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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report

Contents

A.3: Freedom of religion in England and Wales

11. The respect of a range of religions or beliefs is seen as a hallmark of a liberal democracy such as that of the United Kingdom. Under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (enshrined in the law of England and Wales by the Human Rights Act 1998), everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. There is also the right under Article 9 to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. This is a ‘qualified’ right, in that a state may limit it if necessary “in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.[1]

12. Religious bodies and organisations, however, remain fully subject to general law and it is axiomatic that neither the freedom of religion or belief, nor the rights of parents with regard to the education of their children, can ever justify the ill-treatment of children or prevent governmental authorities from taking measures necessary to protect children from harm.

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