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Sources juridiques

The most important constitutional provisions in Czech religious law are Articles 15 and 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms from 1991. The Charter is deemed as a second part of the Czech Constitution.
Article 15(1) of the Charter states explicitly that everybody has the right to change his or her religion or faith, or to have no religious beliefs.
Article 16(1) concerns the right to profess freely a personal religion or faith, alone or jointly with others, through religious services, instruction, religious acts, or religious rituals. Religious freedom is guaranteed to everyone.
Article 16(2) of the Charter refers to the collective dimension of religious freedom. Religious communities have freedom to administer their own affairs : in particular constitute their organisations, appoint their clergy, and establish religious orders and other church institutions independently of the institutions of the state.

According to the Constitution of the Czech Republic of 1993 international agreements, the ratification of which has been approved by Parliament and which are binding on the Czech Republic, constitute a part of the Czech legal order ; should an international agreement make a provision contrary to Czech law, the international agreement is to be applied.
There are following ratified international agreements : International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, and others.
An international agreement between the Czech Republic and the Apostolic See was signed in July 2002, but the House of Deputies of the Parliament voted by 110 votes to 90 not to recommend its ratification. The proposal for such a recommendation may be resubmitted at a more favourable time.

The regulatory framework of Czech religious law is based on Act No. 3/2002 Sb. (Sb. = Sbírka zákonů, Collection of Laws of the Czech Republic) on Freedom of Religious Expressions and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies (Act on Churches and Religious Societies). Some provisions of the Act were struck down by the Czech Constitutional Court in 2002. The Act was several times amended.

Another important legal act is Act No. 428/2012 Sb. on Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies, and to Amend Certain Other Laws. The act came into force on 1 January 2013. The Act combines restitution in kind of property appropriated from religious communities from 25 February 1948 until the end of 1989, and financial compensation for non-restored property. It gradually cancels the paying of stipends to the clergy by the State, thereby introducing the financial independence of religious communities.

There are also several treaties between the state and other corporations of public law and religious communities at an internal level in present Czech law :
a. The Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, and the Czech Bishops’ Conference (1998, amended in 2012),
b. The Agreements on Pastoral Service in Prisons between the Prison Administration of the Czech Republic, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, and the Czech Bishops’ Conference (the last one is from 2013),
c. The Agreement on Cooperation between public Czech Radio, the Czech Bishops’ Conference, and the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic (1999),
d. The Agreement between the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, and the Czech Bishops’ Conference on participation of the clergy in providing post-traumatic interventional care (2011). This agreement concerns officers of police, firemen, employees of the Police and the Ministry of Interior, members of their families, and victims of criminal offences and catastrophes.

D 15 septembre 2016    AJiří Rajmund Tretera AZáboj Horák

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