JUNE 29, 2022
Russia Withdraws From the European Court
On June 11, 2022, President Vladimir Putin signed two bills into law that unilaterally removed Russia from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as of March 15, 2022. Therefore, all ECHR judgments from March 15, 2022, onward are no longer legally enforceable in Russia. This includes the ECHR’s June 7 judgment declaring the nationwide ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses unlawful and ordering Russia to stop criminally prosecuting them, to release all Witnesses currently detained, and to return all confiscated properties or pay the applicants some 59 million euros ($63 million U.S.).
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe oversees the implementation of the judgments of the ECHR within its member states. Russia had been a member of the Council of Europe since 1996.
On March 15, 2022, Russia informed the Council of its intention to withdraw as a member. The following day, the Council officially expelled Russia. The Russian government was subsequently informed that according to the terms of the treaty that it signed upon joining the Council of Europe, Russia remains under the jurisdiction of the ECHR through September 16, 2022.
Russia sought to unilaterally break free from its remaining obligations to the Court by adopting the two aforementioned bills on June 7, 2022. This was the same day that the ECHR issued its judgment in favor of our brothers in Russia.
The ECHR’s judgment can be used in the domestic courts of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe in cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most importantly, it completely exonerates Jehovah’s Witnesses from all of Russia’s accusations. On the world stage, this decision results in a great witness for Jehovah and the vindication of his name. Indeed, all praise goes to Jehovah!—Psalm 83:18.