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01/16/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  Turkey has violated the right of freedom of association by refusing to recognize a religious group, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

In 2004, Turkish Christians were prevented from registering their religious organization, the Seventh Day Adventists Foundation, in Istanbul. The authorities alleged that the civil code prohibits foundations to only support members of a particular community. Due to heavy restrictions on building and recognizing churches, many Turkish Christians have resorted to registering their church as a foundation.

The court case was brought before the ECtHR in 2011 and the case reached its conclusion on January 15, 2019. The case was able to pend before the ECtHR because Turkey has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights as part of its bid to join the European Union. The ECtHR ruled that by denying church recognition, Turkey was violating the right of Christians to freely associate. The court also ruled that Turkey must pay 9,000 Euros as a compensation for violating this right.

It is now left to Turkey to implement this court ruling.

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