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GREECE - 21787/93 [1996] ECHR 72

(18 Decembe 1996!
In the case of Valsamis v. Greece (1),
The European Court of Human Rights, sitting, in accorance !ith
"rticle #$ (art. #$) of the Convention for the %rotection of
Human Rights an &unamental &reeoms ('the Convention') an the
relevant provisions of Rules of Court " ((), as a Cham)er compose of
the follo!ing *uges+
,r R. R-ssal, %resient,
,r Th.r Vilh*/lmsson,
,r 0. Valticos,
1ir 2ohn &reelan,
,r ,.". 3opes Rocha,
,r 3. 4ilha)er,
,r G. ,ifsu 5onnici,
,r 6. Gotchev,
,r %. 2am)re7,
an also of ,r H. %et8ol, Registrar, an ,r %.2. ,ahone-, 6eput-
Having eli)erate in private on ( 1eptem)er an
(9 0ovem)er 1::;,
6elivers the follo!ing *ugment, !hich !as aopte on the
last<mentione ate+
0otes )- the Registrar
1. The case is num)ere 9#>1::?>?@A>;;;. The first num)er is the
caseBs position on the list of cases referre to the Court in the
relevant -ear (secon num)er). The last t!o num)ers inicate the
caseBs position on the list of cases referre to the Court since its
creation an on the list of the corresponing originating applications
to the Commission.
(. Rules " appl- to all cases referre to the Court )efore the entr-
into force of %rotocol 0o. : (%:) (1 Ccto)er 1::#) an thereafter onl-
to cases concerning 1tates not )oun )- that %rotocol (%:). The-
correspon to the Rules that came into force on 1 2anuar- 1:@$, as
amene several times su)seDuentl-.
1. The case !as referre to the Court )- the European Commission
of Human Rights ('the Commission') on 1$ 1eptem)er 1::?, !ithin the
three<month perio lai o!n )- "rticle $( para. 1 an "rticle #9 of
the Convention (art. $(<1, art. #9). It originate in an application
(no. (19@9>:$) against the Hellenic Repu)lic loge !ith the Commission
uner "rticle (? (art. (?) )- three Gree7 nationals, Elias, ,aria an
Victoria Valsamis, on (; "pril 1::$.
The CommissionBs reDuest referre to "rticles ## an #@
(art. ##, art. #@) an to the eclaration !here)- Greece recognise the
compulsor- *urisiction of the Court ("rticle #;) (art. #;). The
o)*ect of the reDuest !as to o)tain a ecision as to !hether the facts
of the case isclose a )reach )- the responent 1tate of its
o)ligations uner "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<() an "rticles $,
: an 1$ of the Convention (art. $, art. :, art. 1$).
(. In response to the enDuir- mae in accorance !ith Rule $$
para. $ () of Rules of Court ", the applicants state that the- !ishe
to ta7e part in the proceeings an esignate the la!-ers !ho !oul
represent them (Rule $A).
$. The Cham)er to )e constitute inclue eF officio
,r 0. Valticos, the electe *uge of Gree7 nationalit- ("rticle #$ of
the Convention) (art. #$), an ,r R. R-ssal, the %resient of the
Court (Rule (1 para. # ())). Cn (9 1eptem)er 1::?, in the presence of
the Registrar, the %resient re! )- lot the names of the other
seven mem)ers, namel- ,r Th.r Vilh*/lmsson, 1ir 2ohn &reelan,
,r ,.". 3opes Rocha, ,r 3. 4ilha)er, ,r G. ,ifsu 5onnici,
,r 6. Gotchev an ,r %. 2am)re7 ("rticle #$ in fine of the Convention
an Rule (1 para. ?) (art. #$).
#. "s %resient of the Cham)er (Rule (1 para. ;), ,r R-ssal,
acting through the Registrar, consulte the "gent of the
Gree7 Government ('the Government'), the applicantsB la!-ers an the
6elegate of the Commission on the organisation of the proceeings
(Rules $9 para. 1 an $@). %ursuant to the orer mae in conseDuence,
the Registrar receive the GovernmentBs memorial on (@ ,a- 1::; an the
applicantsB memorial on (: ,a-.
Cn 1A 2anuar- 1::; the Commission ha prouce the file on the
proceeings )efore it, as reDueste )- the Registrar on the %resientBs
?. In accorance !ith the %resientBs ecision, the hearing too7
place in pu)lic in the Human Rights 5uiling, 1tras)ourg, on
(; "ugust 1::;. The Court ha hel a preparator- meeting )eforehan.
There appeare )efore the Court+
(a) for the Government
,r %. Georga7opoulos, 1enior "viser,
3egal Council of 1tate, 6elegate of the "gent,
,rs G. Grigoriou, 3egal "ssistant,
3egal Council of 1tate, CounselH
()) for the Commission
,r ,.%. %ellonpII, 6elegateH
(c) for the applicants
,r %.E. 5itsaFis, of the "thens 5ar,
,r 0. "livi8atos, %rofessor of Constitutional 3a!,
Eniversit- of "thens, "visers.
The Court hear aresses )- ,r %ellonpII, ,r "livi8atos,
,r 5itsaFis an ,r Georga7opoulos.
"t the hearing the 6elegate of the "gent of the Government
file certain ocuments.
