The applicant, Mr. R., was serving prison sentence. The applicant complained that he had requested to the prison administration meat-free diet explaining that his religion – Islam – does not allow him to eat meat or meat products. Such diet was not provided. The Court of Appeal found that freedom of religion does not include right to adhere to a particular diet.
The applicant alleged that failure to provide meat-free diet violates his freedom of religion under article 99 of the Constitution (Satversme).
The Court retreated that freedom of religion includes right to manifest one’s religion. However, it does not protect every act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief. The Court noted that religious beliefs may be expressed through observance of religious traditions and performance of religious rituals which form a part of a particular religion. therefore they are protected under Article 9 of the Convention and Article 99 of the Constitution of Latvia. A special diet is a part of some religions and therefore is also protected by freedom of religion regardless of whether a person is in prison or not. Therefore a diet which complies with the religious beliefs of prisoner must be provided to him or her unless the particular interference is prescribed by law, serves a legitimate aim and is proportional to this aim. Thus the Court quashed the lower court’s judgment and retuned it for re-examination on merits.