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Overview of Secondary Award of Corporate Rights

After being awarded corporate rights in the State of Berlin, we also applied for a secondary award in the other federal states in July 2006 in order to reinforce the legal certainty of our relationship with the authorities in the individual German states.

In 2009, corporate rights were granted in most federal states. In June 2011, we filed a constitutional complaint against the State of Bremen because it emphatically rejected the secondary award of corporate rights. The decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on 30 June 2015 clarified outstanding legal questions regarding the secondary award procedure.

Subsequently, the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Bremen also awarded us corporate rights. The secondary award in North Rhine-Westphalia on 27 January 2017 gave us the legal equality with other recognised religious associations that is guaranteed under the German Constitution (Grundgesetz).

Secondary Award Procedure in Baden-Württemberg

The application for corporate rights was finally rejected in a decision on 11 February 2011 despite

  1. The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs proposing a positive decision before the state cabinet for the session of 12 May 2009 and
  2. The former heads of the Ministry, Ministers Helmut Rau and Marion Schick, making clear several times, including publicly, that all requirements for confirming corporate rights of Jehovas Zeugen in Deutschland were fulfilled in the State of Baden-Württemberg.

On 11 March 2011, we filed an action with Stuttgart Administrative Court against the rejection of the secondary award of corporate rights by the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Clear legal relationships have been formed thanks to the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the secondary award in Bremen. As a result, the State of Baden-Württemberg pronounced the secondary award in a certificate dated 10 November 2015.

The legal action of March 2011 was thus settled and the proceedings closed.

Secondary Award Procedure in Bremen

On 9 June 2009, the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen introduced a draft law before the Bremen Parliament to award public corporation rights to Jehovas Zeugen in Deutschland.

In previous parallel cases, the parliamentary debates did not usually last more than two to three months. However, in our case, the parliamentary procedure dragged on for almost two years until the draft legislation was rejected on 12 May 2011 in the final plenary session of the 17th legislative period.

On 14 June 2011, we filed a constitutional complaint against Bremen Parliament’s rejection of the secondary award of corporate rights.

In its decision of 30 June 2015, the Federal Constitutional Court declared Article 61 sentence 2 Bremen State Constitution null and void, thereby partially upholding the constitutional complaint.

After the Senate administration had already determined in mid-2009 that Jehovas Zeugen in Deutschland fulfilled the requirements to receive corporate rights, the secondary award was finally granted on 16 December 2015.

Secondary Award Procedure in North Rhine-Westphalia

In July 2006, the application was filed in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. We achieved formal equality on 27 January 2017. This brought to an end over 26 years of efforts – we finally obtained our constitutionally guaranteed corporate rights.