translations. If in doubt, always refer to the original article. Thank you for understanding.

Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil - at The European Times News - Mostly in the back lines. Reporting on corporate, social and governmental ethics issues in Europe and internationally, with emphasis on fundamental rights. Also giving voice to those not being listened to by the general media.

Belgium was condemned for discriminating against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Failure to grant congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses exemption from property tax in the Brussels-Capital Region since 2018 was discriminatory

ECHR 122 (2022) 05.04.2022

In today’s Chamber judgment1, in the case of Assemblée Chrétienne Des Témoins de Jéhovah d’Anderlecht and Others v. Belgium (application no. 20165/20) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights and with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the Convention.

The case concerned congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses which complained of being denied exemption from payment of a property tax (précompte immobilier) in respect of properties in the Brussels-Capital Region used by them for religious worship. According to an order of 23 November 2017 enacted by the legislature of the Brussels-Capital Region, as of the 2018 fiscal year the exemption applied only to “recognised religions”, a category that did not include the applicant congregations.

The Court held that since the tax exemption in question was contingent on prior recognition, governed by rules that did not afford sufficient safeguards against discrimination, the difference in treatment to which the applicant congregations had been subjected had no reasonable and objective justification. It noted, among other points, that recognition was only possible on the initiative of the Minister of Justice and depended thereafter on the purely discretionary decision of the legislature. A system of this kind entailed an inherent risk of arbitrariness, and religious communities could not reasonably be expected, in order to claim entitlement to the tax exemption in issue, to submit to a process that was not based on minimum guarantees of fairness and did not guarantee an objective assessment of their claims.

- Advertisement -

More from the author

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -spot_img
- Advertisement -

Must read

Latest articles

- Advertisement -