European Court on Human Rights Wins Religious Freedom Case for Russian Scientologists
The denial of a Russian Church of Scientology’s registration has been deemed a violation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) has concluded the rejection of the Church of Scientology of Saint Petersburg’s registration is a violation of Articles 9 and 11 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Over a period of eight years, a body Russians, six of them Scientologists, made six registration requests. Each application was denied, with a different reasoning given each time.
Every refusal was debated in court, but the registration body would not budge on their decision.
The applicants then turned to ECHR for help.
The ECHR pointed out conflicts in Article 9, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and Article 11, freedom of assembly and association. The denial of the Church of Scientology’s registration was in direct conflict with these clauses.
In the end, Russia did agree they were in violation of the terms and pledged to honor the Convention.
This is the third time the ECHR has assisted the Church of Scientology in defending their religious rights. In 2007 and 2009, there were violations related to registration of churches in Moscow, Surgut, and Nizhekamsk.
Nadezhda Schemeleva, an originator of the application, gave a statement: “We hope that this decision of the European Court will help the authorities to bring the law on freedom of conscience in line with international standards. I am proud that by standing for their rights Russian Scientologists create the foundation for bigger religious freedom for all.”