Wednesday, April 05, 2017

UN Experts Urge Russia to Drop Extremism Suit Against Jehovah's Witnesses

Yesterday, in anticipation of today's hearing before Russia's Supreme Court, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights issued a press release urging the Russian Federation to drop a suit brought under Russia's anti-extremism legislation against all Jehovah's Witnesses congregations. According to the press release, which quotes three UN human rights experts:
"This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation...."
"The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia...." 
The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity.  
A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events.