Security and Duty of Protection

Scientology Kirche Deutschland e V v Germany (decision), 7 April 1997 [ECtHR]

Case no 34614/97

1. The applicant association alleges that itself and its members as a group are the victims of an administrative practice of violations of Articles 8, 9, 10, 11 and 17 (Art. 8, 9, 10, 11, 17) of the Convention and of Articles 2 and 3 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-2, P1-3), separately and in conjunction with Articles 13 and 14 (P1-2+P1-3+13+14) of the Convention.

The Commission has first examined to what extent the conditions laid down in Article 25 para. 1 (Art. 25-1) of the Convention have been met in the present case.

Article 25 para. 1 (Art. 25-1) of the Convention provides:

     "The Commission may receive petitions addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe from any person, non- governmental organisation or group of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in this Convention, provided that the High Contracting Party against which the complaint has been lodged has declared that it recognises the competence of the Commission to receive such petitions. (...)"

The Commission recalls that, in order for applicants to be able to avail themselves of this provision, they must fulfil two conditions: they must fall into one of the categories of applicants referred to in Article 25 (Art. 25) and they must have a claim to be a victim of a violation of the Convention.

As regards the first condition, the Commission notes that the applicant association is an association of individuals as defined by German domestic law. As such it clearly falls into one of the categories of applicants mentioned in Article 25 (Art. 25) of the Convention, namely that of a non-governmental organisation.

 As for the second condition, the Commission recalls that the concept of "victim" as used in Article 25 (Art. 25) of the Convention must be interpreted autonomously and independently of concepts of domestic law such as capacity to bring or to take part in legal proceedings.

An applicant cannot claim to be the victim of a breach of the rights or freedoms protected by the Convention unless there is a sufficiently direct connection between the applicant as such and the injury he maintains he suffered as a result of the alleged breach. In particular, according to the established case-law of the Commission, a corporate applicant cannot claim to be itself a victim of measures alleged to have interfered with the Convention rights of its individual members (cf. No. 9939/82, Dec. 4.7.83, D.R. 34 p. 213; No. 10733/84, Dec. 11.3.85, D.R. 41 p. 211; No. 18598/91, Dec. 18.5.94, D.R. 78 pp.71, 72; No. 24581/94, Dec. 6.4.95, D.R. 81 pp. 123, 126).

In the present case it is clearly not the applicant association as such  which is the victim of the alleged violations of the rights guaranteed by Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention (respect for private life) and of Articles 2 and 3 of Protocol No. 1 (P1-2, P1-3) (parents' right to educate their children in conformity with their religious and philosophical convictions and right to free elections). Solely the members of the applicant association, as individuals, could claim to be victims of a violation of these rights, which by their nature are not susceptible of being exercised by an association.

The Commission notes that the applicant association claims also to represent its members as alleged victims of a violation of these and a number of other rights enshrined in the Convention. However, the applicant association has not identified these individuals and in any event has not shown that it has received specific instructions from each of them (cf No. 10983/84, Dec. 12.5.86, D.R.47 p. 225).

It follows that insofar as the application alleges violations of the rights of the applicant association's individual members, it is incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention, within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

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