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Training on freedom of religion or belief

TRAINING ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Table of contents

    • Explanation of concepts and definitions

    • Overview of different relevant issues (for example parents, children, education, states and churches, terrorism and religious property)

    • Overview of position and role of the most important international organisations (UN, OSCE, EU, Council of Europe)

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • About the Human Rights Concept

    • History of development of Human Rights

    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    • Freedom of Religion or Belief as a fundamental human right

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Sharing Session

    • Do you have personal experiences related to (limitations of) freedom of religion or belief?

    • Are you aware of events or cases of other persons or religious organisations related to this issue?

    • Which issues play a role in discussions in your society in which the wish to restrict or defend this freedom is at stake?

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Theological reflection on the issue on Freedom of Religion or Belief

    • General idea of freedom in the bible: “For Freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1,13-25)

    • Centre of Churches’ advocacy for Human Rights, because:

      • only a free belief is true belief

      • dignity of human beings

      • core of churches’ freedom

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • What are the present challenges related to Freedom of Religion or Belief in society?

    • Persecution of Religious Minorities

    • Limitation of freedom of religious expression

    • Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Christianophobia

    • Majority/ Minority

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Content of the right of Freedom of Religion or Belief (Article 18 UDHR)

    • Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;

    • Right to freedom to change his/her religion or belief;

    • Freedom to exercise religion or belief alone or in community with others and in public or private sphere;

    • Freedom to manifest his/her religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Definitions and Key concepts

    • The definition of the term ‘religion’

    • Religion or belief

    • Inter-relationship of human rights norms

    • The margin of appreciation

    • Internal freedom (forum internum)

    • External freedom (forum externum)

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religion or Belief

    • What is the difference between religion and belief?

    • Belief: “Deeply held conscientious beliefs that are fundamental about the human condition and the world”.

    • Belief includes: atheism, agnosticism, pacifism, communism and veganism.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • The Definition of ‘Religion’

    • Difficulties:

    • No internationally accepted definition;

    • How to define a religious concept in legal terms?;

    • What is considered a religion (think of Buddhism)?;

    • Terms “sect” and “cult”;

    • Criteria: A certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance (Campbell and Cosans v United Kingdom 25 February 1982, para. 36).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Internal Freedom (forum internum)

    • The key element of the right is that:

    • “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”;

    • This freedom is - in contrast to manifestations of religion - an absolute right and may not be subjected to limitations of any kind;

    • The right to “change” or “to have or adopt” a religion or belief falls within the domain of the absolute internal freedom right.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • External Freedom (forum externum)

    • Everyone has the freedom, either alone or in community with others, in public or private “to manifest his (or her) religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching” (ICCPR, Article 18.1);

    • The scope of protected manifestations is broad;

    • The manifestations of an individual’s beliefs and those of a community are protected.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Limitations - Role and position of the State

    • The scope of the possible limitations

    • Equality and non-discrimination

    • Neutrality and impartiality

    • Non-coercion

    • Rights of parents and guardians

    • Right to association

    • Right to effective remedies

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Rights of parents and guardians

    • Key elements of the right are:

    • Parents have the liberty to ensure the moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions;

    • Protection for the rights of each child to freedom of religion or belief consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Equality and non-discrimination

  • Neutrality and impartiality

  • Non-coercion.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Right to effective remedies

    • The ECHR provides:

    • Protection of fundamental human rights provided by Articles 1-12;

    • Protection on the national level by ensuring that ‘effective remedies’ offer protection against violations by the State or others;

    • Articles 6 and 13 of ECHR require fair trial and effective remedies, extending the human rights protection also to ‘procedural rights’ on the national level.

    • For example the right of a religious community to acquire legal personality on the basis of ECHR Article 9, construed “in light of” Article 6 (Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia v. Moldova, para. 118 (ECtHR 2001); Canea Catholic Church v. Greece (ECtHR 1997)).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Children, parents, education

    • Parental rights related to the education of their children;

    • Religious, ethical, or humanist education in State and community schools;

    • Religious symbols (and attire) in State schools.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Parental rights related to the education of their children

    • It is generally recognised that parents have the right to determine the religious education of their children;

    • (See for example General Comment 22 para. 6; ECHR protocol 2 Article 2; 1981 Declaration Article 5; Vienna Concluding Document 16.7).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious, ethical, or humanist education in State

  • and community schools

    • This is the obligation for the State to respect and to ensure to all individuals subject to its jurisdiction the right to freedom of religion or belief without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or other origin, property, birth or other status.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious symbols (and attire) in State schools

    • In exercising its regulatory power in its relations with the various religions, denominations and beliefs, the State has a duty to remain neutral and impartial;

    • Lautsi and others v Italy, 18 March 2011 on crucifixes in classrooms;

    • Sahin v Turkey, 10 November 2005 on religious clothing;

    • Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia v Moldova, para. 116 (ECtHR 2001).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious Autonomy

    • The influence of States on religion range from State authority over doctrines and churches to States which are very reluctant to involve themselves in any ‘internal’ or ‘doctrinal’ matter.

    • Issues/questions:

    • Under which circumstances would State involvement be necessary?

    • How to balance the interests of society versus, for example, religious dominance/interference with the fundamental morals and values of society by certain religious groups/communities/churches?

