A Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Dzerzhinsky District of Volgograd (Vitimskaya Street, house No. 20). Photo by Vyacheslav Yaschenko for "Caucasian Knot"

21 April 2017, 16:50

HRW sharply condemns judgement on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

The Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights organization, has found the decision of the Russia’s Supreme Court (SC) to ban the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and local religious organizations to be a severe blow to the freedom of conscience.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 20 the Russia’s SC satisfied the request of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to liquidate as extremist all the 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. This judgement was condemned by the European Union and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The HRW has treated the judgement to ban the organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses as a frank pressure on the freedom of worship, "which deprives believers of their right to profess their religion."

According to Rachel Denber, the HRW’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia are facing a difficult choice: "to give up their faith or be punished for it."

The HRW notes that the SC’s judgement violates the principle of pluralism of opinions and convictions, which makes the basis of a democratic society.

Rights defenders further note that the Russian Federation is a member of the Council of Europe and has signed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); and, therefore, it is obliged to protect the freedom of religion and assembly.

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

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