European court demands that Russia account for imprisonment of Jehovah's Witness


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 17 November 2017


In November 2017 we learned that on 4 September the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) communicated the appeal of Danish citizen Dennis Ole Christensen, who was accused of arranging the activity of an extremist organization, the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Orel (part 1 of article 282 of the Criminal Code) and is held in prison.


Christensen was arrested on 25 May 2017 and the next day was placed in detention. In an appeal filed in the E.C.H.R. he indicated that he thinks the detention and likely conviction as guilty to be an illegal, unjustified, and disproportionate infringement of his right to confess a religion jointly with others and also that he has been the object of discrimination on the basis of religious confession. He also noted that Russian courts were not able to provide a rationale for his arrest that is sufficient and relevant to the case.


The E.C.H.R. requested that Russia explain whether there had been a violation of article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights protecting freedom of conscience in and of itself or in conjunction with article 14 of the Convention, which prohibits discrimination. In addition, the Russian side will have to answer the question whether the detention is based on reasons that are sufficient and relevant to the case.


We consider the prosecution of Christensen to be illegal. The local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Orel was recognized as extremist in 2016 and the Russian Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the provincial court. However we consider that the liquidation of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses for extremism and prosecution of members of their congregations and bans of their texts do not have any legal grounds and are a clear manifestation of religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2017)

Background article"
Danish Jehovah's Witness loses in court again
September 30, 2017

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