Watchtower Ban- Russian Court Gets Under Way



Lawyers for the JWs present material that they claim may indicate political motives for the alleged persecution of JWs. However the documents are all from foreign organizations that have not investigated both sides, such as the UN, OSCE, official statements of human rights organizations, as well as archival documents.

Borisov, from the Ministry of Justice, explaining the arguments that justify the necessity of banning all organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Borisov is listing the decisions of the courts against the local religious organizations of JWs.

The Ministry of Justice has asked tbe Supreme Court to liquidate all organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, remove them from the register of legal entities and ban their activities.

A further request is for the seizure and confiscation of JWs property and that the court’s decision be executed immediately.

This was followed by ten minutes of questions by the judge about the relationship between congregations and the JW headquarters, their involvement with each other, and whether the proceedings apply to the defendants only or all JW entities.



Photo: Governing Body Mark Sanderson in attendance)





The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice a counter question: why does the Ministry of Justice ask both to liquidate the legal entity and to prohibit their activities. The judge is perplexed: how can you ban what does not exist. He clarifies whether the Ministry of Justice also demands that all unregistered groups be banned. The representative of the Ministry of Justice explains that he does not ask them to be banned, because Jehovah’s Witnesses did not provide the department with information about unregistered groups.

A new clarifying question of the judge: on what grounds does the Ministry of Justice apply a pre-judicial approach to the Management Center, if the center was not involved in participation in cases. The prejudice is applicable in the case of decisions that have already entered into force (that is, the court relies on them as already on the established fact) only with respect to the same subjects of law. Accordingly, the decisions made by the courts in respect of MPOs can not have a prejudicial effect on a centralized organization.

The representative of the Ministry of Justice argues that the Administrative Center knew about these cases, and the lawyers of the center attended them.

Claim made that JWs violate the rights of Russian citizens.

Court asks what sort of right violated.

Ministry of Justice explains medical rights. (NOTE: What was not discussed was changes to Russia’s law last year that made it an offence to discourage individuals from receiving medical treatment. As this law exists the claim of potential ‘rights violated’ has basis under law.)

Judge asks if banning JWs will cause those who ignore ban to commit offences.

Ministry of Justice replies only for those who break the law.

Discussion on the list of banned publications. Judge wants to know who reviews the list. (NOTE: Article 13 of Federal law no. 114-FZ and par. 7 of the Regulations of the Ministry of Justice assign the ministry the functions of maintaining, publishing of the Federal list of extremist material which lists JW literature.)

JWs allowed to present their case in defense and to put questions towards the Ministry of Justice.

JWs try to distance themselves from the blood prohibition by claiming the cited cases make no reverence to JWs. They then argue thst the patients decisions on treatment were personal.

JW lawyers argue that there is no ‘legal’ evidence that the literature of JWs influences people in their decisions. (This appears to be an attempt to show the banned publications did not cause anyone to follow the contents and therefore there can be no one that broke the law.)

Russian feed:

Translated page of above:

Lawyers are unsuccessfully trying to find out exactly what human rights violations are meant.

Lawyer are trying to clarify the point “the failure to take effective measures to prevent extremist activity.” He asked whether the Ministry of Justice knew about the timely letters sent by the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses to all MROs about the inclusion of certain materials in the FSEM? The Ministry of Justice knows. The next question: what, in the opinion of the Ministry, would be an effective measure? The Ministry of Justice does not know the exact answer to this question. The lawyer asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice whether there is such a criterion of extremist activity as inaction. It’s obvious to everyone that there is no such criterion.



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