EGMR: Case referred to the Grand Chamber concerning refusal to register an Orthodox clergy trade union in Romania

The following case has been referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights: Sindicatul Păstorul Cel Bun v. Romania (no. 2330/09), which concerns a union set up by members of the clergy and lay members of the Orthodox Church, and the refusal to register it as a trade union. 

At its last meeting (9 July 2012), the Grand Chamber panel of five judges decided to refer the case Sindicatul Păstorul Cel Bun v. Romania (no. 2330/09).

The applicant union, Păstorul cel Bun, was established on 4 April 2008 by 35 clerics and lay members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the majority of them Orthodox priests in parishes of the Metropolis of Oltenia (a region in south-western Romania). The aim of the union, as set forth in its statutes, is to defend the professional, economic, social and cultural interests of its members, both clerics and lay members, in their dealings with the Church hierarchy and the Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs. The union made an application to the District Court to be granted legal personality and to be entered in the official register of trade unions. The representative of the Archdiocese objected to the application, arguing that the internal regulations of the Orthodox Church prohibited the creation of any kind of association without the prior consent of the Archbishop. The public prosecutor supported the application, arguing that the establishment of the union was compatible with the law. The County Court rejected Păstorul cel Bun’s application. Relying on Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the union submits that this refusal infringed its trade union rights.

In its judgment of 31 January 2012, the Court held, by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention.

The case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the Romanian Government’s request.

Press release ECHR 305 (2012) 19/07/2012

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