Europe’s top human rights court ordered Moscow on Tuesday to lift its ban on the country’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, just hours before Russian lawmakers passed a law ending its jurisdiction.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said on Tuesday that Russia violated the right to religious freedom of 1,444 worshipers when it declared the Christian organization an “extremist” group in 2017.
“The court found that the definition of ‘extremism’ was too broad in Russian law and had been misused to prosecute religious believers or ministers based solely on the content of their beliefs,” the European Court of Human Rights ruled.
The Strasbourg-based court ordered Moscow to release the 91 Jehovah’s Witnesses currently in Russian jails, pay 3.5 million euros ($3.7 million) in damages and return seized property or pay 60 million euros ($64 million) in compensation.
But it seems unlikely that Russia will carry out the trial, with lawmakers quickly pass legislation Tuesday to end the jurisdiction of the ECHR. The bill, which must now be approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin, establishes March 16 as the cutoff date by recognized sentences.
The court itself had said it would continue to receive claims from Russia until September 16, when it would no longer be a party to the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights has been one of the few remaining legal recourses for Russians to seek justice for political persecution and human rights violations.
An association of Russian lawyers said last week that it was developing a domestic alternative to the ECHR.
The Council of Europe, which oversees the court, discontinued then expelled Russia in March following its invasion of Ukraine.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.