ECHR settles 15 cases for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania

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 person in the United States: Philip Brumley, telephone 845 306 0711
Contact person in Bucharest: Dumitru Oul, telephone +40213027500

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