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Guest posted a topic in Jehovah’s Witnesses's TopicsHELSINKI, April 17. /TASS/. Finland’s migration service has turned down the vast majority of asylum requests filed by Russian members of Jehovah’s Witnesses (outlawed in Russia), because it sees no real threat for the group’s members in their home country, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported on Wednesday. According to the paper’s sources, in 2017-2019 the Finnish authorities have received about 250 asylum requests from members of the religious organization, which Russia outlawed in 2017. To date, 90 of those requests have already been considered and only 10% received a positive response. The requests were rejected, because the Finnish authorities “believe that Russia is a safe country” for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Helsingin Sanomat said. Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions. In August 2017, the Russian Justice Ministry included the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and its 395 local religious branches to the list of organizations that are outlawed nationwide. The Russian Supreme Court satisfied the claim of the Justice Ministry to shut down the organization on April 20, 2017.
Guest posted a topic in Jehovah’s Witnesses's TopicsThe law allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription was ruled discriminatory by Finland's Parliament. Parliament on Wednesday turned over a law that has allowed male members of Jehovah’s Witnesses to skip military or civilian service without facing a prison term. The exemption dating from 1987 has long been considered problematic from a constitutional standpoint. Last year, the Helsinki Court of Appeal ruled that the Finnish practice of allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription is discriminatory. The ruling related to a discrimination case brought by a man who was imprisoned in 2016 for refusing conscripted service. Under current legislation Jehovah's Witnesses may postpone their entry into service for three years at a time (starting at age 18), until their obligation officially ceases at age 29. Proponents of the religious faction say their objection is rooted in their pacifist reading of the Bible. With the exception of women, who have never been legally bound to enter conscription, no other groups in Finland have had the same right.
Finland's Supreme Administrative Court (KHO) ruled that private data gathering door-to-door by Jehovah’s Witnesses is illegal without prior consent. The ruling by Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court follows a review of the practice requested from the European Court Justice. In July, the ECJ published its opinion, saying that the practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses collecting personal information as members proselytise door-to-door is illegal, because the organisation is effectively compiling a personal data register, which should comply with data protection regulations. Finland's KHO has now concurred, saying that the creation of name lists and the taking of notes containing personal information during the group's missionary activities always requires the consent of those whose data is being gathered. The issue has been under scrutiny since 2013, when a data protection board under the Justice Ministry ruled that the Jehovah’s Witnesses' practice of collecting personal data violated the law. However, that was followed in 2014 by a ruling by the Helsinki Administrative Court that the religious group’s personal register was not illegal. Following the Supreme Administrative Court's decision to ban the practice, the Interior Ministry's Data Protection Board has now given the Jehovah's Witnesses a six month deadline to ensure that personal information is no longer gathered for the group's own purposes. Sources Yle
The Finnish government has ruled that the current law allowing Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid military service, in place for several decades, is discriminatory and contradicts the constitution. In the future, Finnish Jehovah's Witnesses* will be obliged to either serve inÂ the nation's military or perform civil service onÂ the same terms asÂ everyone else, the government ruled, submitting a corresponding proposal toÂ parliament, national broadcasterÂ YleÂ reported. According toÂ the 1987 law, Jehovah's Witnesses were not only freed fromÂ the military draft, they were freed ofÂ any obligation toÂ perform community service asÂ a pacifist alternative, a common option amongÂ other young people inÂ Finland. The Finnish government has decided that this preferential treatment is discriminatory and contradicts the constitution. Repealing the law will allow all religious groups toÂ get equal treatment inÂ terms ofÂ conscription, the government's press release said. The government proposed a three-month transition period. Those applying forÂ suspension withinÂ the three-month period beforeÂ the new law enters intoÂ force shall be allowed toÂ skip military service. After the transition period, exemptions will be no longer granted. Abolishing the Jehovah's Witnesses' draft exemption has been consideredÂ several timesÂ before, inÂ 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013, butÂ nothing came ofÂ the discussions. However, the debate was re-kindled this year, when the Helsinki Supreme Court overruled a prison sentence againstÂ a conscientious objector who refused toÂ perform community service. The court found it discriminatory toÂ sentence a conscientious objector, when Jehovah's Witnesses don't need toÂ do any military or community service whatsoever. "Today we have a kind ofÂ two-storied definition ofÂ personal convictions. Jehovah's Witnesses enjoy statutory liberation fromÂ military service, while others withÂ pacifist convictions don't," former Defense Minister Stefan Wallin, who has long pushed forÂ the abolition ofÂ differential treatment,Â explained. Veikko Leinonen, a Jehovah's Witnesses information officer inÂ Finland, said this isn't a "working solution." "It's problematic. The belief the Jehovah's Witnesses follow opposes all forms ofÂ war and killing," Leinonen stressed. "Ideally, we should keep the system that exists today. It has worked well and does not violate anyone's rights," heÂ added. This move is expected toÂ cover some 130 people annually. According toÂ Teemu PenttilÃ¤, the leader ofÂ the task force behindÂ the investigation, the number of "total objectors" refusing both military service and community service won't rise significantly. In 2017, 33 conscientious objectors were sentenced inÂ Finland. The Finnish Defense Forces operate onÂ the principle ofÂ universal male conscription, although women are allowed toÂ volunteer and have been availing themselves ofÂ this opportunity increasingly. With a peacetime strength ofÂ about 16,000 troops, Finland is capable ofÂ mobilizing upÂ to 230,000 troops and service personnel withinÂ four weeks, making it the largest force inÂ Scandinavia. The total number ofÂ Jehovah's Witnesses is estimated atÂ about 20,000 inÂ Finland. * Jehovah's Witnesses are banned inÂ Russia