Kasymakhunov and Saybatalov v Russia

The European Court of Human Rights has issued its judgment in Kasymakhunov and Saybatalov v Russia which involved a complaint by two individuals about criminal convictions which, they alleged, were secured on the basis of legal provisions that were neither accessible nor foreseeable. The applicants also complained of a violation of their freedoms of religion, expression and association and of discrimination on account of their religious beliefs.

Both applicants were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (The Party of Islamic Liberation): 'an international Islamic organisation with branches in many parts of the world, including the Middle East and Europe. It advocates the overthrow of governments and their replacement by an Islamic State in the form of a recreated Caliphate. Hizb ut-Tahrir first emerged among Palestinians in Jordan in the early 1950s. It has achieved a small, but highly committed following in a number of Middle Eastern states and has also gained in popularity among Muslims in western Europe and Indonesia. It began working in Central Asia in the mid-1990s and has developed a committed following inside Uzbekistan, and to a lesser extent in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan' (para. 7).

In its adjudication, the Court drew upon information from a report prepared by the International Crisis Group in 2003 entitled 'Radical Islam in Central Asia: Responding to Hizb ut-Tahrir'. That report mentions Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami's position on homosexuality:

'In the UK Hizb ut-Tahrir remains very active, particularly in London and in towns with major Muslim populations such as Birmingham, Bradford and Sheffield. It has been notably successful in recruiting students, although it has been banned from many university campuses, because of its anti-Semitism, alleged threatening behaviour towards students of other faiths, and public objections to homosexuality' (para. 45).

The Court declared all aspects of the complaint inadmissible except the Article 7 complaints. It unanimously held that there had been a violation of the Article 7 rights of one applicant, but no violation of the Article 7 rights of the other applicant.