E.C.H.R. communicates appeal 395 Russian congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, banned in Russia on charge of extremism
Russia Religion News/ Portal Credo (29.05.2018) – https://www2.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/180529a.html – Local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia have appealed against the discriminatory decision to ban their activity in the Russian Federation and the violation of their rights to fair judicial proceedings, the SOVA Center for News and Analysis reports on 29 May.
On 7 May, the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) communicated the 15 January appeal of the Glazov and another 394 local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and their chairmen and rank and file members. The appeal pertains to the decision rendered on 20 April 2017 by the Russian Supreme Court banning the activity of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and local congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist and liquidating all of these organizations and converting their property in the government’s favor. The plaintiffs challenge this decision as discriminatory and in addition point out that the Russian court did not afford them the opportunity to participate in hearings of the case regarding prohibition.
In connection with the appeal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations, the E.C.H.R. set before the Russian authorities questions regarding whether the decision to liquidate the organization of the plaintiffs and ban their activity violates article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to freedom of conscience, and article 11 of the convention, ensuring the right to freedom of assembly and association and, in conjunction with article 14, forbidding discrimination. The Strasbourg court also asked whether article 1 of the Supplementary Protocol to the European convention had been violated, according to which nobody can be deprived of his property for reasons other than the interests of society and on conditions provided by law and general principles of international law. In addition the E.C.H.R. asked whether there are violations of part 1 of article 6 of the convention, which guarantees the right to just judicial proceedings, by denying the plaintiffs their request for participating in the judicial process, which involves the ban of their organizations as extremist, in the capacity of an interested party, and also in denying the consideration of the appeals filed by them against the decision of the Supreme Court.
In December 2017, the E.C.H.R. partially communicated and promised to consider on a priority basis an appeal of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and its chairman, Vasily Kalin, challenging the warning regarding the impermissibility of extremist activity issued to the Administrative Center by the prosecutor general’s office in March 2016 and also the decision of the Supreme Court banning the organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the RF.
“From our point of view, the liquidation of the organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses for extremism, the prosecution of members of their congregations, and bans of texts do not have legal bases and are a clear manifestation of religious discrimination,” the SOVA Center for News and Analysis summed up. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 May 2018)
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