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European Court of Human Rights: Capitus diminutio of persons opposed to hunting for reasons of conscience is not tolerableJUDGMENT STRASBOURG
CASE OF HERRMANN v. GERMANY
(Application no. 9300/07)
26 June 2012
EXCERPT: ...the ambit of the right to conscientious objection includes not only the freedom to act according to one’s beliefs, but also the freedom not to act, not to associate and not to tolerate actions from others which contradict one’s personal convictions. In the applicant’s case, the mere fact that he is a member de iure of the hunting association entails obligations and duties such as the duty not to fence off his land or in any other way impede the hunt and even the duty not to protect injured game. These duties run directly counter to his convictions and impose on him a way of life and a rule of behaviour incompatible with his beliefs. Thus, it is irrelevant that the applicant is not himself obliged to hunt or to take part in or support hunting.
Furthermore, the applicant is faced with a true conflict of conscience: either he remains faithful to his conscience and opposes hunting on his property and thus breaks the law, or he complies with the law and tolerates hunting on his property but breaches his conscience. Ultimately, the applicant would have to give up any land owned by him in hunting areas in order to avoid breaking the law or breaching his conscience. Such a capitus diminutio of persons opposed to hunting for reasons of conscience is not tolerable(...)
Moreover, the applicant is not imposing his conscience on others, as the Federal Administrative Court claimed. It is obvious that hunters are free to hunt when and for how long they want in spite of the applicant’s opinion on hunting. It is not the applicant who is interfering with the property or hunting rights of third parties. It is the hunting rights of third parties which are interfering with the applicant’s rights to property and conscience...
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