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

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

How this one change can help people fight poverty

South Sudan’s foreseen genocide: from “Never Again” to “Again and Again and Again”?

UN chief pays tribute to ‘enduring contributions’ to regional, international diplomacy of Oman’s late Sultan Qaboos

IQ scores have been falling for decades, new study finds

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

How two colossal Assyrian icons were recreated using digital tech

New rules for temporary border controls within the Schengen area

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

Your next pair of sneakers could be made from coffee

UN agency chiefs condemn Saudi-coalition led air strike that killed dozens in western Yemen

Instability in Africa’s Sahel, spreading outwards, Security Council told

The UK referendum has already damaged Europe: even a ‘remain’ result is not without cost to Britain and the EU

Prolonged economic crisis and drought demands urgent response for Zimbabwe’s ‘hardest hit’: UN relief chief

Four million Syrian children have only known war since birth: UNICEF

Guatemala: UN anti-corruption body will continue working, as Constitutional Court blocks Government expulsion

We need to talk about how we define responsibility online – and how we enforce it

How COVID-19 could open the door for driverless deliveries

International community makes important progress on the tax challenges of digitalisation

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

France: New labour laws for more competitiveness

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

Impact Investment needs global standards and better measurement

European Parliament strengthens EU consumer protection rules

Meet the Seed Warrior: the man on a mission to rescue India’s rice diversity

The Novel Coronavirus: The Truth against the Myths

We have a space debris problem. Here’s how to solve it

EP stands up for democracy in Hungary during COVID-19

Streaming music isn’t as green as you might think. Here’s why

Winter 2019 Economic Forecast: growth moderates amid global uncertainties

Protecting refugees in Europe: UNHCR calls for a ‘year of change’

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

Million across Yemen ‘just a step away from famine’, with food available but inaccessible

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

What my transgender child can teach us about the workforce of the future

Yemen: Tackling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis

This is how Britain saved some of its most precious wildlife from the threat of extinction

Boris as UK Premier to be cornered if attempting a no-deal Brexit

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention

The art of care goes beyond borders: one has to understand the individual as a whole

In this ‘wildland’ farm in Britain, species thrive and yields are high

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

Security Council urged to help spare Syrians from ‘devastation’

We must treat cybersecurity as a public good. Here’s why

The five stages of the Chief Digital Officer – and why they often fail

Mozambique’s Beira city ‘returning to life’, elsewhere UN teams assess damage, deliver assistance

At UN, Cuba slams US ‘criminal’ practices undermining country’s development

EU finally to extend sanctions on Russia despite arguments; Greece again in Europe’s spotlight

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

In aftermath of Libya airstrike deaths, UN officials call for refugees and migrants to be freed from detention

Twenty days that may remold the future of Europe

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

My Mothers

America’s student debt crisis explained

G20 LIVE: “Our response needs to be robust…otherwise we will only find the fire we are trying to put out”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon just lit up G20 in Antalya Turkey

Building social good – lessons from an Asian giant

These are the countries that eat the most meat

Google succumbs unconditionally to EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling

More Stings?

Advertising

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