Court: Bulgaria breached human rights law by refusing to register an organisation promoting Muslim rights

Human rights judges say Bulgaria was wrong to refuse to register an association promoting the rights of its Muslim minority.

Strasbourg judges ruled today that this was not “necessary in a democratic society”

In its judgment in the case of National Turkish Union and Kungyun v. Bulgaria (application no. 4776/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The applicants are the association National Turkish Union, and Menderes Mehmet Kungyun, a Bulgarian national who was born in 1950 and lives in Kazanlak. Kungyun, a founder member and chair of the association, complained of the Bulgarian authorities’ refusal to register the association.

Referring back to its case-law, the court found that there was no “pressing social need” to require any association wishing to pursue political aims to constitute a political party if it was not the intention of the founders to take part in elections.

The court further noted that the domestic courts had not referred to any action of the association or its members which might have compromised the territorial integrity or unity of the nation, or any action or speech which might have been regarded as a call to hatred or violence.

It concluded that the refusal to register the applicant association had not been “necessary in a democratic society.”

As just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Bulgaria was to pay the applicants 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

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