For Immediate Release
September 5, 2006
ECHR settles 15 cases for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania
BUCHAREST — On July 11, 2006, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a judgment resolving 15 cases dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Romania. The Court took note that a friendly settlement was reached between the parties and struck the cases from its list.
The application to the European Court in 2000 by the Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania showed that the issues at stake included religious freedom, a fair trial, and the prohibition of discrimination. These rights are guaranteed in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which the Romanian government had committed itself to uphold. The application showed that in March 2000, the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion, a status held since 1990. However, the State Secretariat for Religious Affairs had undermined that status as far back as 1997 and refused to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision until May 2003, when the Ministry of Culture and Religions reconfirmed the status of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion.
The other 14 applications were filed by individual Jehovah’s Witnesses who, as conscientious objectors to military service, were denied exemption as ministers. As a result of the friendly settlement, the government of Romania pledged to withdraw all appeals against judgments that national courts had issued in favor of the individual applicants following their unfair convictions.
In addition, the friendly settlement granted representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses access to penitentiaries in order to provide religious assistance to prisoners. The government also agreed to inform all concerned authorities, including those on the state and local level, of the Court’s decision.
“We are glad to see that most of the undertakings the Romanian government assumed by means of the friendly settlement are already fulfilled,” said Dumitru Oul, the president of the organization. He also stated: “As in the past, Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to encourage their neighbors with the Bible’s message that God will soon put an end to all the causes of suffering on earth and that the earth will become a paradise,” referring to the Bible’s promise recorded at Revelation 21:3, 4.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, as members of a worldwide Christian religion, actively share information about Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ. They believe that friendship with God and living by Bible principles contribute to stronger family ties and help people have a purpose in life as well as be productive and honest citizens.
In Romania there are over 76,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and associates, who meet in more than 500 congregations.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600