Court oath breaches human rights

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it is illegal for Greece to require court witnesses to swear on the Bible or declare not to be Orthodox Christians so they can take a non-religious oath, according to the Athens News Agency.

The case against the religious oath in Greek courts was brought by three members of a human rights group known as the Greek Helsinki Monitor, who claimed that in 2008, they were asked by 34 different magistrates to declare they were not Christians so they could be excused from swearing a religious oath before giving evidence.

ANA said that in a unanimous decision, the European court ruled that this practice is a violation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It deemed that the religious oath went against the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It asked for the government to change Greek legislation so it could be in line with the convention.

The government had suggested earlier this year that it was considering changing the law, which also requires MPs, soldiers and various public officials to take religious oaths.