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • States and churches: Autonomy, administration, financing

    • Religious autonomy

    • Registration of religious/belief organisations

    • Proselyting/missionary activity

    • State financing

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Registration of religious/belief organisations

    • The major problem areas that may be addressed regarding registration and acquisition of legal personality by religious organisations:

    • Registration of religious organisations should not be mandatory, although it is appropriate to require registration for the purposes of obtaining legal personality and similar benefits.

    • Individuals and groups should be free to practice their religion without registration if they so desire.

    • High minimum membership requirements should not be allowed with respect to obtaining legal personality.

    • Other excessively burdensome constraints or time delays prior to obtaining legal personality should be questioned.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • State financing

    • States provide:

    • Direct financing;

    • Indirect financing, for example, tax exemptions and tax deductions;

    • State funding systems, for example, paying salaries for clergy subsidising schools, donating property.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Proselyting and missionary activity

    • The core element of freedom of religion is the right to express one’s religious convictions and to share them with others;

    • There is a line between the right to engage in religious persuasion and coercive persuasion;

    • Protection of door-to-door proselytising; protection of the right to refuse to be proselytised.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Military service

    • Conscientious objection to military service;

    • Other issues.

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Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Conscientious objection to military service

    • Conscientious objection is allowed in most democratic States;

    • To be replaced by alternative (non-military) service;

    • No controlling international standard on this issue.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Other places in which objections may rise:

    • Refusal to take oaths

    • Refusal to perform jury service

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

  • Terrorism and Human Rights

    • Can terrorists who do not respect the most fundamental human rights (right to life) enjoy full protection of their own human rights?

    • Can human rights be balanced? For example: is it possible give priority to protect the life of a large number of innocent people (from a terrorist attack) and accept that the suspected terrorist’s rights might be violated?

    • European Court of Human Rights: Grand Chamber Saadi v Italy of 29 January 2008

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Right to ask for protection as refugee for persecution for reasons of religion

    • Protects the right to freedom of religion or belief;

    • Comprises:

    • the freedom of a person to change his/her religion and.

    • freedom to manifest it in public or private.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • National security and terrorism

    • Terrorism and human rights

    • Religious terrorism

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious Terrorism

    • Measures to protect people against (religious) terrorism;

    • Clear distinction between organisations that do or do not engage in criminal or violent acts.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious property disputes

    • Two types of disputes: 

    • Disputed ownership as a result of prior State action that seized the property and transferred it to others (for example in former communist/socialist countries);

    • Dispute within a religious community leading to groups contesting ownership rights.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Political activities of religious organisations

    • State approach to political activities of religious organisations

    • States have a variety of approaches, for example:

      • Prohibition of religious-political parties

      • Preventing religious groups from engaging in political activities

      • Eliminating tax exemptions for religious groups engaging in political activities.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Labour

    • Three of the principal issues regarding the relationship between labour (employment practices) and religion or belief involve the hiring and other personnel practices of religious or belief groups, private enterprises, State offices;

    • Religious and belief organisations will likely seek exemptions for their own hiring practices so that they may hire and retain people whose sympathies correspond to the interests of the associations;

    • Legal approaches: Private (non-religious) enterprises: the standard will be to prohibit discrimination. Employers may be allowed to restrict some manifestations of belief. States should not discriminate in personnel practices (some States prohibit officials from wearing religious insignia).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Right to association and assembly 

    • Freedom of association is the right for everybody to join with others without State interference;

    • Freedom of (peaceful) assembly is, for example, the freedom to have processions;

    • Thereby both rights are closely connected with the right to freedom of (manifestation) of religion or belief;

    • Limitations should not be unreasonable and inconsistent with the substance of the right;

    • States have a positive obligation to regulate and protect the application of this right.

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Tolerance

    • Freedom of religion or belief - the rights of others to have a different religion or belief or no religion or belief;

    • How to respect different ways of life?

    • Where to limit the rights of others, coming from a different cultural/religious background, manifesting religious traditions conflicting with our own moral and religious standards (which may be translated into law and policy).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Religious freedom and foreign affairs

    • How is freedom of religion or belief monitored by your national government?

    • For example: policy to monitor the issue within the scope of national foreign policy;

    • How could you cooperate with the national authorities?

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Important articles related to the Freedom of Religion or Belief - I

    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 18

    • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (ICCPR): Articles 18 and 27

    • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966): Article 13

    • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) (ECHR): Article 9

    • European Charter on Fundamental Rights: Article 10

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

  • Important articles related to the Freedom of Religion or Belief - II

  • Commitments and Concluding Documents of the OSCE process (particularly the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document)

  • Framework Convention for the protection of national Minorities: Articles 5, 7 and 8

  • UN Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: Articles 1 and 6

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

  • UN - Human Rights Instruments

    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (UDHR) see Article 18

    • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (ICCPR)

    • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

    • Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981)

    • United Nations Human Rights Committee General Comment 22

    • Reports of United Nations Special Rapporteurs (in the left column go to 'Mandates', choose thematic or country mandates - from there you can choose your country/topic and have access to the page of the Special Rapporteur)

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • UN Special Rapporteurs, UPR, OUNHR

    • The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (since 1986);

    • The Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression also can be contacted for violations or limitation of religious expression;

    • The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance has the task of dealing with Anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and Islamophobia;

    • Universal Periodical Review (UPR);

    • You can get in touch with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OUNHR).

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • