Jehovah's Witnesses address European court in Strasbourg


RAPSI, 22 May 2017


The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is considered in Russia to be extremist, and whose activity is prohibited on the country's territory, complained to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe about Moscow's noncompliance with a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.


The appeal to the Strasbourg court arrived soon after the Golovin district court of Moscow in March 2004 granted the prosecutor's office's application for the dissolution of the "Religious Society of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Moscow." In June 2010, the ECHR issued a decision in favor of the organization and of four private applicants. The Strasbourg court came to the conclusion that "the decision [of the Russian court] for liquidation was not grounded in a necessary factual basis." The sum of the compensation consisted of 20 thousand Euros plus 50 thousand Euros for covering court costs.


The notification sent to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe over the signature of John Berns, an attorney of the firm W Glen How & Associates, speaks of the refusal of Russian authorities to comply with the ECHR's decision that was made and has taken effect.


"The situation now is critical," attorneys for the banned organization maintain, insisting on the urgent consideration of the matter of Moscow's evasion of the implementation of the Strasbourg decision. At the same time, the attorneys call attention to the ruling of the Supreme Court of the RF of 20 April of this year, by which the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and 395 of its local division are subject to liquidation.


The grounds for including Jehovah's Witnesses in the list of extremist organizations were numerous violations discovered in the course of inspections. Thus, among the claims against the organization on the part of the Russian Ministry of Justice are importing of forbidden literature, failure to take sufficient measures for preventing manifestations of extremism in a number of divisions, and financing of banned local religious organizations. In total, there are 95 publications of Jehovah's Witnesses that turned up on the list of extremist publications. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2017)

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