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Gorzelik and others v. Poland, (44158/98) [2004] ECHR 72 (17 February 2004)

Facts: The applicants and 190 others attempted to form an association gathering the minority of Silesian people but the Polish authorities refused to register the association on the ground that their real intention was to circumvent the provisions of the electoral law. The appeals against that decision failed.

Complaint: Relying on article 11 of the Convention, the applicants complained that the Polish authorities had arbitrarily refused to register their association and that the absence of any legal definition of a national minority in Poland made it impossible for them to foresee what criteria they were required to fulfill to have their association registered.

Holding: the refusal to register the applicants' association could be regarded as having been "necessary in a democratic society". The Court found no violation of Article 11.

Reasoning: the Court found an interference with the applicants' right to freedom of association and that the interference was justified because it "pursued a legitimate aim", namely the need to protect domestic law and the rights of other ethnic groups.

The lack of an express definition of the concept of a "national minority" in Polish legislation did not imply that Poland was in breach of its duty to frame law in sufficiently precise terms because it might be difficult to frame laws with a high degree of precision.




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