Human Rights Council 40th session – 5th March 2019
Item 3: Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion and the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children
wish to share with the Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief their deep concern about violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in the Russian Federation.
There is abundant objective and empirical evidence of major violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief by the state. There is also an obvious trend of social hostility: an increasingly dangerous atmosphere of religious intolerance regarding minority faiths, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of the Church of Scientology, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, Muslims, followers of Said Nursi, Falun Gong practitioners, and others.
On 6 February last, after more than 20 months spent in pre-trial detention, the Jehovah Witness Dennis Christensen was sentenced to 6 years in prison for leading the religious service of a banned “extremist” organization.
The Council of Europe, the European Union, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many others unambiguously condemned the sentencing of Dennis Christensen as well as the prosecution of 121 Jehovah’s Witnesses currently under criminal investigation.
Peaceful Muslim communities and others have also come under pressure from “anti-terrorism” legislation and practices.
We urge the Russian government to show greater respect for its international legal human rights obligations concerning freedom of religion or belief.
And we want the Russian Federation to establish a dialogue about these aforementioned issues with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.