EGMR: Altınkaynak and Others v. Turkey (no. 12541/06)

The six applicants, Erkin Altınkaynak (born in 1963, died in 2016), Meral Altınkaynak (born in 1965), Sibel Sahlimov (born in 1978), Hüsnü Bostan (born in 1978), Volkan Ataalp (born in 1969) and Sahire Melek Jones (born in 1958), are Turkish nationals who in September 2004 set up a foundation – Türkiye Yedincigün Adventistleri Vakfı (the Foundation of Turkish Seventh-day Adventists) – for the purpose of meeting the religious needs of Turkish and foreign Seventh-day Adventists living permanently or temporarily in Turkey. The case concerned the Turkish courts’ refusal to include the foundation in question in the official register on the grounds that domestic law did not allow foundations to serve the sole interests of members of a specific community.

In October 2004 the applicants requested that the court of first instance enter their foundation in the official register, relying, in particular, on the relevant provisions of UN statutes, the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention, the Constitution and national legislation, as well as the principle of secularism. The court dismissed that request on the grounds that the foundation’s aim was to meet the religious needs of persons accepting the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, which was incompatible with the provisions of Article 101 § 4 of the Civil Code prohibiting the setting up of foundations designed to support the members of a specific community. The Court of Cassation upheld that judgment.

Relying on Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), Article 17 (prohibition of abuse of rights) and Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights), the applicants complained about the Turkish courts’ refusal to enter their foundation in the official register.

The Court decided to examine the applicants’ complaints under Article 11 of the Convention: violation of Article 11.

Just satisfaction

€ 2,724 (pecuniary damage), € 3,000 (non-pecuniary damage), and € 3,000 (costs and expenses) to the applicants jointly.

Press release ECHR 012 (2019) 15.01.2019

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