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Judges: can they be freemasons?

The European Court of Human Rights has delivered three judgements related to individuals who claimed discrimination against them for being masons.

N.F. v. Italy (2001) and Maestri v. Italy (2004)

An Italian judge who became a freemason in 1991, he left in 1992 upon hearing of inquiries by state prosecutors into the activities of the Grande Oriente dItalia di Palazzo Giustiniani. In June 1994 disciplinary proceedings were brought against him in connection with his masonic links and he was reprimanded for having undermined the prestige of the judiciary. His appeal to the Court of Cassation was dismissed.

The ECHR said that the terms of a 1990 directive were not sufficiently clear for him to realise that a magistrate joining a masonic lodge could face disciplinary action. Since the sanction was not foreseeable or prescribed by law it found a violation of Article 11 the freedom of association. He was awarded 24,000 in damages and legal expenses.

In the Maestri case, the president of the La Spezia District Court was also reprimanded in disciplinary proceedings for having been a freemason. He complained of having had his right to freedom of thought, expression and association (Articles 9, 10, and 11) breached; but the ECHR considered only the claim under article 11 and found a violation, because as in N.F. the national regulation on which the disciplinary measure was based did not have a basis in domestic law and failed to satisfy the conditions of accessibility and foreseeability.The wording of the directive prescribing the sanction was not sufficiently clear and foreseeable to enable the applicant, to realise that his membership of a Masonic lodge could lead to sanctions being imposed on him.

Grande Orient dItalia v. Italy (2007)

The ECHR found a breach of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 11 (freedom of association) because the Marche region enacted a law requiring candidates to public offices for the regional government, to declare whether they were freemasons. The absence of a declaration was grounds for refusing appointment. The ECHR said that since freemasonry was singled out there might be other secret sects that run counter to the rules of democracy there as no objective and reasonable justification for this difference in treatment.

However this judgement includes two important principles: that under Article 11, prohibiting freemasons from public offices may not be necessary in a democratic society; but that this could be justifiable when pursuing the legitimate aim of protecting national security and preventing disorder.

History of freemasonry in Malta

The Lodge of St John and St Paul, which first met in Hope Tavern on South Street, Valletta, continues to this day as the oldest masonic lodge in Malta. Freemasons totalled 1,484 by 1914 across seven lodges some of them still persisting to this day.

In Malta there are lodges working under the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta (SGLOM), the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the United Grand Lodge of England. Altogether there are some 400 members.

The St John and St Paul, and the De Rohan Lodge (1998) work under the UGLE.

After the departure of the British colonial forces, further lodges were created: the Count Roger of Normandy (1988), the Fenici Lodge (1991), and the De Rohan Lodge (1998).

In 2004, the Irish lodges the Leinster (1851), Abercorn (1899) and Fenici (1999) resolved to join a Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta, with the Abercorn remaining a subordinate lodge.

After the creation of the SGLM, several subordinate lodges were created: the Hospitaliers (2004), Ars Discendi (2005), Flos Mundi (2005), White Sea (2010), Mare Nostrvm (2011), Utopia (2013), and the Spartaco Mennini (2013) commemorating one of Italys more known freemasons.

Source: Malta Today

Publicado por:

Diario Masónico

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