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Alexandridis v. Greece, No. 19516/06, ECtHR (First Section), 21 February 2008


Lawyer’s professional oath with religious formula. Violation of Article 9 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR


1. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion represents one of the foundations of a “democratic society” within the meaning of the Convention. This freedom appears, in its religious dimension, among the most essential elements of the identity of those who believe and of their conception of life, but it is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, skeptics or the indifferent.

2. The freedom of religion expressed by Article 9 of the Convention is protected also in its negative dimension, so that it also includes the right not to adhere to a religion and the right not to practice it.
(The case concerns the discipline of the lawyer’s professional oath - required of lawyers in Greece, before taking up service -, the formula of which contained references to the Orthodox Christian religion. The Court finds a violation of Article 9 of the Convention, given that, despite being allowed to take the oath with an alternative formula, the applicant was forced to reveal his religious beliefs)