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Maestri v. Italy, (39748/98) [2004] ECHR 76 (17 February 2004)

Facts: The applicant is an Italian national, and is a judge and president of the La Spezia District Court. Disciplinary proceedings were brought against him for having been a member of a Masonic lodge and being a Freemason, whereby he was given a reprimand. His career seem to have been on a standstill since his reprimand.

Complaint: The applicant claimed that the imposition of a sanction on him violated Articles 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention.

Holding: the ECHR considered the claim under article 11 only and found a violation.

Reasoning: there had been interference with the applicant's right to freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11. The interference was not prescribed by law because the national regulation on which the disciplinary measure was based did not have a basis in domestic law and failed to satisfy the conditions of accessibility and foreseeability. Indeed, the wording of the directive prescribing the sanction was not sufficiently clear and foreseeable to enable the applicant, to realize that his membership of a Masonic lodge could lead to sanctions being imposed on him.




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