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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

AZERBAIJAN: "No objection" to limited worship, but no legal right

After 25 years, Aliabad's Baptist community, denied legal status the longest, finally began open worship in January. The State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations wrote that it had "no objection" to meetings once a week for two hours. Shia Imam Sardar Babayev, freed after a three-year sentence for preaching in a mosque with foreign education, will not resume preaching for fear of renewed criminal prosecution.

TURKEY: Constitutional Court judgment on Armenian Patriarchal election – a precedent?

Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled in May 2019 that state interference in the election to replace the ailing Armenian Patriarch was not prescribed by law and not necessary in a democratic society. The precedent is relevant for similar cases over interference in the internal affairs of other religious communities, particularly those the state considers Lausanne Treaty minorities. But any impact remains to be seen.

TURKMENISTAN: Raids, fines for religious meetings

Police in Dashoguz raided two Protestant home meetings in February. During one raid, officers threatened to take away the host's grandchildren and have other participants sacked from work. The host was fined nearly a week's average wage. Another home owner in Lebap Region was similarly fined for hosting a Christmas celebration. Officials in Lebap Region banned state employees from attending Friday prayers in mosques.

RUSSIA: Impunity for officials who torture?

No officials accused in three cases of torture of individuals detained for exercising freedom of religion or belief appear to have been arrested or put on criminal trial. Prison officials in Blagoveshchensk between 2015 and 2017 oversaw the torture of Yevgeny Kim, which included broken ribs and attempted rape. Investigators in Surgut in February 2019 hooded, kicked, beat and tortured seven Jehovah's Witnesses with electric shocks.

TAJIKISTAN: Fines, torture for hijab-wearing, fines for Bible translation

Around 20 Muslim women were detained in a Dushanbe street for wearing a hijab, with some being fined. One, Nilufar Rajabova, stated that she was also tortured at a police station. Elsewhere, Christians were given large fines for arranging a Bible translation into Tajik.

CRIMEA: "Unjustifiable to jail someone for reading the Bible"

Jehovah's Witness Sergei Filatov was today sentenced to six years' jail with an additional five years' additional restrictions, and his co-believer Artyom Gerasimov was in a separate trial fined about two years' average salary. "I'm outraged, because it is unjustifiable to jail someone for reading the Bible," Filatov told Forum 18 before the sentence.

BELARUS: Jehovah's Witness fights extradition to Russia

Nikolai Makhalichev, a 35-year-old Russian Jehovah's Witness, is in Investigation Prison in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk as Belarus considers whether to accede to Russia's request for his extradition. Russia is investigating him on two criminal charges carrying up to ten and eight years' imprisonment to punish him for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Jehovah's Witness activity is legal in Belarus.

CRIMEA: Six months in Russian prison punishment cell

In January, Crimean Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov completed six months in Russian labour camp punishment cell for an alleged conflict with another prisoner. He was then transferred to the camp's strict section. Suleimanov's lawyer insists the accusation was fabricated to punish his client. On 3 and 5 March, verdicts are expected in criminal cases against Jehovah's Witnesses Artyom Gerasimov and Sergei Filatov.