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European court to determine whether Covid church closures breached religious freedoms

by Marcus Jones

A former special envoy to the European Union is challenging the ban on public worship in Slovakia during the Covid pandemic.

Jan Figel, says the blanket ban in 2021 was disproportionate and breached religious freedoms.

With the support of legal advocacy group ADF International, the politician is taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“Religious freedom as a basic human right deserves the highest level of protection. Prohibiting people from worship and communal religious exercise is profoundly illiberal and illegitimate," Figel said.

"Worship bans were unfair and disproportionate. Our arguments submitted to the Court demonstrate clearly that blanket bans are violations of religious freedom under international human rights law.

The Slovakian government says there was no breach to freedoms as individual worship was still possible along with online worship.

Numerous legal claims have been made across the world, most notably in Scotland where Catholic priest Canon Tom White won his case at the Court of Session with Lord Braid stating the government regulations went further than the law permitted.

Figel's case will be the first time Europe's top court has heard arguments on the issue. It's hoped the case will set a precedent for the future.

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