Informujemy, że Państwa dane osobowe są przetwarzane przez Fundację Instytut na Rzecz Kultury Prawnej Ordo Iuris z siedzibą w Warszawie przy ul. Górnośląskiej 20/6, kod pocztowy 00-484 (administrator danych) w celu informowania o realizacji działań statutowych, w tym do informowania o organizowanych akcjach społecznych. Podanie danych jest dobrowolne. Informujemy, że przysługuje Państwu prawo dostępu do treści swoich danych i możliwości ich poprawiania.
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Protection of life, freedom of religion and national symbols - Ordo Iuris intervenes before the Strasbourg Court

Published: 30.03.2023

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- The Ordo Iuris Institute constantly monitors the activities of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

- Lawyers intervene as a "friend of the court" in cases that are important in terms of the right to life from conception to natural death, protection of the family, religious freedom or freedom of expression.

- So far, the Institute has successfully intervened in cases including the protection of the rights of parents violated by Norway's Barnevernet, the conviction of a Danish doctor who assisted patients in suicide, and a Moldovan hospital where women were forced to have abortions.

- In total, since 2017. The institute has participated in 112 proceedings.

- There are still 11 cases pending in which Ordo Iuris is awaiting admission to proceedings.

- These include complaints about the ban on eugenic abortion in Poland, converts from Islam to Christianity facing deportation, or the organizer of a pro-abortion demonstration convicted of allowing the insult of the symbol of Fighting Poland.

In the vast majority of cases in which the Institute intended to participate, it was allowed to proceed. Ordo Iuris lawyers have so far intervened in 135 cases. In 112 proceedings, the Institute has been admitted by the Court, and in 11 cases it is still awaiting the ECHR's decision on admission. Of the 112 cases in which the Institute has successfully intervened and submitted its legal opinion, 37 cases have already been resolved, and 75 are awaiting the Court's ruling.

One of the already settled cases concerns a judgment affirming the right of a German pro-life activist to call abortion a murder committed by doctors. In the opinion, the Institute recalled that freedom of speech also includes the right to proclaim shocking, controversial and even offensive views. The fact that doctors who perform abortions may feel offended by this in no way justifies banning pro-life activists from using such terms. (Annen v. Germany);

The Strasbourg Court has also issued a series of judgments affirming violations of parental rights by Norway's Barnevernet office. In its opinion, the Institute pointed out the systemic nature of the problem in Norway, which, instead of helping parents in difficult situations, takes children away from them, transferring them to foster families and taking away the parents' chance to improve (e.g., A.L. et al. v. Norway, M.L. v. Norway).

Another example is a judgment finding a violation of Moldova's prohibition of torture, degrading and inhuman treatment. One hospital there performed forced abortions on three women, despite their explicit opposition, taking advantage of their intellectual disabilities. The institute stressed in its opinion that there is an indisputable and worldwide consensus that forced abortion can never be justified (G.M. et al. v. Moldova).

The Court also decided a case in which it dismissed the complaint of a Danish doctor who was sentenced to a suspended prison term for encouraging patients to commit suicide. One of his victims was an 85-year-old old woman who did not suffer from any serious illness, but was tired of life. Svend Lings advised her on what pharmaceuticals she should take, and recommended that "for 100% certainty" she put a plastic bag over her head, tightening it around her neck with a rubber band with a prescription cord.  A few weeks later, the old woman was found dead in her apartment with the plastic bag on her head.  In the opinion, the Institute reiterated that freedom of speech does not entitle one to encourage and support others to take their own lives (Lings v. Denmark).

There are still 11 cases pending in which the Institute has applied to the Court for admission to proceedings. Five of them concern complaints against Poland's ban on eugenic abortion, resulting from the Constitutional Court's October 22, 2020 ruling (K 1/20). The ruling declares incompatible with the right to life a provision allowing the killing of an unborn child due to developmental defects such as Down syndrome (I.Z. v. Poland, A.K. v. Poland, B.H. v. Poland, B.W. v. Poland, J.S. v. Poland). The Ordo Iuris Institute intends to present arguments to the Court indicating that the European Convention on Human Rights does not guarantee anyone the right to abortion, instead it guarantees everyone the right to life.

Also still pending are two cases initiated as a result of complaints by Christians from other countries about bans on public religious services instituted by many governments during the COVID-19 epidemic. The complainants accuse the authorities of violating religious freedom (Figel v. Slovakia, Megard v. France). The Ordo Iuris Institute plans to present documentation of the results of international scientific studies confirming the ineffectiveness of bans on meetings and gatherings to counter the epidemic.

Another two cases concern converts from Islam to Christianity who fled Iran for Europe and are now facing deportation, with imminent danger to their lives (B.S. v. Turkey, H. R. v. Belgium). The Institute is ready to present to the Court the situation of Christians in Iran whose lives, freedom and dignity are threatened by Islamic fundamentalists.

Another case relates to a same-sex couple who wanted to settle in Romania after being "married" in an EU country. Only one of the men was a Romanian citizen, while his common-law partner wanted to exercise his right to settle together with his "spouse" under EU law. Romanian authorities refused, pointing out that, under domestic law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. However, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that EU law requires a homosexual cohabitant to be treated as a spouse. The men have filed a motion to reopen the proceedings in their case, which was rejected by the court because it was filed out of time. They complain of violations of their right to a court, their right to privacy, their right to marriage and the prohibition of discrimination (A.B. and K.V. v. Romania). The Institute intends to reiterate that the ECHR has no jurisdiction to assess the state's implementation of the CJEU judgment.

The latest case concerns the organizer of the so-called Black March in 2016 in Kielce. During the demonstration, some participants carried banners with an altered anchor of the Fighting Poland, to which images of women's breasts were attached. The organizer was sentenced by the court to a PLN 2,000 fine for failing to ensure that the demonstration was conducted in accordance with the law (Article 52 para. 3 of the Code of Offenses), which prohibited insulting national symbols such as precisely the Fighting Poland sign. The woman appealed, seeking acquittal, but the second instance court only reduced the fine from 2,000 to 500 zlotys. The activist alleges that her freedom of speech and freedom of assembly were violated (Bunzel v. Poland). Ordo Iuris plans to present an argument in this case reminding of the limits of freedom of speech, arising from the need for the state to protect venerable national symbols.


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