ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2012.08.30

View Adopted: 2022.07.07

V. Adyrkhayev, B. Solikhov and “The Religious Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dushanbe” v. Tajikistan

State-imposed restrictions on the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association

Substantive Issues
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of religion
Relevant Articles
  • Article 18.1
  • Article 18.3
  • Article 22.1
  • Article 22.2
Full Text


The authors are two nationals of Tajikistan and a legal entity (hereinafter - “the Association”). Both individual authors are members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious minority in Tajikistan, and founding members of the Association, which was officially registered in Tajikistan. In 2007, two humanitarian cargoes of religious publications arrived in Dushanbe from the German religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Custom authorities refused to release the cargoes to the Association upon their review by the State Committee on National Security. Later, the Ministry of Culture banned the Association and declared its registration unlawful for violating national legislation by distributing religious publications door to door and in public places. The authors challenged the seizure of the two cargoes and the decision to ban the Association up to the Supreme Court, but the complaints were dismissed. Following the newly introduced Act of 2009 on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, the authors applied for re-registration of the Association. The application  was refused with reference to the fact that the Association had been banned in Tajikistan. The decision was unsuccessfully contested in courts. The authors further submitted that members of the Association have been further subjected to numerous arrests, detentions, searches, beatings, as well as a deportation.

The authors claimed that their rights under articles 18 (1) and (3) (freedom of religion), and 22 (1) and (2) (freedom of association) of the Covenant had been violated.


The Committee recalled that the rights of legal entities are not protected under the Covenant. Hence, only the two individual authors have standing under article 1 of the Optional Protocol. The Committee further concluded that the authors had exhausted all the available domestic remedies and considered their claims under articles 18 (1) and (3), and 22 (1) and (2) of the Covenant admissible.


The Committee stated that none of the reasons put forward by the State party’s authorities and courts to justify the decision to ban the Association and to refuse its re-registration met the requirements of article 18 (3) of the Covenant - that is, necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. Considering the above and significant consequences of the refusal to re-register the Association, the Committee concluded that the refusal to re-register the Association amounted to a limitation on the authors’ right to manifest their religion under article 18 (1) that is unnecessary to achieve a legitimate aim under article 18 (3) of the Covenant. The Committee also noted that the refusal to re-register the Association did not meet the requirements of article 22 (2) of the Covenant  as it led directly to the de facto unlawfulness of its operation on the State party’s territory, with religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses being perceived, as a result, as illegal by the authorities of Tajikistan. This, in turn, led to arrests, detentions, interrogations, searches, beatings, as well as the deportation of a Jehovah’s Witness.


Therefore, there had been a violation of articles 18 (1) and (3) and 22 (1) and (2) of the Covenant.


The State party should:

(a) Provide the authors with adequate compensation; take appropriate steps to review the conditions for the consideration of the Association’s application for reregistration;

(b) take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.


Deadline: January 7, 2023

More information on the case:

Tajikistan’s Ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses Illegal, UN Human Rights Committee Says (bitterwinter.org)

By: Anna Gorodetskaya

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