Friday, June 13, 2014

European Court Faults Russia For Dissolving Pentecostal Church

In Biblical Centre of the Chuvash Republic v. Russia, (ECHR 1st Section, June 12, 2014), the European Court of Human Rights in a Chamber Judgment held that Russia violated Art. 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) interpreted in light of Art. 11 (freedom of assembly and association) when it ordered dissolution of a Pentecostal religious organization.  In a press release, the Court summarized the facts:
The applicant is a Russian religious organisation, the Biblical Centre of the Evangelical (Pentecostal) Christians of the Chuvash Republic. Belonging to the Pentecostal movement of the Christian faith, it was registered as a religious organisation in November 1991, founding a Biblical college and Sunday school in 1996. However, following inspections of the Biblical Centre in April and May 2007, the domestic courts ruled against the applicant organisation in two sets of administrative proceedings for allowing the Centre to conduct educational activities without authorisation and for violating sanitary rules and hygienic requirements. On that basis, the Supreme Court upheld the prosecuting authorities’ claim to dissolve the applicant organisation in August 2007 and, following the dismissal of the organisation’s appeal in October 2007, it was dissolved with immediate effect.
In its decision, the Court held:
the domestic authorities have not shown that the dissolution, which undermined the very substance of the applicant organisation’s rights to freedom of religion and association, was the only option for the fulfilment of the aims they pursued.
An ACLJ press release reports on the decision.