Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Hamidovic v. Bosnia Herzegovina, No. 57792/15, ECtHR (Fourth Section), 5 December 2017


Use of religious symbols (Islamic skullcap) while giving evidence before a criminal court. Criminal proceedings concerning a terrorist attack. Violation of art. 9 ECHR. 

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR


1. Differently from public officials, who can be put under a duty of discretion, neutrality and impartiality, private citizens are not automatically barred from wearing religious symbols (as an Islamic skullcap) during criminal trials. 

2. There is no evidence that the applicant's refusal to remove his skullcap depended on grounds other than his sincere religious belief. Therefore, punishing him for "contempt of the court" is not necessary in a democratic society. In doing so, Bosnian authorities have exceeded the (anyway wide) margin of appreciation that states are allowed in deciding whether and to what extent limiting the right to manifest one’s religion is necessary.