There were no reports of abuses of religious freedom. However, the government imposed restrictions that affected members of minority religious groups.
The requirement that religious groups have at least 20,000 adult adherents to be eligible to register with the government disadvantaged smaller groups. Smaller groups functioned, in some cases, by registering as civic associations to carry out activities requiring a legal status, but remained in legal limbo, which at times created difficulty gaining access to their clergy and other resources. Clergy from unregistered religious groups could not minister to their members in prisons or government hospitals and religious weddings conducted by unregistered groups were not legally valid. Funeral operators occasionally prevented representatives from unregistered religious groups from performing burial ceremonies.
The law requiring burial no sooner than 48 hours after death affected religious groups whose traditions mandated an earlier burial.
Religion class curricula did not mention unregistered groups or some of the smaller registered groups.
The government required public broadcasters to allocate airtime for registered religious groups, but not for unregistered groups.
The government continued discussions with stakeholders about property restitution and changes in the funding of churches and religious groups. In January Culture Ministry officials met with representatives of religious groups to discuss a future mechanism for funding, after an “expert commission” produced a new model of state funding for registered groups. Registered religious groups, especially the Catholic Church, continued to identify property restitution as a precondition to transitioning toward greater separation between church and state, including diminution of state funding.
Religious groups continued to apply for the return of property confiscated by the former communist government under a 1993 restitution law that specified a filing deadline of December 31, 1994. The government, municipalities, state legal entities, and, under certain conditions, private persons, returned property in its existing condition. Some of the properties returned were in poor condition. The law did not provide compensation for the damage done to these properties under the communist regime, and religious groups often lacked the funds to restore these properties to a usable state.
According to the Culture Ministry, it was difficult to estimate the number of confiscated properties not yet returned because the cases involved a large number of legal entities, including thousands of parishes or religious orders. The Slovak Bishops’ Conference estimated the state had returned approximately 35 percent of Catholic Church property. In December the expert commission agreed to compile a list of unresolved property cases.
The religious group Christian Fellowship continued efforts begun in 2007 to secure registration. In September the Supreme Court overturned for a second time the ministry’s decision to deny registration. The culture ministry asserted that it appropriately denied the application because groups seeking registration must, by law, not promote religious intolerance or impede the rights of others. The ministry further stated that the group “promoted hateful ideas toward other religious groups.” The registration process continued at year’s end.
In September the Supreme Court rejected the Church of Faith’s appeal of the denial of its registration, which was rejected by the Culture Ministry in 2011. In May the prosecutor dismissed the criminal complaint filed by the ministry after it concluded that the majority of the 21,500 signatures in the application were forged and that the Church of Faith was a front for the Christian Fellowship.
The government-supported Nation’s Memory Institute (UPN) provided access to previously undisclosed records of the regimes in power from 1939 until 1989. The Jewish community continued to accuse the UPN of treating favorably or supporting the rehabilitation of public officials active during the World War II era. In October the UPN organized a conference to present a publication about the World War II figure Jan Ferencik, emphasizing his persecution during the communist regime and downplaying his activities during World War II and his admiration for Adolf Hitler.