"1 TC THE &"CT1
I. Circumstances of the case
;. The three applicants are 2ehovahBs 4itnesses. Elias an
,aria Valsamis are the parents of Victoria, !ho !as )orn in 1:@A an
is currentl- a pupil in the last three -ears of
1tate seconar- eucation at a school in ,elissia, "thens.
"ccoring to them, pacifism is a funamental tenet of their
religion an for)is an- conuct or practice associate !ith !ar or
violence, even inirectl-. It is for this reason that
2ehovahBs 4itnesses refuse to carr- out their militar- service or to
ta7e part in an- events !ith militar- overtones.
9. Cn (A 1eptem)er 1::( ,r an ,rs Valsamis su)mitte a !ritten
eclaration in orer that their aughter Victoria, !ho !as then 1( an
in the first three -ears of seconar- eucation at a school in
,elissia, shoul )e eFempte from attening school religious<eucation
lessons, CrthooF ,ass an an- other event that !as contrar- to her
religious )eliefs, incluing national<holia- cele)rations an pu)lic
@. Victoria !as eFempte from attenance at religious<eucation
lessons an CrthooF ,ass.
In Ccto)er 1::(, ho!ever, she, in common !ith the other pupils
at her school, !as as7e to ta7e part in the cele)ration of the
0ational 6a- on (@ Ccto)er, !hen the out)rea7 of !ar )et!een Greece an
&ascist Ital- on (@ Ccto)er 1:#A is commemorate !ith school an
militar- paraes.
Cn this occasion school paraes ta7e place in nearl- all to!ns
an villages. In the capital there is no militar- parae on
(@ Ccto)er, an in 1aloni7a the school parae is hel on a ifferent
a- from the militar- parae. The school an militar- paraes are onl-
hel simultaneousl- in a small num)er of municipalities.
:. Victoria informe the heamaster that her religious )eliefs
for)ae her *oining in the commemoration of a !ar )- ta7ing part, in
front of the civil, Church an militar- authorities, in a school parae
that !oul follo! an official ,ass an !oul )e hel on the same a-
as a militar- parae.
"ccoring to the applicants, the school authorities refuse to
accept her statement. In the GovernmentBs opinion, it !as imprecise
an mule an i not ma7e clear the religious )eliefs in Duestion.
"t all events, her reDuest to )e eFcuse attenance !as refuse )ut she
nevertheless i not ta7e part in the schoolBs parae.
1A. Cn (: Ccto)er 1::( the heamaster of the school punishe her
for her failure to atten !ith one a-Bs suspension from school. That
ecision !as ta7en in accorance !ith Circular no. C1>1>1 of
( 2anuar- 1::A issue )- the ,inistr- of Eucation an
Religious "ffairs (see paragraph 1$ )elo!).
II. Relevant omestic la! an practice
". Cn religion
11. The 1:9? Constitution contains the follo!ing provisions+
"rticle $
'1. The ominant religion in Greece is that of the
Christian Eastern CrthooF Church. The Gree7 CrthooF Church,
!hich recognises as its hea Cur 3or 2esus Christ, is
inissolu)l- unite, octrinall-, !ith the Great Church of
Constantinople an !ith an- other Christian Church in
communion !ith it JomooFiK, immuta)l- o)serving, li7e the
other Churches, the hol- apostolic an s-noical canons an
the hol- traitions. It is autocephalous an is aministere
)- the Hol- 1-no, compose of all the )ishops in office, an
)- the staning Hol- 1-no, !hich is an emanation of it
constitute as lai o!n in the Charter of the Church an in
accorance !ith the provisions of the %atriarchal Tome of
(: 2une 1@?A an the 1-noical "ct of # 1eptem)er 1:(@.
(. The ecclesiastical regime in certain regions of the
1tate shall not )e eeme contrar- to the provisions of the
foregoing paragraph.
$. The teFt of the Hol- 1criptures is unaltera)le. 0o
official translation into an- other form of language ma- )e
mae !ithout the prior consent of the autocephalous
Gree7 Church an the Great Christian Church at Constantinople.'
"rticle 1$
'1. &reeom of conscience in religious matters is
inviola)le. The en*o-ment of personal an political rights
shall not epen on an iniviualBs religious )eliefs.
(. There shall )e freeom to practise an- 7no!n religionH
iniviuals shall )e free to perform their rites of !orship
!ithout hinrance an uner the protection of the la!. The
performance of rites of !orship must not pre*uice pu)lic
orer or pu)lic morals. %rosel-tism is prohi)ite.
$. The ministers of all 7no!n religions shall )e su)*ect to
the same supervision )- the 1tate an to the same o)ligations
to it as those of the ominant religion.
#. 0o one ma- )e eFempte from ischarging his o)ligations
to the 1tate or refuse to compl- !ith the la! )- reason of his
religious convictions.
?. 0o oath ma- )e reDuire other than uner a la! !hich
also etermines the form of it.'
