View Adopted: 2019.03.29
The authors are two Jehovah's Witness nationals of Turkmenistan, who claimed that the state party violated their rights under article 14 (1), (3) (d) and (e) and (5), and article 18 read in conjunction with article 26, of the Covenant.
The authors were both subjected to search, seizure and arrest by police officers, later having religious texts confiscated. The first author was sentenced to four years imprisonment for the distribution of pornography however claims this charge is fabricated. The second author was also sentenced to four years imprisonment and similarly claims that these charges are fabricated. An appeal for the second author was allowed, however when released he had completed 31 months imprisonment and his conviction was not expunged.
The authors claimed that the state party had violated their rights under article 14 (1), (3) (d) and (e) and (5) of the Covenant, as they were denied a fair trial, that is, they were tried in the absence of a lawyer, and their rights to have witnesses cross-examined, and to have their convictions reviewed by a higher court, were violated. They also claimed to be victims of a violation of article 18 in conjunction with article 26 on the basis of the fabrication of the charges - alleging these were created as means to supress their expression of their religion.
The second author also claimed that the repeated beatings and threats that he was subjected to during his detention constituted a violation of article 7 of the Covenant.
Considering the significant consequences for both authors during the sentencing, their imprisonment and the impediments to their religious activities as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Committee concluded that the authors’ rights under article 14 (1) and (3) (d) and (e) and article 18 of the Covenant have been violated. In the light of this, the Committee decided not to examine the authors’ claims under article 18 read in conjunction with article 26 of the Covenant.
The Committee further noted that on the circumstances raised by the second author relating to repeated beatings and threats revealed a violation of article 7.
Pursuant to article 2(3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including making full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is obliged to:
The Committee requested that the state party provide an update outlining measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views within 180 days, or prior to 29 September 2019.