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Dimitrova v. Bulgaria, No. 15452/07, ECtHR (Fourth Section), 10 February 2015

Type Judgment
Case number 15452/07


Restrictions on the freedom of religion. House search and seizure of religious items by police officers. 

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR


The house search in the applicant’s flat – carried out for the sole reason that she was known to be a member of the Word of Life community and had organised religious meetings at her home – and the consequent seizure of numerous religious articles (including audio tapes, notebooks and books with religious content.) constitute a limitation on the freedom to freely manifest religion, which could be considered legitimate only within the limits provided for by art. 9 par. 2 ECHR (case in which the Strasbourg Court found that the police action – based solely on the generic need of taking all the necessary measures to prevent the commission of a crime – was taken in direct response to the applicant’s manifestation of her religious belief and was intended to discourage her from worshipping and observing her religion further in community with others). 


The applicant's story is part of the conflict between the evangelical community of the “Word of life” and the Bulgarian national authorities. Indeed, following a complaint that the organisation had a negative psychological influence on its followers, the prosecuting authorities decided to order the restriction of the right of members to assemble and promote their belief. The police action in discussion in the present case was the implementation of this intervention strategy.