1(. " ro-al ecree of ($ 2ul- 1@$$ entitle '%roclamation of the
Inepenence of the Gree7 Church' escri)e the CrthooF Church as
'autocephalous'. GreeceBs successive Constitutions have referre to
the Church as )eing 'ominant'. "ccoring to Gree7 conceptions, the
CrthooF Church represents e *ure an e facto the religion of the
1tate itself, a goo num)er of !hose aministrative an eucational
functions (marriage an famil- la!, compulsor- religious instruction,
oaths s!orn )- mem)ers of the Government, etc.) it moreover carries
out. Its role in pu)lic life is reflecte )-, among other things, the
presence of the ,inister of Eucation an Religious "ffairs at the
sessions of the Church hierarch- at !hich the "rch)ishop of "thens is
electe an )- the participation of the Church authorities in all
official 1tate eventsH the %resient of the Repu)lic ta7es his oath of
office accoring to CrthooF ritual ("rticle $$ para. ( of the
Constitution)H an the official calenar follo!s that of the
Christian Eastern CrthooF Church.
5. Cn school matters
1$. Circular no. C1>1>1 of ( 2anuar- 1::A issue )- the
,inistr- of Eucation an Religious "ffairs provies+
'1choolchilren !ho are 2ehovahBs 4itnesses shall )e eFempte
from attening religious<eucation lessons, school pra-ers an
In orer for a schoolchil to )enefit from this eFemption,
)oth parents (or, in the case of ivorce parents, the parent
in !hom parental authorit- has )een veste )- court orer, or
the person having custo- of the chil) shall loge a !ritten
eclaration to the effect that the- an their chil (or the
chil of !hom the- have custo-) are 2ehovahBs 4itnesses.
0o schoolchil shall )e eFempte from ta7ing part in other
school activities, such as national events.'
1#. The relevant "rticles of %resiential 6ecree no. 1A#>1:9: of
(: 2anuar- an 9 &e)ruar- 1:9: are the follo!ing+
"rticle (
'1. The )ehaviour of pupils insie an outsie the school
shall constitute their conuct, irrespective of the manner <
)- act or )- omission < in !hich the- eFpress it.
%upils shall )e reDuire to conuct themselves suita)l-, that
is to sa- in accorance !ith the rules governing school life
an the moral principles governing the social conteFt in !hich
the- live, an an- act or omission in contravention of the
rules an principles in Duestion shall )e ealt !ith accoring
to the proceures provie in the eucational s-stem an ma-,
if necessar-, give rise to the isciplinar- measures provie
in this ecree.'
The isciplinar- measures lai o!n in "rticle (9 of the same
ecree are, in increasing orer of severit-, a !arning, a repriman,
eFclusion from lessons for an hour, suspension from school for up to
five a-s an transfer to another school.
"rticle (@ para. $
'1uspene pupils ma- remain at school uring teaching hours
an ta7e part in various activities, uner the responsi)ilit-
of the heamaster.'
C. "ppeals
1. The right of petition
1?. "rticle 1A of the Constitution provies+
'"n- person, or persons acting *ointl-, shall )e entitle,
su)*ect to compliance !ith the la!s of the 1tate, to su)mit
!ritten petitions to the authorities. The latter shall )e
reDuire to act as Duic7l- as possi)le in accorance !ith the
provisions in force an to give the petitioner a reasone
!ritten repl- in accorance !ith the statutor- provisions.'
"rticle # of 3egislative 6ecree no. 9:;>1:91 provies+
'Cnce the authorities have receive the petition Jprovie for
in "rticle 1A of the ConstitutionK, the- must repl- in !riting
an give the petitioner all necessar- eFplanations, !ithin the
time eeme a)solutel- necessar-, !hich shall not eFcee
thirt- a-s from service of the petition.'
(. 2uicial revie!
1;. "rticle :? of the Constitution is !ore as follo!s+
'The follo!ing shall in principle lie !ithin the *urisiction
of the 1upreme "ministrative Court+
(a) the setting asie, on application, of enforcea)le acts of
the aministrative authorities for misuse of authorit- or
error of la!.
"ccoring to the settle case<la! of the
1upreme "ministrative Court, 'ecisions of school authorities to
impose on pupils the penalties provie in "rticle (9 of
%resiential 6ecree no. 1A#>1:9: are intene to maintain the necessar-
iscipline !ithin schools an contri)ute to their smooth runningH the-
are internal measures !hich cannot )e enforce through the courts, an
no application lies to have them set asie )- the courts'
(*ugments nos. 1@(A>1:@:, 1@(1>1:@: an 1;?1>1::A). Cnl- transfer to
another school has )een hel to )e enforcea)le an amena)le to )eing
Duashe )- the 1upreme "ministrative Court (*ugment no. 1@(1>1:@:).
$. "ctions for amages
19. 1ection 1A? of the Introuctor- 3a! to the Civil Coe provies+
'The 1tate shall )e uner a ut- to ma7e goo an- amage
cause )- the unla!ful acts or omissions of its organs in the
eFercise of pu)lic authorit-, eFcept !here the unla!ful act or
omission is intene to serve the pu)lic interest. The person
responsi)le shall )e *ointl- an severall- lia)le, !ithout
pre*uice to the special provisions on ministerial
This section esta)lishes the concept of a special pre*uicial
act in pu)lic la!, creating 1tate lia)ilit- in tort. This lia)ilit-
results from unla!ful acts or omissions. The acts concerne ma- )e not
onl- legal acts )ut also ph-sical acts )- the aministrative
authorities, incluing acts !hich are not in principle enforcea)le
through the courts (G-ria7opoulos, Interpretation of the Civil Coe,
section 1A? of the Introuctor- 3a! to the Civil Coe, no. ($H
&ilios, Contract, 1pecial %art, volume ;, Tort, 1:99, para. #@ 5 11(H
E. 1piliotopoulos, "ministrative 3a!, $r eition, para. (19H
Court of Cassation *ugment no. ?$?>1:91, 0omi7o Vima, 1:th -ear,
p. 1#1#H Court of Cassation *ugment no. #:(>1:;9, 0omi7o Vima,
1;th -ear, p. 9?).
