thursday, 14 february of 2019

The State of the art of right to freedom of religion in Russia

Wilson Knoner Campos

The 6 years of detention sentencing issued last week by an Oryol Court (Russia) increases the grievous breaches of the religious freedom already impose to Dennis Christensen (Danish) by Russians authorities.

As largely reported in recent years, the Supreme Court of Justice of Russia ruled in 2017 that the Jehovah Witnesses Religion was considered an “extremist” group almost equivalent to a terrorist entity, which was suddenly followed by a “witch hunt” of members of such religion and sympathizers who practiced its doctrines.

The outlawed and ban of Jehovah Witnesses Religion Supreme Court of Russia’s ruling sparked the rising of religious persecution and resulted in the filing of many criminal cases against believers from that religion.

Though former USSR (actual Russia) abstained from voting the resolution 217 on 10 december 1948 in Paris, it later agreed among other things on the establishment of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), plus the fact that it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Such posture allows the understanding that therefore Russia must enforce human rights adopted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a milestone document. Also, it grants the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) the prerogative to receive petitions denouncing breaches of the bill adopted in the UDHR, which should be follow by measures declaring the ruling as unconventional (violates UN multilateral treaty) and illegal before UDHR, in order to pression domestic authorities to revoke the imprisonment and sentencing of Mr. Christensen under the absurd allegation of committing crime when simply exercises a right UDHR entitles him to.

Hence, the detention and late sentencing mentioned violates not only article 18 of UDHR ["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".] but also the article 9 of UDHR, which states “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile".

Time to see if OHCHR will take a step towards demanding legally binding of UDHR and other legal tools to exemplarily not only sanction Russia but to enforce all necessary means to release Dennis Christensen from illegal imprisonment due to his mere exercising of right to freedom of religion


*Wilson Knoner Campos it's a lawyer at Bertol Sociedade Advogados.

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