ECHR rules on complaints by Russia’s Jehovah's Witnesses

Strasbourg, June 9, 2022

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regards Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses as a violation of the Convention on Human Rights, reports Interfax Religion. The Jehovah’s Witnesses is banned in the Russian Federation as an extremist organization.

The Strasbourg Court has decided on 20 combined complaints of 1,444 applicants—organizations, individual participants of “Jehovah's Witnesses”—and found a violation on the part of the authorities of the Russian Federation against the defendants, including in connection with the liquidation of the “Management Center of Jehovah's Witnesses”, Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), articles 10 (freedom of expression), articles 11 (freedom of assembly).

A violation of article 5 of the Convention (right to personal integrity) was also found.

"The court ruled (...) that Russia must take all necessary measures to stop the criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses and release those who are in custody," the ECHR said in a statement.

On April 6, 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia began considering the merits of the claim of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation on the recognition of the “Management Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” as an extremist organization. The representative of the Ministry named the reasons why the agency demands to liquidate the organization and ban its activities on the territory of the country, according to a news article from that year on

Around the same time, when members of the Jehovah's Witnesses were packing the Russian Supreme Court with claims of political repression, they were not recognized as subject to such repression.

The main claims by the Russian Ministry of Justices against the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the refusal of blood transfusion and the distribution of prohibited literature. The first, according to the Ministry of Justice, violates the right of citizens to unhindered medical care, the second poses a threat to the security of the country.

Citing oral explanations on her claim in the Supreme Court of Russia, the representative of the Ministry Svetlana Borisova said that the lawsuit asking for a ban on the central organization of Jehovah's Witnesses was filed in order to “strengthen the rule of law and prevent violations of the interests of public order and security, as well as to prevent extremist activities.” She noted that the ban on blood transfusions professed by Jehovah's Witnesses would create a threat to human life and health in some cases.

The representative of the Ministry of Justice noted that this conclusion was reached back in 1999 by a religious studies examination of the Watchtower magazine. Subsequently, the magazine was recognized as extremist literature and banned.

Precedents included a St. Petersburg court order to a local hospital to give an eight-year-old girl a needed blood transfusion. The girl’s father, a Jehovah’s Witness, was obstructing the doctors from administering the transfusion.

The Strasbourg Court, however, concluded that “the definition of ‘extremism’ was excessively broad in Russian legislation and was improperly used to persecute believers or religious ministers solely on the basis of their beliefs."

The court also ordered various payments to the applicants: 15 thousand euros for each person who was prosecuted, 7.5 thousand for those who came under administrative prosecution, as well as liquidated organizations and communities, at least 1,000 euros for the rest of the applicants as compensation for moral damage—a total of more than 3 million euros.

In addition, the ECHR decision notes that the respondent state must pay 125 thousand euros to all applicants in connection with court costs.

The court also decided that the seized property must be returned to the applicants, and in case of non-return to pay the amounts determined by the decision within three months from the date of its entry into force.

The RF State Duma has adopted a law according to which the decisions of the ECHR made after March 15, 2022—that is, after the termination of the powers of the Russian Federation in the Council of Europe—are not enforceable in Russia. Therefore, the Russian Federation will not be enforcing the ECHR’s ruling.

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See also
The Russian Ministry of Justice vs. the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia: an Eyewitness Account The Russian Ministry of Justice vs. the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia: an Eyewitness Account The Russian Ministry of Justice vs. the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia: an Eyewitness Account The Russian Ministry of Justice vs. the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia: an Eyewitness Account
Igor Kondrashev
The situation was rather intense, because over 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses who were present at the session had to listen to evidence from four of their former co-religionists who showed the other side of the organization’s inner life. As we know, Jehovah’s Witnesses are strictly forbidden to communicate with so-called “apostates”—former members of the sect whose activities are directed against the organization.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses Do Not Need a Search for the Truth” “Jehovah’s Witnesses Do Not Need a Search for the Truth”
Priest George Maximov
“Jehovah’s Witnesses Do Not Need a Search for the Truth” “Jehovah’s Witnesses Do Not Need a Search for the Truth”
Interview with Artem Grigoryan, a former long-standing member of Jehovah's Witnesses
Priest George Maximov, Artem Grigoryan
In association with the Russian SPAS (Savior) TV channel, Pravoslavie.Ru has begun publishing a series of remarkable stories about our contemporaries who embraced the true faith after following various false teachings.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Jehovah’s Witnesses
Fr. Alexey Young
Jehovah’s Witnesses Jehovah’s Witnesses
Fr. Alexey Young
Anyone who has had more than a passing encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses would find it hard to disagree. Their arguments appear so tightly constructed as to be virtually unassailable. Even if one is left unconquered, the experience is frustrating. Is this a no-win situation?
Panagiotis6/13/2022 2:22 am
Paula: Thank You. At the end of many of my posts, I often put a statement about the ecumenical nonsense movement, regardless of whether it applies or not to the articles or my aforementioned posts. I also like to remind people about the monster communists and the no good liberals, again regardless of whether it applies or not to that particular article or my posts..... Just my humble opinion.
Paula6/11/2022 2:37 am
Panagiotis, you need to read up on JW's! They are not an "ecumenical nonsense movement" they are a religious cult. It's only partly based on the Bible, using biblical character names etc makes it seem "Christian" but the more you look into it the less similarities you find between any of the Christian sects and Jehovah's witnesses.
Billy6/10/2022 11:15 am
@Fr Bill Bauer. Wise words.
Panagiotis6/10/2022 2:43 am
Our people have been Orthodox Christians long before the second hand protestant churches started, and the descendants of the second hand protestant churches started. Why do they want to come to Orthodox countries? Why don't they go to other lands where the people are not Christian? Our Orthodox Faith is the True faith, and I do not need anyone telling me anything about their religion. We are the Original Church and the True Church, and if others do not like what I say then too bad! God bless the Russian Orthodox, the Georgian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Serbian Orthodox, and others who speak the truth about non-Orthodox groups who come into our lands....... I remember when I was a child, the Jehovah Witnesses came knocking on our door. My mother answered the door as my father was at work. She did not understand too well the language they were speaking. They gave my mom a book or some literature or something like this. My mom called the Priest and told him what happened. The Priest's reply was "THROW THE BOOK IMMEDIATELY INTO THE GARBAGE!" ....The Orthodox Bible is the original Bible, and the original Bible was written in Greek! Our people do not need books or literature from anyone . Our people were Orthodox Christians long before some of the Western Europeans, who were pagans or barbarians or druids, etc. Now this European Court in Strasbourg and others have guts to tell our Orthodox People what to do. What a joke!..... Orthodox Lands must remain Orthodox so we will remain strong. Look at the countries that have a multitude of different religions, and different groups within a religion, without one group being the clear majority , and you will see that many of these lands appear to be weak. Let us remain strong, let us remain conservative, let us reject no good liberalism , and let us reject the ecumenical nonsense movement!.... Just my humble opinion.
Fr William Bauer PhD6/9/2022 7:08 pm
In the end time, we will be told that bad is good and that good is bad.
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