The amissi)ilit- of an action for amages is su)*ect to
one conition, namel- the unla!fulness of the act or omission.
"rticle ?9 of the Civil Coe ('%ersonal rights') provies+
'"n- person !hose personal rights are unla!full- infringe
shall )e entitle to )ring proceeings to enforce cessation of
the infringement an restraint of an- future infringement.
4here the personal rights infringe are those of a ecease
person, the right to )ring proceeings shall )e veste in his
spouse, escenants, ascenants, )rothers, sisters an
testamentar- )eneficiaries. In aition, claims for amages
in accorance !ith the provisions relating to unla!ful acts
shall not )e eFclue.'
1@. The applicants applie to the Commission on (; "pril 1::$.
The- allege violations of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<() an of
"rticles $ an : of the Convention (art. $, art. :) an of "rticle 1$
of the Convention ta7en together !ith the aforementione "rticles
(art. 1$L%1<(, art. 1$L$, art. 1$L:).
1:. Cn (: 0ovem)er 1::# the Commission eclare the application
(no. (19@9>:$) amissi)le. In its report of ; 2ul- 1::? ("rticle $1)
(art. $1), it eFpresse the opinion that
(a) there ha )een no violation of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1
(%1<() in respect of the first t!o applicants (nineteen votes to ten)H
()) there ha )een no violation of "rticle : of the Convention
(art. :) in respect of the thir applicant (seventeen votes to t!elve)H
(c) there ha )een no violation of "rticle $ of the Convention
(art. $) in respect of the thir applicant (unanimousl-)H
() there ha )een a violation of "rticle 1$ of the Convention
ta7en together !ith "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (art. 1$L%1<() in
respect of the first t!o applicants (t!ent-<four votes to five)H
(e) there ha )een a violation of "rticle 1$ of the Convention
ta7en together !ith "rticle : of the Convention (art. 1$L:) in respect
of the thir applicant (t!ent-<siF votes to three)H
(f) there ha )een no violation of "rticle 1$ of the Convention
ta7en together !ith "rticle $ of the Convention (art. 1$L$) in respect
of the thir applicant (t!ent-<four votes to five).
The full teFt of the CommissionBs opinion an of the
four separate opinions containe in the report is reprouce as an
anneF to this *ugment (1).
0ote )- the Registrar
1. &or practical reasons this anneF !ill appear onl- !ith the printe
version of the *ugment (in Reports of 2ugments an
6ecisions 1::;<VI), )ut a cop- of the CommissionBs report is o)taina)le
from the registr-.
(A. In their memorial the Government reDueste the Court to ismiss
the application as )eing unfoune.
"1 TC THE 3"4
(1. Rel-ing on "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<() an "rticles $,
: an 1$ of the Convention (art. $, art. :, art. 1$), the applicants
complaine of the penalt- of one a-Bs suspension from school that !as
impose on the pupil Victoria, !ho ha refuse to ta7e part in the
school parae on (@ Ccto)er, a national a- in Greece. 1ince, o!ing
to their religious )eliefs, ,r an ,rs Valsamis !ere oppose to an-
event !ith militar- overtones, the- ha sought an eFemption for their
aughter, )ut in vain. The- relie on the CommissionBs opinion in the
case of "rro!smith v. the Enite Gingom (application no. 9A?A>9?,
6ecisions an Reports 1:, p. 1:, para. ;:), accoring to !hich pacifism
as a philosoph- fell !ithin the am)it of the right to freeom of
thought an conscience, an the attitue of pacifism coul thus )e seen
as a )elief protecte )- "rticle : para. 1 (art. :<1). The- therefore
claime recognition of their pacifism uner the hea of religious
)eliefs, since all 2ehovahBs 4itnesses !ere )oun to practise pacifism
in ail- life.
I. "33EGE6 VIC3"TIC0 C& "RTIC3E ( C& %RCTCCC3 0o. 1 (%1<()
((. ,r an ,rs Valsamis allege that the- !ere the victims of a
)reach of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<(), !hich provies+
'0o person shall )e enie the right to eucation. In the
eFercise of an- functions !hich it assumes in relation to
eucation an to teaching, the 1tate shall respect the right
of parents to ensure such eucation an teaching in conformit-
!ith their o!n religious an philosophical convictions.'
The parents i not allege an- )reach of VictoriaBs right to
eucation. Cn the other han, the- consiere that the a)ove provision
(%1<() prohi)ite reDuiring their aughter to ta7e part in events
eFtolling patriotic ieals to !hich the- i not su)scri)eH pupilsB
eucation shoul )e provie through histor- lessons rather than school
($. The Government conteste the parentsB su)mission, arguing that
the school parae on (@ Ccto)er ha no militar- overtones such as to
offen pacifist convictions.
The- ispute that ,r an ,rs ValsamisBs )elief coul count as
a conviction for the purposes of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<().
The- ae that the 1tateBs eucational function, !hich ha to )e
unerstoo in a )roa sense, allo!e it to inclue in pupilsB
school curriculum the reDuirement to parae on (@ Ccto)er.
