For Immediate Release
February 17, 2006
Federal Administrative Court grants long-awaited recognition to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany
The Land (State) of Berlin has now recognized Jehovah’s Witnesses as a public corporation. With its decision (Ref 7B80.05 of 02/01/2006) published February 10, the Federal Administrative Court upheld the corresponding judgment of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin.
This is the third time that the Federal Administrative Court has ruled on this aspect of the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The negative decision of the Federal Administrative Court in 1997, which followed the positive decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin on December 14, 1995, made it necessary to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court. In the year 2000, the Federal Constitutional Court decided in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses again and sent the case back for review. On the basis of the guidelines then issued by the Federal Administrative Court, the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin pronounced the judgment in 2005 that has now legally come into force.
It became necessary for the Federal Administrative Court to deal with this case again because the Land (State) of Berlin had lodged a complaint against the stipulation that did not allow admission of a further appeal.
With this decision, the Federal Administrative Court makes clear that the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin has indeed conclusively established the prerequisites for granting Jehovah’s Witnesses the legal status applied for. The Religious Association is said to guarantee fidelity to legal norms. This decision was made by the Higher Administrative Court after thorough examination of all available sources of information. It requested, for example, additional documentation from the Land (State) of Berlin as well as from the plaintiff religious association. The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin did not base its decision merely on the presentation of the parties involved, but it fulfilled its obligation to obtain its own information. Questioning of additional witnesses beyond this was not necessary.
For more than 100 years Jehovah’s Witnesses have existed in Germany uncontested—apart from being persecuted by the Nazi regime and being placed under ban in the former German Democratic Republic.
The latest decision of the court to recognize the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses was welcomed by Werner Rudtke (65), spokesperson for the group. He said: “We are relieved that now, after 15 years of uncertainty, our legal status has been clarified in our favor. This clearly proves that we meet the prerequisites for obtaining the status of a public corporation. Our main interest has always been and remains the evangelizing work as commanded personally by God’s Son, Jesus Christ.”—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600