giacche invernali peuterey CASE OF MOUVEMENT RA
1. The case originated in an application (no. 16354/06) against the Swiss Confederation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by an association constituted under Swiss law, Mouvement ralien suisse (“the applicant association”), on 10 April 2006.
2. The applicant association was represented by Mr E. Elkaim, a lawyer practising in Lausanne (Switzerland). The Swiss Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr F. Schrmann, of the Federal Office of Justice.
4. The application was allocated to the First Section of the Court (Rule 52 1 of the Rules of Court). On 15 May 2008 the Court decided to give notice of the application to the Government and, under former Article 29 3 of the Convention, to examine the admissibility and merits at the same time.
5. On 13 January 2011 a Chamber of that Section composed of the following judges: Christos Rozakis, Nina Vaji, Khanlar Hajiyev, Dean Spielmann, Sverre Erik Jebens, Giorgio Malinverni and George Nicolaou, and also of Sren Nielsen, Section Registrar, delivered a judgment in which it found, by five votes to two, that there had been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention and that there was no need to examine separately the complaint under Article 9. The dissenting opinion of Judges Rozakis and Vaji was appended to the judgment.
6. On 12 April 2011 the applicant association requested the referral of the case to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 of the Convention and Rule 75. On 20 June 2011 the panel of the Grand Chamber accepted that request.
7. The composition of the Grand Chamber was determined according to the provisions of Article 26 4 and 5 of the Convention and Rule 24.
Mihai Poalelungi’s term of office expired on 30 April 2012. He continued to sit in the case (Article 23 3 of the Convention and Rule 24 4).
8. The applicant association and the Government each filed further written observations (Rule 59 1). In addition, third party comments were received from the non governmental organisation Article 19, which had been given leave by the President to intervene in the written procedure (Article 36 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 3).
9. A hearing took place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 16 November 2011 (Rule 59 3).
There appeared before the Court:
Mr F. SCHRMANN, Head of European law and international human rights section, Federal Office of Justice,
Federal Police and Justice Department, Agent,
Mr A. TENDON, Lawyer, Deputy Head of the Legal Department of the Canton of Neuchtel,
Ms D. STEIGER LEUBA, Technical adviser, European law and international human rights section, Federal Office of Justice, Federal Police and Justice Department, Advisers;
(b) for the applicant association
Mr N. CHABLOZ, head and spokesman of the Mouvementralien suisse, Adviser.
The Court heard addresses by Mr Elkaim and Mr Schrmann, and also their replies to certain questions from judges.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. The applicant association and the Raelian Movement
10. The applicant association, which was set up in 1977, is a non profit association registered in Rennaz (Canton of Vaud). It is the national branch of the Raelian Movement, an organisation based in Geneva and founded in 1976 by Claude Vorilhon, known as “Ral”. According to its constitution, its aim is to make the first contacts and establish good relations with extraterrestrials.
11. According to the information available on the applicant association’s website at the time of the adoption of the present judgment, the Raelian Movement’s doctrine is based on Ral’s alleged contact with the “Elohim”,
extraterrestrials with “advanced technology”, who are said to have created life on earth and a number of world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The Raelian Movement’s followers believe that scientific and technical progress is of fundamental importance and that cloning and the “transfer of conscience” will enable man to become immortal. In that connection the Raelian Movement has expressed opinions in favour of human cloning.
12. Some texts of the Raelian Movement or works written by Ral himself advocate a system of government called “geniocracy”, a doctrine whereby power should be entrusted only to those individuals who have the highest level of intellect.
13. In his book Sensual Meditation Ral defines this concept as an “instruction manual” given to humans by extraterrestrials, enabling each person “to discover his/her body and especially to learn how to use it to enjoy sounds, colors, smells, tastes, caresses, and particularly a sexuality felt with all one’s senses, so as to experience the cosmic orgasm, infinite and absolute, which illuminates the mind by linking the one who reaches it with the universes he/she is composed of and composes”.
14. The poster in question, measuring 97 cm by 69 cm, featured in the upper part the following wording in large yellow characters on a dark blue background: “The Message from Extraterrestrials”; in the lower part of the poster, in characters of the same size but in bolder type, the address of the Raelian Movement’s website, together with a telephone number in France, could be seen; at the very bottom was the phrase “Science at last replaces religion”. The middle of the poster was taken up by pictures of extraterrestrials’ faces and a pyramid, together with a flying saucer and the Earth.
15. It had been indicated in a French parliamentary report on sects, dating from 1995, and in a judgment of the president of the Civil Court for the district of La Sarine (Canton of Fribourg), that the Raelian Movement engaged in activities that were contrary to public order (ordre public) and immoral.
16. In a decision of 19 December 2001 the municipal council of the city of Neuchtel dismissed an appeal from the applicant association, finding that it could not rely on the protection of religious freedom because it was to be regarded as a dangerous sect. The interference with freedom of expression had been based on Article 19 of the Administrative Regulations for the City of Neuchtel (the “Regulations”); its purpose was to protect the public interest and it was proportionate, since the organisation advocated, among other things, human cloning, “geniocracy” and “sensual meditation”.
17. On 27 October 2003 the Neuchtel Land Management Directorate upheld that decision. It noted that, for the Raelian Movement, life on earth had been created by extraterrestrials, who were also the founders of the various religions and were capable of saving the world, and accepted that this amounted to a religious conviction protected by freedom of conscience and belief. It further accepted that the Regulations constituted a sufficient legal basis in such matters. The Directorate observed that there was nothing offensive in the text and picture on the poster, or in the allusion to extraterrestrials. However, it pointed to the fact that the Raelian Movement advocated “geniocracy” (a political model based on intelligence) and human cloning. Moreover, in a judgment of 13 February 1998 the Fribourg Cantonal Court had found that the movement also “theoretically” advocated paedophilia and incest, especially in the works of Ral himself. The practice of “sensual meditation” could also easily lead to abuse. In addition, the website of Clonaid, to which the Raelian Movement’s site contained a link, offered specific services in the area of cloning, and the notion of eugenics was contrary to the principle of non discrimination. The poster campaign was prejudicial to morals and to the rights of others. In any event, the Raelian Movement had other means by which to disseminate its ideas.