Teaching the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses to child

Concerning P.S. and his son T.S vs Denmark for violation of article 3 and 14 of CCPR.

The author married in 1983. In 1986, he and his wife were separated by decision of the County Authorities of North Jutland, which also decided on joint custody of the son. In 1988 the Municipal Court of Varde pronounced the divorce and awarded custody to the mother.

During the proceedings, a temporary agreement on the right of access was concluded between the author and his ex-wife; yet, after discovering that the author had converted to the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that he had taken his son to a rally of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the mother requested the County Authorities in Odense to decide on her conditions for granting access to T.S., under which the author had to refrain from teaching the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses to his son. In this context, it is noted that under Danish law, the parent who has custody may decide on the child’s religious education. However, the author refused to refrain from teaching his son the tenets of his religion and thus he filed a complaint to several authorities but got a negative decision from all of them. Therefore, a complaint was sent to CCPR.

The Committee recalls the State party’s contention that judicial review of administrative regulations and decisions, would be an effective remedy available to the author. The Committee notes that the author has refused to avail himself of these remedies, because of considerations of principle and in view of the costs involved. The Committee finds, however, that financial considerations and doubts about the effectiveness of domestic remedies do not absolve the author from exhausting them. The Committee therefore declares the communication to be inadmissible.

24. March 2020

CCPR 397/1990
  • Decision: 18. August 1992
  • Comm: Human Rights