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Objectives and Activities

Larmela v Finland (decision), 28 May 1997 [ECtHR]

Case no 26712/95

With regard to the legitimacy of the interference the Commission considers that the aim pursued by the authorities was the protection of health and morals which is one of the legitimate aims set out in Article 11 para. 2 (Art. 11-2).

With regard to the necessity of the measure, the Commission recalls that this implies "a pressing social need" in which area States have a margin of appreciation (cf. Eur. Court HR, Handyside v. United Kingdom judgment of 7 December 1976, Series A no. 24, p. 22, para. 48).

The aims of the association included influencing intoxicant policy and legislation with a view to making the use, availability and domestic cultivation of cannabis legal. According to the Supreme Administrative Court the association's aim to change the law could not as such be regarded as incompatible with public decency and morals.

Nevertheless, the Court considered that the aim of the association was to encourage a habit detrimental to health and not yet common in Finland and that the use of cannabis was a criminal offence there. The Court also took account of a report of a Committee of the Parliament to the effect that society should show its disapproval of the use of drugs.

In these circumstances, the Court's conclusion that the aim of the association was in violation of public decency and morals within the meaning of the Associations Act cannot be regarded as unreasonable. Furthermore, the refusal of registration cannot be considered disproportionate to the aim pursued, since the applicant has not shown that it prevented any essential activity of the association. Therefore, the Commission considers that the refusal to register the association can be regarded as a necessary measure in a democratic society, having regard to the margin of appreciation States enjoy.

It follows that, in so far as there was an interference with the applicant's right to freedom of association, the interference was justified under Article 11 para 2 (Art. 11-2) of the Convention (cf. also No. 14223/88, Dec. 5.6.91, D.R. 70, p. 218).

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