9 May 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Human Rights Committee finds former prisoners' rights violated

The UN Human Rights Committee found Turkmenistan wrongly jailed three Jehovah's Witnesses for having religious literature, being at a religious meeting, and conscientious objection to military service respectively. The Foreign Ministry claimed to Forum 18 the country is working with the Human Rights Committee, but put the phone down when asked whether Committee Decisions would be implemented. [read more...]

7 May 2019

RUSSIA: 159 "anti-missionary" prosecutions in 2018 - list

Forum 18 has found 159 prosecutions in all of 2018 (56 of organisations and 103 of individuals) for violating Russia's July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26 "anti-missionary" restrictions. 132 of the 2018 prosecutions resulted in initial convictions (129 fines). 2018 saw a conviction rate of 90 per cent, compared with an 82 per cent conviction rate in the year from July 2016. Three foreigners were ordered deported, and one of the deportations was overturned on appeal). [read more...]

6 May 2019

RUSSIA: 159 known "anti-missionary" prosecutions in 2018

At least 56 organisations and 103 individuals faced prosecution in 2018 under the 2016 "anti-missionary" legal changes. Lawyer Mikhail Frolov warns prosecutions have a chilling effect. "Believers don't understand what they can and can't do, and because of heavy fines they don't want to take the risk and therefore significantly reduce their activity, especially in public." [read more...]

1 May 2019

AZERBAIJAN: Supreme Court rejects conscientious objectors' appeals

Two Jehovah's Witnesses – given one-year suspended prison terms and living under restrictions for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience – failed to overturn their criminal convictions at the Supreme Court in April. Shia Imam Sardar Babayev, jailed for leading Muslim worship after gaining religious education outside Azerbaijan, awaits a European Court of Human Rights decision. [read more...]

29 April 2019

UZBEKISTAN: Supreme Court challenge to student hijab ban

Two women are awaiting Supreme Court hearings in their challenges to the ban on female students wearing hijab in Tashkent's International Islamic Academy and its secondary school. The Academy expelled Luiza Muminjanova in 2018, while Abdukakharova was allowed back after appealing. The state created the state-run Academy in 2018 from pre-existing state-run Muftiate and state institutions. [read more...]

25 April 2019

UZBEKISTAN: Bloggers jailed for criticising Muftiate

Muslim bloggers Tulkun Astanov and Rustambek Karimov face criminal charges launched by the SSS secret police, which still holds Karimov. The two completed 15-day jail terms on 23 April, but only Astanov was freed the following day. They were jailed the same day Deputy Chief Mufti Mansur accused them of being "hooligans" and disrespectful to Muftiate "spiritual leadership". [read more...]

24 April 2019

CRIMEA: Residents "don't believe" FSB allegations against imam

Crimean Tatar imam Rustem Abilev is in two-month pre-trial detention as the Russian FSB investigates him on criminal charges of calling publicly for "extremism". Residents "don't believe the FSB allegations", says journalist Taras Ibragimov. Renat Suleimanov, a Muslim jailed for four years in January for alleged membership of Tabligh Jamaat, lost his appeal at Russia's Supreme Court. [read more...]

18 April 2019

KAZAKHSTAN: 18 prisoners of conscience, 11 restricted freedom sentences

In addition to one Muslim on trial in Shymkent, 18 individuals are known to be currently jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. All are Sunni Muslim men. A further 11 are serving restricted freedom sentences. A further 12 are under post-jailing bans on specific activity. A further 29 who have completed sentences still have their bank accounts blocked. [read more...]