Case no 40269/02
36. Furthermore, the system of State registration of associations is performed by bodies of different levels of authority. While the local departments of justice are responsible for the registration of associations the activities of which are limited to a particular locality, the higher authorities within the Ministry of Justice are competent to register an association the activities of which cover more than one administrative territorial unit.
37. Thus, the Kyiv City Department of Justice could not register an association the status of which was unclear or if the articles of association were not drafted in compliance with the law.
45. ... the applicants only partially accepted the changes suggested by the latter. In particular, they insisted that, contrary to the position of the authorities, the following provisions of the articles of association should have remained in their text:
(a) that the Civic Committee with local status could have representative offices or representatives in other cities and towns of Ukraine;
The courts of three instances came to the conclusion that the above provisions of the Civic Committee’s articles were contrary to the law and, thus, the refusal to register it was well-founded.
53. As regards the territorial limitation of the activities of associations with local status, the Court notes that, even if this restriction can be said to be aimed at maintaining the well-functioning of the system of State registration of associations, it does not discern any threat to that system in that local associations could have their branch offices in other cities and towns of Ukraine, especially given the burdensome requirement for associations wishing to have pan-Ukrainian status to set up local branches in the majority of the twenty-five regions of Ukraine.
54. On the whole, the Court notes that the materials contained in the case file, including the parties’ submissions, show that the Civic Committee intended to pursue peaceful and purely democratic aims and tasks. There is no indication, and it has not been suggested by the domestic courts or the Government, that the association would have used violent or undemocratic means to achieve its aims. Nevertheless, the authorities used a radical, in its impact on the applicants, measure which went so far as to prevent the applicants’ association from even commencing its main activities.
55. In these circumstances, the Court considers that the restrictions applied in the present case did not pursue a “pressing social need” and, accordingly, the reasons invoked by the authorities to refuse the registration of the Association were not relevant and sufficient. That being so, the interference cannot be deemed necessary in a democratic society.back