The 0ational 6a- commemorate GreeceBs attachment to the values
of emocrac-, li)ert- an human rights !hich ha provie the
founation for the post<!ar legal orer. It !as not an eFpression of
)ellicose feelings, nor i it glorif- militar- conflict. Communal
cele)ration of it retaine toa- an iealistic an pacifist character
that !as strengthene )- the presence of school paraes.
3astl-, a pupilBs temporar- suspension ha a negligi)le effect
on the annual programme of stu- an coul not )e regare as a enial
of the right to eucation.
(#. In the CommissionBs vie!, the convictions of
2ehovahBs 4itnesses !ere protecte )- "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1
(%1<() an the school parae in Duestion !as not of a militar-
character incompati)le !ith pacifist convictions.
"t the hearing the 6elegate ae that the scope of "rticle (
of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<() !as limiteH the provision (%1<() must ena)le
parents to o)tain eFemption from religious<eucation lessons if the
religious instruction !as contrar- to their convictions, )ut it i not
reDuire the 1tate to guarantee that all their !ishes, even if the- !ere
foune on their convictions, shoul )e accee to in eucational an
relate matters. In this instance, the pupil ha not )een refuse the
right to eucation )- )eing suspene for onl- a short time.
(?. The Court oes not consier that it must rule of its o!n motion
on the Duestion !hether the pupil VictoriaBs right to eucation !as
It reiterates that 'the t!o sentences of "rticle ( Jof
%rotocol 0o. 1K (%1<() must )e rea not onl- in the light of each other
)ut also, in particular, of "rticles @, : an 1A of the Convention
(art. @, art. :, art. 1A)' (see the G*elsen, 5us7 ,asen an %eersen
v. 6enmar7 *ugment of 9 6ecem)er 1:9;, 1eries " no. ($, p. (;,
para. ?().
The term ')elief' ('conviction') appears in "rticle : (art. :)
in the conteFt of the right to freeom of thought, conscience an
religion. The concept of 'religious an philosophical convictions'
appears in "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<(). 4hen appl-ing that
provision (%1<(), the Court has hel that in its orinar- meaning
'convictions', ta7en on its o!n, is not s-non-mous !ith the !ors
'opinions' an 'ieas'. It enotes 'vie!s that attain a certain level
of cogenc-, seriousness, cohesion an importance' (see the
Camp)ell an Cosans v. the Enite Gingom *ugment of (? &e)ruar- 1:@(,
1eries " no. #@, p. 1;, para. $;).
(;. "s the Court o)serve in its *ugment of (? ,a- 1::$ in the
case of Go77ina7is v. Greece (1eries " no. (;A<", p. 1@, para. $(),
2ehovahBs 4itnesses en*o- )oth the status of a '7no!n religion' an the
avantages flo!ing from that as regars o)servance.
,r an ,rs Valsamis !ere accoringl- entitle to rel- on the right to
respect for their religious convictions !ithin the meaning of this
provision (%1<(). It remains to )e ascertaine !hether the 1tate
faile to ischarge its o)ligations to respect those convictions in the
applicantsB case.
(9. The Court reiterates that "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<()
en*oins the 1tate to respect parentsB convictions, )e the- religious
or philosophical, throughout the entire 1tate eucation programme
(see the G*elsen, 5us7 ,asen an %eersen *ugment cite a)ove,
p. (?, para. ?1). That ut- is )roa in its eFtent as it applies not
onl- to the content of eucation an the manner of its provision )ut
also to the performance of all the 'functions' assume )- the 1tate.
The ver) 'respect' means more than 'ac7no!lege' or 'ta7e into
account'. In aition to a primaril- negative unerta7ing, it implies
some positive o)ligation on the part of the 1tate (see the
Camp)ell an Cosans *ugment cite a)ove, p. 19, para. $9).
The Court has also hel that 'although iniviual interests
must on occasion )e su)orinate to those of a group, emocrac- oes
not simpl- mean that the vie!s of a ma*orit- must al!a-s prevail+ a
)alance must )e achieve !hich ensures the fair an proper treatment
of minorities an avois an- a)use of a ominant position'
(Moung, 2ames an 4e)ster v. the Enite Gingom *ugment of
1$ "ugust 1:@1, 1eries " no. ##, p. (?, para. ;$).
(@. Ho!ever, 'the setting an planning of the curriculum fall in
principle !ithin the competence of the Contracting 1tates. This mainl-
involves Duestions of eFpeienc- on !hich it is not for the Court to
rule an !hose solution ma- legitimatel- var- accoring to the countr-
an the era' (see the G*elsen, 5us7 ,asen an %eersen *ugment cite
a)ove, p. (;, para. ?$). Given that iscretion, the Court has hel
that the secon sentence of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<() for)is
the 1tate 'to pursue an aim of inoctrination that might )e regare
as not respecting parentsB religious an philosophical convictions.
That is the limit that must not )e eFceee' (i)i.).
(:. The imposition of isciplinar- penalties is an integral part
of the process !here)- a school see7s to achieve the o)*ect for !hich
it !as esta)lishe, incluing the evelopment an mouling of the
character an mental po!ers of its pupils (see the
Camp)ell an Cosans *ugment cite a)ove, p. 1#, para. $$).
