ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/126/D/2417/2014

Communication

2417/2014

Submission: 2014.05.12

View Adopted: 2019.07.25

Sergey Geller v. Kazakhstan

Arbitrary limitation on the freedom of religion in Kazakhstan, state party unable to provide justification

Substantive Issues
  • Exhaustion of domestic remedies
  • Freedom of religion
  • Non-discrimination
Relevant Articles
  • Article 18.1
  • Article 18.3
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 2.1
  • Article 26
  • Article 27
  • Article 3
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
Full Text

Facts

The author is a national of Kazakhstan who claimed that the state party has violated his rights under article 18(1) and (3), read in conjuction with 2(1) and 3(a), (b) and (c), 26 read in conjunction 2(1) and 27 of the Covenant. 

The author is the head of a duly registered religious organisation. In June 2013, he organised a religious ceremony, attended by police who frequently monitor the legality of such activities. On this instance, the police offer brought a representative from the department of religious affairs to verify the activities. After the ceremony, more police arrived to take photos of the premesis and the participants, alleging there was a complaint made via phone call.

The author was later summoned to the prosecutors office and questioned about the meeting. He was later charged with an administrative offence and suspended for three months. 

The author aruged that the state party has arbitrarily restricted his right to manifest his religion in community with others, and that restrictions imposed by the state party were not prescribed by law, nor for a legitimate purpose.

Merits

The Committee considered that in this case, the state party did not advance any argument as to why it is necessary (for the purposes of article 18(3)) for the author to notify the minister of internal affairs for holding of a religious meeting. Further, the Committee found that the state party has not established that such a sweeling limitation is in any way proportionate to any legitimate purpose which it may serve. On this basis, the Committee found that the authors rights under article 18(1) have been violated.

Recommendations

The Committee requested that the state party provide the author with an effective remedy, including making full reparations to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. The state party was requested to:

  • provide the author with adequate compensation, including reimbursement of the present value of the fine and any legal costs or other fees incurred by him;
  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future;

  • publish the present Views and to have them widely disseminated in the official languages of the State party.

Implementation

The Committee requested that the state party provide an update on measures taken within 180 days, or before 25 January 2020.

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