European court rejects Jehovah's Witness complaint

15-02-2023

Northern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Photo EPA, Ronald Wittek

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the complaint of a former Jehovah's Witness after she was excluded from the religious community.

Gry Helen Nygård was excluded from Jehovah's Witnesses in 2018 after the denomination's internal court concluded that she had committed sexual immorality. Nygård herself believes that she was subjected to a sleep rape. As a result of the exclusion, she lost her entire social network, including contact with her two sons.

To have the exclusion lifted, Nygård has gone through several rounds in the Norwegian legal system but lost in the Supreme Court in May. The following month, she appealed the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). On Monday, she received word from Strasbourg. This reports the Norwegian Christian daily Vårt Land.

The answer from the European Court, however, was disappointing for Nygård. "Unfortunately, the complaint was not taken up for consideration by the European Court of Human Rights. This happens without the court giving any further reasons", says associate attorney Eirin Tinnesand to Vårt Land. According to Tinnesand, it is common for the ECtHR not to give reasons for its refusals.

Excluded

Originally, it was Rolf Furuli who wrote a complaint on behalf of Nygård to the European Court of Human Rights. He is a former elder in Jehovah's Witnesses. He has previously settled internally with the top management of the religious community. Among other things, he has criticized parts of the practice of excluding members. Since then, he has been excluded.

Eirin Tinnesand stated that there could be consequences if the judgment from the Norwegian Supreme Court stands the way it is. "This can lead to people, especially in conservative religious communities, being reluctant to come forward with what they have experienced for fear of reprisals. It will go against societal considerations where we want women and men to be able to come forward with their stories of abuse."

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