This project on belief in justice and freedom of religon explores the freedom of religion case-law of the European Court of Human Rights through a procedural justice lens.
Promoter: prof. dr. Eva Brems
Researcher: Saïla Ouald Chaib
Sponsored by ERC (2009-2014)
The religious landscape in Western Europe is becoming increasingly diverse. Meanwhile, secularism gains more and more importance and anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise. In this context, debates on the right to freedom of religion are never far away. These debates sometimes tend to be animated, polarizing and ill-informed. As the supranational human rights body in Europe, the European Court of Human Rights is inevitably confronted with these societal debates; the most recent example being the question of the French face veil ban. In diverse societies with differing views and interests, conflicts are generally unavoidable, including conflicts related to religion. The question is however how to approach such conflicts in such a way as to preserve social cohesion and inclusion for all. This research looks at the role of the European Court of Human Rights in this respect.
Although the first focus of courts should be the substantive application of human rights protection, this research focuses on the procedural aspect of it, examining how the Court deals with applicants, their religious claims and their right to freedom of religion. In fact, social psychology research shows that people do not only care about outcome fairness, but also about procedural fairness. People value being treated in a neutral, respectful and caring way and want to have their perspective represented in their case. In this research an in-depth analysis of the freedom of religion case law of the European Court of Human Rights will be conducted through the lens of procedural fairness and suggestions for improvement of the freedom of religion case law will be made with the view of enhancing inclusion, particularly of non-dominant religious groups. Several case studies are conducted to this end, such as a case study concerning the treatment of cases about religious claims in the workplace and a case study concerning face veil bans.
Saila Ouald Chail defended this doctoral thesis successfully on 15 June 2015.
This PhD research is conducted in the framework of a project sponsored by the European Research Council ERC. The title of this project is “Strengthening the European Court of Human Rights: More Accountability through better legal reasoning“, ERC starting grant of prof. dr. Eva Brems.