The Right to ‘Special Food’ under Art. 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Author/s Maria Clara Maffei
Publishing Year 2012 Issue 2012/1 Language English
Pages 25 P. 101-125 File size 267 KB
DOI 10.3280/DUDI2012-001004
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The article analyzes some paradigmatic cases concerning the religious or cultural value of food which have been brought to the attention of the monitoring bodies instituted by the European Convention on Human Rights. Problems may arise in particular when individuals (e.g. prisoners, hospitalized people, military personnel, children at school) have to rely upon the State to provide sustenance. However, the Convention contains no reference to cultural or religious aspects of food nor to cultural rights in general. From this analysis it emerges that a right to "cultural" food could be framed in "wider" rights (e.g. freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to respect for private and family life, protection of property, prohibition of torture) as it is an aspect of them. While it is clear that not all dietary choices deserve protection and abuses should be avoided, the different interests of the State should be balanced against the interests of individuals who need special food for religious, conscience or cultural reasons. The balance has to be fair and this includes the possibility for States to offer valid dietary alternatives, although in some cases, as for many other human rights, States will continue to be able to restrict the rights of individuals on different grounds.

Maria Clara Maffei, The Right to ‘Special Food’ under Art. 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights in "DIRITTI UMANI E DIRITTO INTERNAZIONALE" 1/2012, pp 101-125, DOI: 10.3280/DUDI2012-001004