The Centre was founded in 1993 and originally functioned as a dedicated legal services provider to religious organizations and individuals. Over the years, it has grown and developed into a well-respected and authoritative non-governmental, non-profit organization, with the principal goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia. It is even possible to say that we are the only organization in Russia that deals specifically with religious freedom cases and raises a voice whenever the right to believe is violated.
The SCLJ’s mission is to help people and organizations realize and enjoy their right to freedom of conscience. We do this through litigation and by providing legal help and advice and supporting other lawyers and organizations willing to defend religious freedom and civil rights. Our clients are Russian and foreign nationals, missionaries, charity workers, large denominations and tiny churches – we defend all of them, dealing with sometimes outrageous cases of persecution.
Our lawyers have successfully handled dozens of court cases originating from different regions of the country. Constitutional and Supreme Courts of Russia have reviewed our cases and issued their verdicts in favor of believers. We have won one of the first Russian religious freedom cases – Moscow branch of the Salvation Army v. Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. Yet another SCLJ case is currently pending before the Strasbourg court.
Public Awareness Work
The SCLJ publishes a bi-annual journal Religion and Law, which is the only Russian periodical that addresses the problems of church-state relations and religious freedom protection and highlights the legal aspects of religious organizations' activities.
The SCLJ has published over 20 books on different matters of human rights law. Recently, the SCLJ published a comprehensive selection of legal acts and case-law in the area of religious freedom and religious organizations.
In 2006, the SCLJ launched a dedicated press centre to cover and attract public attention to the key problems and conflicts arising in the area of religion in society. Over the years, lawyers, civil servants, religious leaders, judges and journalists have benefited from the training seminars and conferences organized by the SCLJ.
We firmly believe that freedom of conscience is an inalienable right of every person and needs to be ensured in accordance with principles of justice and the rule of law. The Slavic Centre for Law and Justice bases its actions on the constitutional principle of equality of all before the law.