$A. In the first place, the Court notes that ,iss Valsamis !as
eFempte from religious<eucation lessons an the CrthooF ,ass, as ha
)een reDueste )- her parents. The latter also !ishe to have her
eFempte from having to parae uring the national commemoration on
(@ Ccto)er.
$1. 4hile it is not for the Court to rule on the Gree7 1tateBs
ecisions as regars the setting an planning of the school curriculum,
it is surprise that pupils can )e reDuire on pain of suspension from
school < even if onl- for a a- < to parae outsie the
school precincts on a holia-.
0evertheless, it can iscern nothing, either in the purpose of
the parae or in the arrangements for it, !hich coul offen the
applicantsB pacifist convictions to an eFtent prohi)ite )- the
secon sentence of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<().
1uch commemorations of national events serve, in their !a-,
)oth pacifist o)*ectives an the pu)lic interest. The presence of
militar- representatives at some of the paraes !hich ta7e place in
Greece on the a- in Duestion oes not in itself alter the nature of
the paraes.
&urthermore, the o)ligation on the pupil oes not eprive her
parents of their right 'to enlighten an avise their chilren, to
eFercise !ith regar to their chilren natural parental functions as
eucators, or to guie their chilren on a path in line !ith the
parentsB o!n religious or philosophical convictions'
(see, mutatis mutanis, the G*elsen, 5us7 ,asen an %eersen *ugment
cite a)ove, p. (@, para. ?#).
$(. It is not for the Court to rule on the eFpeienc- of other
eucational methos !hich, in the applicantsB vie!, !oul )e )etter
suite to the aim of perpetuating historical memor- among the
-ounger generation. It notes, ho!ever, that the penalt- of suspension,
!hich cannot )e regare as an eFclusivel- eucational measure an ma-
have some ps-chological impact on the pupil on !hom it is impose, is
nevertheless of limite uration an oes not reDuire the eFclusion of
the pupil from the school premises ("rticle (@ para. $ of
6ecree no. 1A#>1:9: < see paragraph 1# a)ove).
$$. In conclusion, there has not )een a )reach of "rticle ( of
%rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<().
II. "33EGE6 VIC3"TIC0 C& "RTIC3E : C& THE CC0VE0TIC0 (art. :)
$#. ,iss Valsamis relie on "rticle : of the Convention (art. :),
!hich provies+
'1. Ever-one has the right to freeom of thought, conscience
an religionH this right inclues freeom to change his
religion or )elief an freeom, either alone or in communit-
!ith others an in pu)lic or private, to manifest his religion
or )elief, in !orship, teaching, practice an o)servance.
(. &reeom to manifest oneBs religion or )eliefs shall )e
su)*ect onl- to such limitations as are prescri)e )- la! an
are necessar- in a emocratic societ- in the interests of
pu)lic safet-, for the protection of pu)lic orer, health or
morals, or for the protection of the rights an freeoms of
1he asserte that the provision (art. :) guarantee her right
to the negative freeom not to manifest, )- gestures of support, an-
convictions or opinions contrar- to her o!n. 1he ispute )oth the
necessit- an the proportionalit- of the interference, having regar
to the seriousness of the penalt-, !hich stigmatise her an
marginalise her.
$?. In the GovernmentBs su)mission, "rticle : (art. :) protecte
onl- aspects of religious practice in a generall- recognise form that
!ere strictl- a matter of conscience. The 1tate !as not uner an
o)ligation to ta7e positive measures to aapt its activities to the
various manifestations of its citi8ensB philosophical or
religious )eliefs.
$;. The Commission consiere that "rticle : (art. :) i not
confer a right to eFemption from isciplinar- rules !hich applie
generall- an in a neutral manner an that in the instant case there
ha )een no interference !ith the applicantBs right to freeom to
manifest her religion or )elief.
$9. The Court notes at the outset that ,iss Valsamis !as eFempte
from religious eucation an the CrthooF ,ass, as she ha reDueste
on the grouns of her o!n religious )eliefs. It has alrea- hel, in
paragraphs $1<$$ a)ove, that the o)ligation to ta7e part in the
school parae !as not such as to offen her parentsB religious
convictions. The impugne measure therefore i not amount to an
interference !ith her right to freeom of religion either (see, in
particular, the 2ohnston an Cthers v. Irelan *ugment of
1@ 6ecem)er 1:@;, 1eries " no. 11(, p. (9, para. ;$).
$@. There has conseDuentl- not )een a )reach of "rticle : of the
Convention (art. :).
III. "33EGE6 VIC3"TIC0 C& "RTIC3E $ C& THE CC0VE0TIC0 (art. $)
$:. ,iss Valsamis !ent on to allege, !ithout giving an-
particulars, that her suspension from school !as contrar- to "rticle $
of the Convention (art. $), !hich provies+
'0o one shall )e su)*ecte to torture or to inhuman or
egraing treatment or punishment.'
#A. The Government i not eFpress a vie!.
#1. The Court reiterates that ill<treatment must attain a minimum
level of severit- if it is to fall !ithin the scope of "rticle $
(art. $) (see, in particular, the Irelan v. the Enite Gingom
*ugment of 1@ 2anuar- 1:9@, 1eries " no. (?, p. ;?, para. 1;(, an the
Camp)ell an Cosans *ugment cite a)ove, pp. 1(<1$, paras. (9<(@).
3i7e the Commission, it perceives no infringement of this provision
(art. $).
