For Immediate Release
September 20, 2010
Russian Supreme Court Sanctions Discriminatory Action
MOSCOW—On September 7, 2010, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that a publisher does not have the right to defend itself against claims that its literature is extremist. In dismissing the appeal of Wachtturm Bibel- und Traktat-Gesellschaft der Zeugen Jehovas, the German publisher of religious literature, the Judicial Chamber under Presiding Judge V.V. Gorshkov upheld the decision of Russia’s Rostov Regional Court, which had labeled 34 pieces of Christian literature published by Wachtturm as extremist. The Regional Court’s decision was rendered although Wachtturm had not been allowed to participate in the case and had not even been notified of the hearing.
The dismissal by the Russian Supreme Court exhausted all options within Russia to restore justice to publishers of literature. Armin Pikl, an attorney representing Wachtturm, noted:
“The banning of the distribution of the literature in question significantly affects the interests and rights of the publisher, which should have been able to defend itself in the face of the accusations made and to refute them. . . . This is in harmony with international provisions on the right to fair trial guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”
Along with the Local Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taganrog and others, on June 1, 2010, Wachtturm filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights requesting that the decision of Russia’s Supreme Court be overturned.