UN rights chief ‘deeply concerned’ over Jehovah’s Witness sentencing in Russia

UN Photo/Laura Jarriel Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks to the press at UN Headquarters in New York.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

The sentencing in Russia of a Danish Jehovah’s Witness on Thursday to six years in prison on charges of “organising the activity of a banned extremist organisation” has been described as a “dangerous precedent” by the UN human rights chief.

Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that she was deeply concerned by the sentencing of Dennis Christensen, who was first detained in May 2017, a month after Russia’s Supreme Court declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses – a United States-headquartered Christian denomination – an extremist group.

According news reports, the group numbers around 170,000 followers in Russia, with around eight million adherents worldwide. They are known for proselytising their faith door-to-door, detailed bible study and among the rules of membership are a rejection of blood transfusions, however serious the medical need, an a refusal to take part in military service.

“Criminal cases have since then been opened against more than 100 members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including at least 18 who are held in pre-trial detention,” said Ms. Bachelet, in a statement. “Others have been subjected to various measures of restraint, including house arrest and travel restrictions”, she added.Christensen was accused of continuing to organize and work on behalf of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Oryol, several hundred miles south of Moscow, despite knowing that the group had been outlawed by the State.

The UN rights chief said that the “harsh sentence imposed on Christensen creates a dangerous precedent, and effectively criminalises the right to freedom of religion or belief, for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia – in contravention of the State’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

“Various UN human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee and a number of UN Special Rapporteurs, have raised similar concerns in recent years.”

The Russian Supreme Court has ordered the Jehovah’s Witnesses to disband nationwide, and his arrest and sentencing, sets a clear precedent for other adherents who are being held, and awaiting sentencing, according to news reports. Christiansen had pleaded his innocence, stating that he was exercising his freedom of religion, guaranteed under Russia’s constitution.

“We urge the Government of Russia to revise the Federal Law on Combating Extremist Activity with a view to clarifying the vague and open-ended definition of ‘extremist activity’, and ensuring that the definition requires an element of violence or hatred”, said Ms. Bachelet.

“We also call on the authorities to drop charges against and to release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of religion or belief, the freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”







the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This new way of understanding disease is changing medicine

Why private investment in deforestation-free commodity production needs to be scaled up

Secretary-General repeats call for support to Lake Chad countries after latest Boko Haram attack

Mental health and suicide: when the alarm bells are faced with deaf ears

In wake of ‘collapsed’ agreement, new wave of violence threatens millions in Syria’s Idlib

The growing cyber-risk to our electricity grids – and what to do about it

Here’s what happened when one Guatemalan town went to war on plastic waste

This is the world’s greenest football club – and you’ve probably never even heard of it

4 key steps towards a circular economy

Tobacco-free Public Space in Africa’s Most Populous Country

How to stop plastic pollution at source

Young people meet in Malta to shape the future of Europe

The staggering loss of the Arctic Ocean’s oldest sea ice shown in time-lapse

Siege of Syria’s eastern Ghouta ‘barbaric and medieval’, says UN Commission of Inquiry

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

How do you get people to trust self-driving vehicles? This company is giving them ‘virtual eyes’

Is the ECB ready to flood Eurozone with freshly printed money?

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

‘No country, no region’ can tackle global challenges alone says UN’s Mohammed

Free trade agreement between EU and India?

Britain, EU take edgy steps to unlock Brexit talks as the war of words rages

Africa-Europe Alliance: European Commission committed to a sustainable African agri-food sector

The 5 mistakes we’re making in the fight against global energy poverty

Africa: Urgent action needed to mobilise domestic resources as tax revenues plateau

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

For how long and at what cost can the ECB continue printing trillions to keep euro area going?

Ferry capsizes near Mosul, UN chief offers solidarity, support ‘as needed’

Why we need to redefine trust for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Zeid calls for ICC probe into Myanmar Rohingya crisis

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

Parliament approves €34m in EU aid to Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria

Farmers on the frontline in battle against drug-resistant microbes: UN health agency

Parliament pushes for cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

FIFA and UN kick off healthy living campaign, to harness global game’s ‘huge potential’

Access to health in the developped and developing world

Why a healthy planet and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand

EU budget: Commission helps prepare new Cohesion programmes with Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer

The Catcher in the Rice

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: MEPs demand action to protect citizens’ privacy

EU Budget 2020 conciliation talks suspended

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

Drawing scenarios for drifting Britain; elections or May’s deadlock?

The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Court of Auditors: EU budget money is there to be spent not to create value

18th European Forum on Eco-innovation live from Barcelona: What’s next for eco-labelling?

Protecting European consumers: toys and cars on top of the list of dangerous products

Three things Nigeria must do to end extreme poverty

OK computer: why the machine age still needs humans

Human rights on film: International festival celebrates mobile phone films for a cause

South Eurozone countries threatened by rising borrowing cost and expensive euro

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’ will be squandered, warns Guterres, unless social, economic, environmental challenges are met

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

This is what a smart city should do for its people

“The Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote peace, development and stability”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from European Business Summit 2018

G20 starts to tackle inequality

Opening – EP remembers Nelson Mandela and mourns attacks on Roma in Ukraine

‘Air bridge’ vaccination operation begins for Ebola-hit communities in DR Congo

EU Summit consumed by the banks

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s