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EUROPEAN COURT - BULGARIA17523234 10209052048885562 857454608721996285 n


Source: HRWF (


Registrar of the European Court (15.06.2017) - In today's Chamber judgment in the case of Metodiev and Others v. Bulgaria (application no. 58088/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights construed in the light of Article 11 (freedom of association).

The case concerned the refusal by the authorities to register a new religious association called the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a denomination. The Court found that the sole reason given by the Supreme Court of Cassation for the refusal was the lack of a sufficiently precise and clear indication of the beliefs and rites of the Ahmadi religion in the association's constitution. The domestic court had concluded that the constitution did not meet the statutory requirements of the Religions Act, which sought to distinguish between the various religions and to avoid confrontation between religious communities.

The Court noted that the Religions Act did not contain any specific indication as to the degree of precision required when it came to describing beliefs and rites or as to what specific information should be given in the statement accompanying the registration request. The Court took the view that the approach adopted by the Court of Cassation would lead in practice to refusing registration of any new religious association having the same doctrine as an existing religion.


By JASON LE MIERE, on 4/21/17

Russia’s decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country shows the “paranoia” of Vladimir Putin’s government, according to the chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).702017119 univ lsr lg

Russia’s Supreme Court issued a verdict Thursday upholding a claim from the country’s justice ministry last month that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activity violated laws on extremism. The ruling liquidates the group’s headquarters in St. Petersburg and all 395 of its local religious organizations. Russia contains 175,000 members of the church, which first began operating in the country in 1991. Coming after six days of hearings, the decision means the Christian denomination is classified alongside terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group (ISIS).

“It’s very disappointing but frankly not very surprising,” Thomas J. Reese, chair of USCIRF told Newsweek Friday. “Russia has been cracking down on religious groups that are not supportive of the government and it’s just amazing to pick on a small group which is pacifist which doesn’t want to be involved in politics and to classify them as the same is ISIS just shows how absurd these extremism laws are in Russia.”

Reese, whose commission is charged with making recommendations to Congress, the president and the State Department, claimed that Russia’s decision was motivated by Putin’s desire for absolute control within the country, particularly at a time when his government is being attacked from the outside. [...]

Source: HRWF


HRWF (14.04.2017) – The Kremlin has threatened to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, a peaceful religious group that holds approximately 2,300 congregations throughout the country. While Russia has already erected laws criminalising the literature and proselyting work of the Witnesses, this new ban will effectively dissolve and criminalise the community as a whole under the guise of ‘extremism’. The official decision on this matter is expected to be released any day. This threat of a complete ban has received widespread condemnation across the globe; including from the European Union Representation to the OSCE, the European Union Delegation to the Council of Europe, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of opinion and expression. We have gathered the official statements of these constituencies below:

Statement of the European Union Representation to OSCE

The European Union is concerned about the latest developments regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. The decision by the Ministry of Justice to suspend the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Minister’s application to the Supreme Court to declare “extremist” the Administrative Center, to prohibit its activities, and to dissolve it marks a new stage in the harassment and the legal persecution against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.


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Many NGOs have denounced worldwide the severe persecution of the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses that is taking place in Russia.

This issue was also discussed in Italy in two important conferences held in the Chamber of Deputies, respectively organized by AIDLR (International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty) on October 26, 2016, and by CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) on March 22, 2017.

The current situation of this religious organization in Russia is heavily effected by the approval and entry into force of the controversial “Yarovaya law” that struck indiscriminately all churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church. An international chorus of voices was raised in recent months in defence of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

A new report documents over 1500 cases of illegal imprisonment of believers in 24 countries
29 December 2016unnamed
HRWF Int'l (29.12.2016) - In 2016, three countries - North Korea, China and Iran - have imprisoned thousands of believers on the grounds of laws forbidding or restricting their basic rights to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). This is the conclusion of a report of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l (Brussels) mapping 24 countries published this Thursday 29th December on its website ( 
"Prison terms are usually imposed on members of religious or belief groups on the basis of laws restricting the individual freedom to change religion and to carry out missionary activities as well as the collective freedoms of association, worship and assembly. However, members or leaders of peaceful and law-abiding religious movements are also imprisoned because of their religious identity and for any of their activities because their group has been banned or unduly denied registration, commented Willy Fautré, director of the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l."