On March 18, 2019, Sergei Skrynnikov, a Russian citizen and allegedly a Jehovah’s Witness, was charged with “participating in an extremist organization,” an offence under Russian law that could earn him up to six years in prison. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been fleeing Russia and seeking asylum in Germany and Finland to escape such harsh sentences. On Feb. 6 a Russian court sentenced a Danish citizen who was legally a resident in Russia to six years in prison for such extremist offences as organizing other Witnesses to shovel snow from their church’s property.
In China, state authorities harass Jehovah’s Witnesses and raid their meetings. Authorities also deport foreign Witness missionaries from countries such as South Korea.
All these states violate international laws that protect religious freedom. Article 18, 1 of the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects everyone’s freedom to “have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice” and “to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”