Russia continued to crack down on Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2022, the group stated, sentencing 45 members of the motion to jail, a 40% enhance over the 32 sentenced in 2021. A complete of 115 Witnesses are in Russian prisons, the best quantity since 2017. Court docket of Russia a call that successfully banned the group.
Nineteen of these prisoners are over 60 years previous, with 71-year-old Borid Andreev from Primorye Territory the oldest. Disabled Jehovah’s Witness Andrey Vlasov obtained a seven-year sentence, regardless of struggling “to handle each day actions with out help,” the group stated.
Police searched 200 houses of members in 39 Russian places, the Witnesses reported. Greater than 1,800 houses have been searched prior to now 5 years, with greater than 670 Witnesses going through expenses or felony investigations.
The sentences and imprisonment proceed regardless of a judgment of the European Court docket of Human Rights, which ordered Russia to raise its ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, launch all jailed group members and drop additional prosecutions.
The ECHR additionally ordered Russia to pay $67.3 million in damages for confiscated property and non-monetary damages. Russia left the Council of Europe in March and severed its relationship with the European Conference on Human Rights in September.
Nonetheless, Council of Europe Secretary Common Marija Pejcinovic Buric on December 9 wrote to Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov stating Russia “stays below a binding worldwide authorized obligation” to implement the ECHR selections.
Russia stays on the State Division’s checklist of Nations of Particular Concern partially due to its therapy of the Witnesses.
Different worldwide observers slammed the Russian assaults on the group.
“Russia now marks a brand new milestone of shame,” Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, stated in an announcement. “Nobody ought to spend a second being prosecuted, not to mention in jail, for the peaceable expression of their non secular beliefs.”
Members of america Fee on Worldwide Non secular Freedom famous the state of affairs of the Witnesses in Russiawith Commissioner Sharon Kleinbaum saying there is no such thing as a attainable justification for his or her imprisonment.
“This 12 months, Russia has continued its inexplicable and increasing persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, with extra Witnesses than ever behind bars and going through lengthy jail phrases for merely practising their beliefs,” stated Ms. Kleinbaum. “The Russian authorities should finish its follow of falsely labeling non secular teams ‘extremist’ and permit freedom of faith or perception for all.”
Jehovah’s Witness spokesman Jarrod Lopes stated through e-mail: “Russia misuses its anti-extremism laws to ban, imprison and typically beat and torture Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s arduous to consider that this thinly veiled oppression has continued for greater than 5 years.”