ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/125/D/2312/2013

Communication

2312/2013

Submission: 2013.03.26

View Adopted: 2019.03.29

Alymbek Bekmanov and Damirbek Egemberdiev v. Kyrgyzstan

Arbitrary limitation on the freedom of religion in Kyrgyzstan, state party refused to register religions organisation

Substantive Issues
  • Effective remedy
  • Fair trial
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of religion
  • Non-discrimination
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14.1
  • Article 18.1
  • Article 18.3
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 2.3
  • Article 22.1
  • Article 22.2
Full Text

Facts

The authors are two nationals of Kyrgyzstan, and are both members of Jehovah's Witness societies within the state. They claim that the by refusing to allow the organisations to register as religious organisations with the state, Kyrgyzstan has violated their rights under articles 2(3) (a) (b), read in conjunction with article 14(1); 18(1); 18(3); 22(1); 22(2); and 26, read in conjunction with articles 18 and 22, of the Covenant.

The authors applied in 2010 for religious association status in order to protect members of their societies of Jehovah's Witnesses and to allow them to practice their religion, however this was declined. The authors then submitted applications for appeal until the matter reached the Supreme Court, which was similarly declined.

Merits

The Committee noted that in the present case, the limitations placed on the right to manifest their religious belief included registering all members, and that given the severse consequences of a refusal or registration, namely the impossibiilty of carrying out religious activities, such limitation consitutes a violation of the authors' rights under article 18(1) of the Covenant.

Similarly, regarding the author's claim under article 26 of the Covenant, the Committee referred to its longstanding jurisprudence that there must be a reasonable and objective distinction to avoid a finding of discrimination. In this case, the state party has raised no objective or reasonable grounds for distinguishing the authors' religious organisation, thereby violating their rights under article 26 of the Covenant. 

Recommendations

Pursuant to article 2(3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy. This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated, including:

  • review the SCRA refusal of the local religious organisation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the Batken Region registration application;
  • provide the authors with adequate compensation.
  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.

Implementation

The Committee requested that the state party provide an update on measures taken to give effective to its views within 180 days, or before 29 September 2019.

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