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About Case Law

Case Law

European Court of Human Rights
27/03/2008
Legal provision International law, Directive 2000/43/EC
Area Citizenship
Form of Discrimination Direct discrimination
Grounds of discrimination Discrimination on ground of racial or ethnic origin
Topic Discrimination by public bodies, Minorities
Discrimination on ground of racial or ethnic origin , Right to justice , Freedom of association , Greece .
Key facts of the case:


Both cases concern complaints by the applicants about decisions taken by the Greek courts against associations founded by persons belonging to the Muslim minority of Western Thrace. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece violated the freedom of association of the country’s Turkish minority, by dissolving the “Turkish Association of Xanthi” established in 1927, after a 21-year procedure (1983-2005), and by refusing the registration of the “Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi” after a four-year procedure (2001-2005).

Main reasoning/argumentation:

The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights in both cases, which concern associations founded by persons belonging to the Muslim minority of Western Thrace (Greece).
In the case of Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others the Court also held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time) of the Convention.

Key issues (concepts, interpretations) clarified by the case:

In both cases, Greek courts found objectionable the use of the word “Turkish” in the title of the associations to denote the ethnic identity of a minority. The court ‘considered that freedom of association involved the right of everyone to express, in a lawful context, their beliefs about their ethnic identity. However shocking and unacceptable certain views or words used might appear to the authorities, their dissemination should not automatically be regarded as a threat to public policy or to the territorial integrity of a country’ or ‘to constitute a threat to democratic society’. ‘The Court noted further that the Greek courts would have had the power to dissolve the association if in practice it pursued aims that were different from those stated in its statute or if it operated in a manner contrary to the law.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences or implications of the case:

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court held that the finding of a violation constituted in itself just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the applicants in the case of E. et al. In the case of Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others the Court awarded the association Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis 8,000 Euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

Despite the relevant European Court of Human Rights 2008 decision which had convicted Greece for violation of the Article 11 of the European Human Rights Convention, the Xanthi Civil Court of First Instance rejected the case of the Xanthi Turkish Union regarding the restoration demand of pre-1983 legal status.


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