Capacities to be Enjoyed by Non-Governmental Organizations

Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and Others v Moldova, 13 December 2001 [ECtHR]

Case no 45701/99

105.  The Court notes that, according to the Religious Denominations Act, only religions recognised by government decision may be practised. 

In the present case the Court observes that, not being recognised, the applicant Church cannot operate. In particular, its priests may not conduct divine service, its members may not meet to practise their religion and, not having legal personality, it is not entitled to judicial protection of its assets.

The Court therefore considers that the government’s refusal to recognise the applicant Church, upheld by the Supreme Court of Justice’s decision of 9 December 1997, constituted interference with the right of the applicant Church and the other applicants to freedom of religion, as guaranteed by Article 9 § 1 of the Convention.

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