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PA Wire / Andrew Milligan
PA Wire / Andrew Milligan
Congregation in masks in church covid coronavirus St Andrews Cathedral Glasgow church Credit PA Wire Andrew Milligan.jpg
Andrew Milligan
World News

Ban on church services during pandemic prompts complaint to European Court

by Kelly Valencia

Jan Figel, the former EU Religious Freedom Envoy, has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights over the ban on church services during the pandemic in Slovakia.

Supported by ADF International, Figel believes the measure was a "disproportionate infringement on the right to religious freedom".

According to ADF, the case is one of the first ones where Europe's top human rights court examines the impact of covid restrictions on religious freedom in Europe,

In February 2021, the Slovakian government banned cultural events, sports events, and religious services, except for baptismal services and weddings, which were limited to six attendees.

For Figel, the measure went against both the Slovak constitution and fundamental human rights, and he believes the government should've granted greater flexibility to places of worship.

Figel said: "As Special Envoy, it was evident to me that the EU cannot credibly advance religious freedom throughout the world if its Member States fail to uphold fundamental freedoms at home."

Dr Adina Portaru, a senior adviser at ADF International, said: "Fundamental freedoms apply to everyone, and especially in times of crisis, they must be protected rather than weakened."

She continued: "It is unfair to pit religious freedom against security when both can work harmoniously. Communal worship services are, for many people, an essential part of staying the course in times of crisis. And this can be done safely and carefully, in accordance with necessary and well-considered restrictions," Portaru said.

ADF International carried out advocacy efforts to assist in reopening churches for worship in countries such as Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland.

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