Just recently the Russian Supreme Court has rendered a decision prohibiting The Jehovah’s Witnesses from exercising its religious freedom in Russia. The decision further ordered the closing of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses 395 local chapters all over Russia.
Furthermore, the Russian Supreme Court has directed the confiscation of the property owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.
The ruling of the Supreme Court of Russia has stemmed from the request of the Russian Ministry of Justice to declare this religious organization as an extremist group due to the refusal of its members to render military services and to allow any of its religious members to have blood transfusion.
For the past several years, the Jehovah’s Witnesses face increasing pressure inside Russia when it was banned to distribute its religious literature as being in violation of the Russian anti-extremism law.
There are around 170,000 religious members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses all over Russia. The counsel for the Russian Ministry of Justice has said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the right of the citizens, public order and public security.”
Russian Supreme Court Ruling Violates Article 18 Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights
Russia is a party and signatory to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights or the UDHR. Being a party to this Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Russia has an international obligation to observe, implement and enforce the UNDR within its territory as part of the law of the land.
Such being the case the recent decision banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses to profess and exercise its religious freedom is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Furthermore, this recent decision of the Russian Supreme Court has created a bad precedent since from now on the Russian Supreme Court has the power to declare
and ban any religion in Russia as an extremist group. It could further declare its property to be confiscated in the process.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is very clear and straight forward, to quote:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Therefore, there is no legal or constitutional argument that the decision of the Russian Supreme Court has violated Article 19 of the United Declaration on Human Rights.
According to the Russian spokesman of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Yaroslav Sivulskiy they will appeal the ruling of the Russian Supreme Court and they are very disappointed with this recent development and that they are very concerned as to how this recent ruling will going to affect their activity.
This recent ruling has far-reaching legal consequences not only to the members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses but to all persons who are members of any religion for that matter.
The ruling is indeed a big blow to the humanity’s march towards greater freedom and liberty from any governmental control with regards to one’s exercise and enjoyment of religious freedom.
It is hope that the appellate court or any International Tribunal where the Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal its case will eventually reverse and set aside the decision of the Russian Supreme Court.
Image source: http://www.glennbeck.com/2016/03/26/religious-freedom-the-four-part-series/