#(. In conclusion, there has )een no )reach of "rticle $ of the
Convention (art. $).
IV. "33EGE6 VIC3"TIC0 C& "RTIC3E 1$ C& THE CC0VE0TIC0 (art. 1$)
#$. The three applicants also complaine of a )reach of "rticle 1$
of the Convention (art. 1$), !hich provies+
'Ever-one !hose rights an freeoms as set forth in this
Convention are violate shall have an effective reme- )efore
a national authorit- not!ithstaning that the violation has
)een committe )- persons acting in an official capacit-.'
The- asserte that no effective reme- !as availa)le to them
for su)mitting their complaints an having the isciplinar- penalt- set
##. The Government accepte that it !as not possi)le to appl- to
the 1upreme "ministrative Court to have the isciplinar- measure <
!hich !as purel- eucational < set asie. "part from the general
remeies provie in the Constitution, the applicants coul, ho!ever,
avail themselves of those provie )- "rticle ?9 of the Civil Coe, for
infringement of personal rights, an section 1A? of the
Introuctor- 3a! to the Civil Coe, for compensation for amage
sustaine as a result of an unla!ful act )- a pu)lic authorit-. The
protection guarantee )- the courts therefore satisfie the
reDuirements of "rticle 1$ (art. 1$).
#?. The 6elegate of the Commission pointe out at the hearing that
the remeies !ere inaeDuate as the- presuppose a fining that the
pu)lic authorit-Bs act complaine of !as unla!ful.
#;. The Court reiterates that "rticle 1$ (art. 1$) secures to
an-one claiming on argua)le grouns to )e the victim of a violation of
his rights an freeoms as protecte in the Convention an effective
reme- )efore a national authorit- in orer )oth to have his claim
ecie an, if appropriate, to o)tain reress (see, in particular, the
follo!ing *ugments+ Glass an Cthers v. German-, ; 1eptem)er 1:9@,
1eries " no. (@, p. (:, para. ;#H %lattform 'Nr8te fOr as 3e)en'
v. "ustria, (1 2une 1:@@, 1eries " no. 1$:, p. 11, para. (?H an
Vilvara*ah an Cthers v. the Enite Gingom, $A Ccto)er 1::1, 1eries "
no. (1?, p. $:, para. 1(().
#9. The conclusions in paragraphs $$ an $@ a)ove o not mean that
the allegations of failure to compl- !ith "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1
(%1<() an "rticle : of the Convention (art. :) !ere not argua)le. The
Court accepts that the- !ere. The applicants !ere therefore entitle
to have a reme- in orer to raise their allegations. Cn the other
han, as regars the complaint uner "rticle $ of the Convention
(art. $), on !hich ,iss Valsamis i not eFpan, the Court consiers
that it contains no argua)le allegation of a )reach
(see, mutatis mutanis, the %o!ell an Ra-ner v. the Enite Gingom
*ugment of (1 &e)ruar- 1::A, 1eries " no. 19(, pp. 1#<1?,
paras. $1<$$).
#@. It must accoringl- )e etermine !hether GreeceBs legal orer
affore the applicants an effective reme- !ithin the meaning of
"rticle 1$ of the Convention (art. 1$) that ena)le them to put for!ar
their argua)le complaints an o)tain reress.
It !as common groun that it !as not possi)le to appl- to the
aministrative courts for *uicial revie!. That )eing so, the
applicants coul not o)tain a *uicial ecision that the isciplinar-
measure of suspension from school !as unla!ful. 1uch a ecision,
ho!ever, is a prereDuisite for su)mitting a claim for compensation
(see paragraph 19 a)ove). The actions for amages referre to in
"rticle ?9 of the Civil Coe an section 1A? of the Introuctor- 3a!
to the Civil Coe !ere therefore of no avail to them. "s to the other
remeies relie on, the Government cite no instance of their use
similar to the present case, an their effectiveness has accoringl-
not )een esta)lishe.
#:. 3i7e the Commission, the Court thus fins, having regar to all
the circumstances of the case, that the applicants i not have an
effective reme- )efore a national authorit- in orer to raise the
complaints the- later su)mitte at 1tras)ourg. There has conseDuentl-
)een a )reach of "rticle 1$ of the Convention ta7en together !ith
"rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 an "rticle : of the Convention
(art. 1$L%1<(, art. 1$L:), )ut not ta7en together !ith "rticle $ of the
Convention (art. 1$L$).
V. "%%3IC"TIC0 C& "RTIC3E ?A C& THE CC0VE0TIC0 (art. ?A)
?A. 5- "rticle ?A of the Convention (art. ?A),
'If the Court fins that a ecision or a measure ta7en )- a
legal authorit- or an- other authorit- of a High Contracting
%art- is completel- or partiall- in conflict !ith the
o)ligations arising from the ... Convention, an if the
internal la! of the sai %art- allo!s onl- partial reparation
to )e mae for the conseDuences of this ecision or measure,
the ecision of the Court shall, if necessar-, affor *ust
satisfaction to the in*ure part-.'
". 0on<pecuniar- amage
?1. ,r an ,rs Valsamis an their aughter each sought compensation
in the amount of 1,AAA rachmas.
?(. The Government foun the applicantsB attitue 'remar7a)le'.
The 6elegate of the Commission i not eFpress a vie!.
