European Court of Human Rights examines application submitted by convicted Hizb ut-Tahrir activist (Kasymakhunov v. Russia)

The applicant, Mr Yusup Kasymakhunov, is an Uzbek national who was born in 1964 and is now serving his sentence in the Komi Republic in Russia. On 14 February 2003 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation found fifteen organisations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, to be terrorist organisations and prohibited their activity in the territory of Russia. It held a hearing in camera with the participation of a representative of the Prosecutor General’s office, but in the absence of the organisations’ representatives. The part concerning Hizb ut-Tahrir reads in its entirety as follows:

“The Party of Islamic Liberation (‘Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami’) is an organisation that pursues the aims of overthrowing non-Islamic governments and of establishing Islamic rule on an international scale by reviving a ‘Worldwide Islamic Caliphate’, in the first place in the regions with predominantly Muslim population, including Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its main methods and activities include Islamic militant propaganda, combined with intolerance to other religions, active recruitment of supporters, activities aiming at promoting schism and disunity in society (primarily proselytism with massive financial support). It is banned in several Middle East and Commonwealth of Independent States countries (Uzbekistan).”

According to the applicant, that judgment was never officially published. After the organisation had been banned many of its members were charged with, and convicted of, aiding and abetting terrorism, membership of a criminal gang, membership of an extremist organisation or unlawful possession of arms.

On 13 February 2004 the applicant was arrested. On 25 March 2004 criminal proceedings were instituted against him and his partner Ms D. They were accused of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and were charged with aiding and abetting terrorism, founding of a criminal organisation and use of forged documents, offences under Articles 205.1 § 1, 210 § 1 and 327 § 3 of the Criminal Code. On 11 November 2004 he was found guilty and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

The applicant complains under Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention, each taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention, about his conviction on account of his religious beliefs, his expression of his opinion and his membership of a peaceful organisation. He alleges, in particular, that he was convicted on the basis of a judgment of the Supreme Court which had not been duly published and did not therefore meet the Convention’s “quality of law” requirements. He also complained of the extremely severe sentence imposed on him which, in his view, was manifestly disproportionate to any legitimate aim.

The applicant complains under Article 7 of the Convention that he could not have known that his membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir made him criminally liable, as the judgment of the Supreme Court by which that organisation had been banned had not been duly published.

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