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Worship banned: Courts banned worship by Almaty’s Source of Life Protestant Church from April to July, Almaty’s Jehovah’s Witness Centre from August to November, and – if its appeal fails – Oskemen’s New Life Protestant Church for three months. Jehovah’s Witnesses described their ban as “a grossly disproportionate penalty”.

In at least three known cases in 2017, courts have banned religious communities from any activities, including meeting for worship, for three months. On 18 August a court fined and banned New Life Protestant Church in Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk) because church members sang religious songs at a summer camp. The ban has not yet come into force as the Church is appealing to East Kazakhstan Regional Court.

Asked what would happen if the ban enters into legal force and church members continue to meet for worship during the three months, a state religious affairs official told Forum 18: “We’ll fine them again” (see below).

In Almaty a court banned the entire Jehovah’s Witness Administrative Centre for three months because the 25 surveillance cameras it had installed to comply with the law left three small areas without camera coverage. The City Court changed the decision on appeal, banning only the use of the worship areas of the Centre. Jehovah’s Witnesses described the ban as “a serious hindrance to the life of the religious community”. The ban came into force on 3 August and will last until 3 November (see below).

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Worship banned: Courts banned worship by Almaty’s Source of Life Protestant Church from April to July, Almaty’s Jehovah’s Witness Centre from August to November, and – if its appeal fails – Oskemen’s New Life Protestant Church for three months. Jehovah’s Witnesses described their ban as “a grossly disproportionate penalty”In at least three known cases in 2017, courts have banned religious communities from any activities, including meeting for worship, for three months. On 18 August a court fined and banned New Life Protestant Church in Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk) because church members sang religious songs at a summer camp. The ban has not yet come into force as the Church is appealing to East Kazakhstan Regional Court.Asked what would happen if the ban enters into legal force and church members continue to meet for worship during the three months, a state religious affairs official told Forum 18: “We’ll fine them again” (see below).