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Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim Ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfı v. Turkey, No. 32093/10, ECtHR (Second Section), 2 December 2014

Type Judgment
Case number 32093/10


Refusal of the exemption from paying the electricity bill in a worship facility. Violation of Article 14 ECHR, taken together with Article 9.


Normative references

Art. 14 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1. Article 14 of the ECHR only supplements the other substantive clauses of the Convention and its Protocols. It has no independent existence, since it is valid only for "the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms" they guarantee. The application of Article 14 of the Convention does not necessarily presuppose the violation of any of the substantive rights guaranteed by the Convention. It is necessary, but not sufficient, that the facts of the case fall under at least one of the articles of the Convention.

2. Issues relating to the management of worship facilities, including costs incurred as a result of the tax status of such buildings, are, in certain circumstances, likely to have a significant impact on the exercise of the right of members of religious groups to manifest their religious beliefs.

3. Only differences of treatment based on an identifiable characteristic (“status”) are capable of being discriminatory for the purposes of Article 14. "Religion" is expressly mentioned in Article 14 among the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

4. In principle, for a problem to arise under Article 14 of the ECHR, there must be a difference in the treatment of persons placed in similar or comparable situations. The notion of discrimination, within the meaning of Article 14, also encompasses cases in which an individual or group sees itself, without adequate justification, treated less well than another, even if the Convention does not require more favorable treatment.

5. Freedom of religion in no way implies that religious groups or adherents of a religion must be granted a specific legal treatment or a tax status different from that of other existing entities.

6. The contracting States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation in determining whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment. As regards the burden of proof in this matter, when an applicant has established the existence of a difference in treatment, it is for the Government to demonstrate that it was justified.

7. The obligation under Article 9 of the Convention requires State authorities to remain neutral in the exercise of their powers. The State's duty of neutrality and impartiality, as defined in the case-law of the Court, is incompatible with any power of appreciation by the State of the legitimacy of religious beliefs. In this regard, if a State establishes a privileged status for places of worship, all religious groups wishing to do so must be given a fair opportunity to apply for the benefit and the established criteria must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
(The refusal of an Alevi religious foundation's request to be exempted from paying for electricity bills in a place of worship, as provided for by Turkish law, constitutes a breach of article 14 of the ECHR, taken together with article 9. According to the Court, the reasoning of the refusal, based on the consideration that the building in question does not constitute a place of worship and that the Alevi is not a religious confession, is not suitable to justify the refusal of the benefit, since the premises in question were also used for the celebration of religious rituals. The different of treatment is not based on an objective and reasonable justification)