Rights advocacy center criticizes lawsuit against Jehovah's Witnesses


In the event the lawsuit were to be granted, Jehovah's Witnesses will be outlawed in Russia.

SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 16 March 2017


 On 15 March 2017, the Ministry of Justice of the RF sent to the Supreme Court of the RF a lawsuit for liquidation of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and prohibition of the activity of the religious organization for extremism.


The suit followed an inspection of the organization that was completed on 27 February 2017. The account of the justice ministry on the results of the inspection says that, despite the warning about the impermissibility of extremist activity, issued to the organization by the prosecutor general's office on 2 March 2016, structural subdivisions of the organization, as before, are still involved in extremist activity, violating human rights and liberties and inflicting harm on citizens, public order, and security.


We recall that on 16 January 2017, the Moscow city court found the warning of the prosecutor general's office to be legal,, thereby confirming a similar decision of the Tver district court of Moscow of 12 October 2016 and denying the Jehovah's Witnesses' appeal. A lawyer for the plaintiff declared in court that the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia did not commit any acts of an extremist character and the accusations of extremist activity by the adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses are "based on false evidence, plants of literature, and false and fabricated testimonies." The organization intends to appeal the decision of the Moscow city court in the Supreme Court and subsequently, possible, in the European Court for Human Rights.


From our point of view, liquidation of organizations of the Jehovah's Witnesses for extremism (in 2016 five local congregations in various cities were banned) and prosecution of members of their congregations and bans of texts have no legal bases and are a clear manifestation of religious discrimination. In Russia the number of adherents of Jehovah's Witnesses exceeds 100,000. In the event of a ban on the parent organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, each of them will wind up under threat of criminal prosecution for faith. Thus, Russia risks taking the path of totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union and the Third Reich, which prosecuted Jehovah's Witnesses in criminal terms all the way to lengthy terms of imprisonment in the USSR and consignment to extermination camps in nazi Germany. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 March 2017)

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