?$. The Court consiers that the applicants have sustaine
non<pecuniar- amage )ut that the fining of a )reach of "rticle 1$ of
the Convention ta7en together !ith "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 an
"rticle : of the Convention (art. 1$L%1<(, art. 1$L:) is sufficient to
compensate them for it.
5. Costs an eFpenses
?#. &or the costs an eFpenses relating to the proceeings at
1tras)ourg the applicants claime a sum of ?,(?A,AAA rachmas.
??. The Government Duestione the amounts sought in respect of
la!-ersB fees an sunr- eFpenses an ispute the nee for the
applicants to atten the hearing. The 6elegate of the Commission
eFpresse no vie!.
?;. Having regar to the )reach of "rticle 1$ of the Convention
(art. 1$), the Court, ma7ing its assessment on an eDuita)le )asis as
reDuire )- "rticle ?A (art. ?A), a!ars the applicants
;AA,AAA rachmas in respect of costs an eFpenses.
C. 6efault interest
?9. "ccoring to the information availa)le to the Court, the
statutor- rate of interest applica)le in Greece at the ate of aoption
of the present *ugment is ;P per annum.
1. Hols )- seven votes to t!o that there has not )een a )reach
of "rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<()H
(. Hols )- seven votes to t!o that there has not )een a )reach
of "rticle : of the Convention (art. :)H
$. Hols unanimousl- that there has not )een a )reach of
"rticle $ of the Convention (art. $)H
#. Hols unanimousl- that there has )een a )reach of "rticle 1$
of the Convention ta7en together !ith "rticle ( of
%rotocol 0o. 1 an "rticle : of the Convention (art. 1$L%1<(,
art. 1$L:), )ut not ta7en together !ith "rticle $ of the
Convention (art. 1$L$)H
?. Hols unanimousl- that this *ugment in itself constitutes
sufficient *ust satisfaction for the allege non<pecuniar-
;. Hols unanimousl- that the responent 1tate is to pa- the
applicants, !ithin three months,
;AA,AAA (siF hunre thousan) rachmas for costs an
eFpenses, on !hich sum simple interest at an annual rate of ;P
shall )e pa-a)le from the eFpir- of the a)ove<mentione
three months until settlement.
6one in English an in &rench, an elivere at a pu)lic
hearing in the Human Rights 5uiling, 1tras)ourg, on 1@ 6ecem)er 1::;.
1igne+ Rolv RM116"3
1igne+ Her)ert %ETQC36
In accorance !ith "rticle ?1 para. ( of the Convention
(art. ?1<() an Rule ?$ para. ( of Rules of Court ", the *oint
issenting opinion of ,r Th.r Vilh*/lmsson an ,r 2am)re7 is anneFe
to this *ugment.
Initialle+ R.R.
Initialle+ H.%.
2CI0T 6I11E0TI0G C%I0IC0 C& 2E6GE1 THRR VI3H2S3,11C0 "06 2",5REG
In this case !e fin a violation )oth of "rticle ( of
%rotocol 0o. 1 to the Convention (%1<() an of "rticle : of the
Convention (art. :). In this !e isagree !ith the *ugment. Cn the
other points set out in the operative provisions of the *ugment !e
vote in the same !a- as the ma*orit- of the *uges.
"rticle ( of %rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<()
,r an ,rs Valsamis allege that there is a )reach of this
"rticle (%1<() !here pupils, li7e their aughter Victoria, are force
as part of their school uties to ta7e part in organise events im)ue
!ith a s-m)olism that is contrar- to the most eepl- hel religious an
philosophical convictions of their parents. This applies even more
!here the events are hel in a pu)lic place, outsie school, on a
national holia- !ith the intention of elivering a message to the
communit- concerne. "ccoring to ,r an ,rs Valsamis, the pupils are
thus o)lige to sho! pu)licl-, )- their acts, that the- ahere to
)eliefs contrar- to those of their parents.
In our opinion, ,r an ,rs ValsamisBs perception of the
s-m)olism of the school parae an its religious an philosophical
connotations has to )e accepte )- the Court unless it is o)viousl-
unfoune an unreasona)le.
4e o not thin7 that the opinions of ,r an ,rs Valsamis !ere
o)viousl- unfoune an unreasona)le. Even if their aughterBs
participation in the parae !oul onl- have ta7en up part of one a-
an the punishment for not attening !as, in o)*ective terms, not
severe, the episoe !as capa)le of istur)ing )oth the parents an the
girl an humiliating Victoria. Commemorations of national events are
valua)le to most people, )ut the Valsamis famil- !as uner no
o)ligation to hol that opinion !ith regar to the parae at issue in
this case. 0either is it an argument against fining a violation that
the participation !as part of VictoriaBs eucation, )ecause the nature
of such school activities is not neutral an the- o not form part of
the usual school curriculum.
&or these reasons !e fin a violation of "rticle ( of
%rotocol 0o. 1 (%1<().
"rticle : (art. :)
Victoria Valsamis state that the parae she i not
participate in ha a character an s-m)olism that !ere clearl- contrar-
to her neutralist, pacifist, an thus religious, )eliefs. 4e are of
the opinion that the Court has to accept that an !e fin no )asis for
seeing VictoriaBs participation in this parae as necessar- in a
emocratic societ-, even if this pu)lic event clearl- !as for most
people an eFpression of national values an unit-.
4e therefore fin a violation of "rticle : (art. :).