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DECEMBER 13, 2016

Jehovah’s Witnesses Appeal Fines for Speaking About Their Beliefs

On December 2, 2016, the Goranboy District Police Department in Azerbaijan brought Ziyad Dadashov before the local court for his religious activity as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Four men from his village testified that Mr. Dadashov had spoken of his beliefs and offered Bible literature. Judge Shirzad Huseynov of the Goranboy District Court declared him guilty of illegal religious activity * and fined him 1,500 manat ($846 U.S.). Mr. Dadashov does not believe that he should be punished and will appeal the decision.

In the same region, Jaarey Suleymanova and Gulnaz Israfilova visited a woman who had enjoyed their Bible discussions for many months. Subsequently, the Goranboy District Police Department charged the two Witness women with religious activity “outside of the registered legal address,” and on November 17, 2016, Judge Ismayil Abdurahmanli of the Goranboy District Court fined both of them 2,000 manat ($1,128 U.S.). They are appealing the fines.

International human rights lawyer Jason Wise notes: “The discrimination against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan shows a lack of respect for the European Convention. The actions of the authorities in the Goranboy District are out of harmony with the standards of freedom of religious beliefs that the country claims to promote.”

^ par. 1 Jehovah’s Witnesses are registered as a religion in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Mr. Dadashov was charged under the Administrative Violations Code, Article 515.0.4, “a religious association operating outside of the registered legal address.”