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YEREVAN, JULY 24. ARMINFO. 7,644 Armenian citizens are members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, the human rights activist Alexander Amarian reported during today’s meeting of the Presidential Human Rights Commission. He referred to the data provided by the sect itself.

According to him, about 19,000 Armenian citizens are “sympathizing” with this religious organization in Armenia, that is they are its potential members. The number of member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia is threateningly increasing: in 1999 the organization’s member constituted only 0.005% of Armenia’s population, but in 2001 it reached 0.15% and is increasing. In this connection, the Presidential Human Rights Commission decided to present a number of initiatives both to the President, the Parliament and to the Government. The Commission members propose that the parliament urgently amend the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations.” Also, the Commission proposes inclusion of clauses stipulating punishment for “soul catching” in the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Violations. The Commission also proposes the establishment of an information center to study the activities of religious organizations whose activities are destructive and threaten Armenia’s nationhood. All the aforementioned proposals and initiatives are in conformity with the CE’s resolution on religious organizations adopted in 1999, as well as with a number of verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights concerning citizens’ protection from “encroachments of various sects and soul catchers,” Commission Chairman Hovhannes Asrian said.

After being edited, the proposals and initiatives will be submitted to the Parliament and Government of Armenia.

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