Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Helsinki Commission Report Describes Barriers to Recognition for Religious Groups in Slovakia

WASHINGTON – A United States Helsinki Commission staff report released today expressed concern about the excessively burdensome membership requirements mandated under Slovakia’s religion law.

The Commission report describes the framework of the Slovak law and its impact on minority faiths. Under Slovak law, a religious group cannot qualify for government recognition unless it can show that it has at least 20,000 members. The report highlights that this threshold is the highest of any of the 55 OSCE participating States.

“Slovakia’s registration requirements are excessively restrictive,” said Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “It’s not surprising that such a law has drawn international scrutiny.”

“I’m pleased that there has recently been discussion of this important issue in the Slovak press,” added Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). “I hope this report will intensify the ongoing debate in Slovakia on the need to reform their religious registration laws.”

The report states, “The current registration regime, with its incredibly demanding requirement of 20,000 persons, effectively bars groups from obtaining registered status and is out of step with European norms and Slovakia’s OSCE commitments.” The report urges Slovakia to “amend the registration system and eliminate the numerical threshold.”

Slovak law prevents between 30 and 50 groups from obtaining registration. Currently, sixteen religious groups are officially recognized in Slovakia, but fourteen of those groups were exempted from the registration requirement when it was first enacted in 1991. Reportedly only five of those fourteen would actually be able to meet the 20,000-person threshold if required to do so today.

The report is available through the Helsinki Commission’s web site at www.csce.gov. The report is part of an ongoing series of reports examining laws and draft legislation affecting religious freedom in OSCE participating States.

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Press Releases

HELSINKI COMMISSION SENDS APPEAL TO GEORGIAN PRESIDE...

Apr 28, 2023

WASHINGTON— The leadership of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), and Ranking Members Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Senator Roger Wicker (MS) sent a letter to Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili urging her to intervene to break […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

CHURCH, STATE, AND RUSSIA’S WAR ON UKRAINE

Apr 27, 2023

The Putin regime has long used the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to consolidate its power at home and abroad. Under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, the ROC has explicitly endorsed Russia’s war on Ukraine, even blessing weapons for the invasion. Churches under the mantle of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) had long been viewed […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Congressmen Cohen and Wilson Introduce Resolution Re...

Oct 28, 2022

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, and the Commission’s Ranking Member, Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), today introduced a resolution recognizing October 30 as International Day of Political Prisoners. Congressman Cohen was recently named the Special Representative on Political Prisoners […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Congressmen Cohen and Wilson Introduce Resolution Re...

Oct 28, 2022

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, and the Commission’s Ranking Member, Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), today introduced a resolution recognizing October 30 as International Day of Political Prisoners. Congressman Cohen was recently named the Special Representative on Political Prisoners […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

CO-CHAIRMAN COHEN APPOINTED AS OSCE PARLIAMENTARY AS...

Jul 21, 2022

WASHINGTON—Margareta Cederfelt, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA), has appointed Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) as the first-ever OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners. “I welcome the chance to serve as the voice of political prisoners across the OSCE region,” said Co-Chairman Cohen. “Every day, we witness more political arrests of […]

screen-reader-text
Articles

Chairman Cardin, OSCE participating States Commit to...

Feb 15, 2022

By Ryn Hintz, Paulina Kanburiyan, and Worth Talley, Max Kampelman Fellows, and Shannon Simrell, Representative of the Helsinki Commission to the U.S. Mission to the OSCE On February 7 – 8, 2022, the OSCE’s Polish Chair-in-Office organized a high-level conference in Warsaw on Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region with the support of OSCE’s Office […]

screen-reader-text
Logo_tile_368x331
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Commemorates 45 Years of Advanci...

Jun 03, 2021

WASHINGTON—To commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, on June 3, Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) and commission leaders Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) and Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statements: “The Helsinki Commission has played a vital role in elevating […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Cardin, Hudson Pledge Support to Ukraine in Bilatera...

May 03, 2021

WASHINGTON—In response to increased Russian aggression against Ukraine, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) and Commissioner Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) initiated an exceptional bilateral meeting with members of the Ukrainian Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) on April 30.  Chairman Cardin, who serves as Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Assembly, […]

screen-reader-text
Helsinki Commission Logo 1500x770
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest: April 2021

Apr 30, 2021

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Wicker, Shaheen Reintroduce Bill to Hold Russia Acco...

Apr 22, 2021

WASHINGTON—Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) today reintroduced the bipartisan Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (S.1310). It is a companion bill to H.R. 496, introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), which unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday. “The Kremlin’s current repression in Ukraine mirrors an […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commissioners Reintroduce Ukraine Religious...

Jan 29, 2021

WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Commissioner Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05) yesterday reintroduced the bipartisan Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (H.R. 496) in the House of Representatives. The House unanimously passed the original legislation, which targets Russia’s religious freedom violations in Ukraine, on November 18, 2020. “The Kremlin and its proxies […]

screen-reader-text
Helsinki Commission Logo 1500x770
Publications

Helsinki Commission Digital Digest: January 2021

Jan 29, 2021

screen-reader-text