Home International Cases Sergey Geller v. Kazakhastan

Human Rights Committee (ICCPR)
Key words
Article 18 ICCPR
Cases referred to
  1. Alekseev v. Russian Federation (CCPR/C/109/D/1873/2009)
  2. Sudalenko v. Belarus (CCPR/C/115/D/2016/2010)
  3. Poplavny and Sudalenko v. Belarus (CCPR/C/118/D/2139/2012)


Counsel who appeared
Date of Decision
Judgement by Name of Judge/s
Noteworthy information relating to the case

Violation recognised.

Other information


Sergey Geller v. Kazakhastan


Facts of the case

The author claims that worshippers of traditional (mainstream) religions in Kazakhstan, such as Islam and Christianity, are not required to obtain permission to hold their ceremonies outside of their places of registration. 


In the author’s view, he was discriminated against as a representative of a “non-traditional” religion. Therefore, the requirement to seek permission to carry out any religious ceremony outside of the place of registration of a religious organization restricts the rights of followers of non-traditional (minority) religious organizations.  


The mainstream or “traditional” religious groups have sufficient funds to purchase land and build mosques and churches, officially register them, and carry out all ceremonies in official places of registration. Meanwhile, minority religious organizations, such as the author’s, often have to register at private apartments and rent premises for their ceremonies.

Findings related to FoRB

FoRB violation – Freedom of religion: discrimination on the ground of religion


In relation to the author’s claim under article 18 of the Covenant, the Committee recalls that article18 (3) of the Covenant states that the right to freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject to certain limitations, but only those prescribed by law and necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. 


In the present case, the Committee notes that the author was issued with a fine for organising a meeting, followed by a religious ceremony, with members of the Krishna Consciousness Society at a location other than the Society’s registered address without  previously  notifying  the  regional  department of religious affairs. The Committee considers that the State party’s authorities-imposed limitations on the author’s right to manifest his beliefs in community with others and that the imposition of a fine constituted a limitation on that right.


The  Committee  concludes  that  the  punishment  imposed  on  the author amounts to a  limitation on the author’s right to  manifest  his religion  in community with others under article18 (1); that the limitation was not based on law in force at the time of the events and was not shown to serve any legitimate purpose identified in article18 (3); and that the State party has not shown that this sweeping limitation on the right to manifest one’s religion is proportionate to any legitimate purpose that it might serve. 


The limitation therefore does not meet the requirements of article18 (3), and the Committee accordingly finds that the author’s rights under article18 (1), read alone and in conjunction with article 2(3) of the Covenant have been violated.