Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to favorable ruling of Constitutional Court


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 14 February 2017


On 16 February 2017 the Lenin district court of the city of Voronezh will consider the case of an administrative violation of law with respect to the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is incorrectly accused of failure to notify authorities about a worship service which was held on 9 October 2016 in a rented sports complex on Voroshilov Street. On that day police invaded a worship service with a search. Believers are convinced that the case is subject to termination for lack of an administrative violation of law.


The law does not require informing authorities about prayer and religious meetings, which was finally clarified by the Constitutional Court of the Russian federation. In a ruling of 5 December 2012, the Constitutional Court, while reviewing an appeal by the commissioner for human rights filed in the interests of Jehovah's Witnesses, explained:


"The necessity to inform authorized bodies of state power or agencies of local administration about such a public religious event and to bear other burdens established by law by virtue of a single incident of occurrence outside of places especially intended for these purposes is an illegal interference of the state in the sphere of freedom of conscience, guaranteed to everyone by article 28 of the constitution of the Russian federation and recognized by article 9 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Basic Liberties, and it is a restriction of the right to freedom of assembly that is unreasonable and not required by purposes indicated in articles 17 and 55 of the constitution of the Russian federation and also in point 2 of article 11 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Basic Liberties. [. . .]


Law enforcers, including courts, while considering disputed issues relative to the necessity of informing bodies of public authority regarding the conduct of public religious events in places other than those indicated in points 1-4 of article 16 of the federal law 'On freedom of conscience and religious association,' including resolution of an issue of applying administrative responsibility for noncompliance with this requirement, should be guided by the constitution of the Russian federation and the present ruling and in any case not apply the procedure for conducting rallies, demonstrations, and processions to prayer and religious meetings conducted in nonresidential premises, if neither the religious event itself nor the location of the nonresidential premises requires of agencies of public authority the application of measures aimed at ensuring public order and the safety and tranquility of citizens" (Order of the Constitutional Court of the RF of 5 December 2012). (tr. by PDS, posted 20 February 2017)

Background articles:
Even Stalin could not wipe out Jehovah's Witnesses
January 17, 2017
Jehovah's Witnesses penalized for possession of forbidden literature
December 21, 2016

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