No. 22: Religious Liberty and Mass Expulsion in the European Union


  • Rachel Frank
Publish Date:
July 3, 2017
Publication Title:
European Union Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Rachel Frank, Religious Liberty and Mass Expulsion in the European Union, EU Law Working Papers No. 22, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2017).
Related Organization(s):


Article 19 to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits mass expulsions. This Working Paper argues that infringement upon religious liberty—in particular, ritual slaughtering, religious dress, and circumcision bans bans—could rise to the level of an Article 19 violation by forcing adherents of targeted religions to either assimilate or move. Use of Article 19 in this fashion would be unprecedented, but would provide plaintiffs with several benefits as compared to religious liberty provisions or antidiscrimination laws: (1) Article 19 would allow plaintiffs to argue that laws regulating religious expression have become too burdensome in aggregate (2) Article 19 could allow plaintiffs to demonstrate certain xenophobic statements made by lawmakers in enacting these regulations and (3) Article 19 has no derogation principle.
This Paper opens by discussing whether an indirect expulsion, such as forbidding a certain religious practice, can violate Article 19. After determining that such history and caselaw suggest that the answer is yes, this second section discusses three specific areas of regulation (circumcision, ritual slaughter, and religious dress) and how excessively burdensome regulation of these areas could lead to expulsion. The third section addresses why communities, in particular the Muslim community, may wish to consider Article 19 as an avenue for redress when religious liberty and antidiscrimination are already provided for in the Charter, Convention, and EU law.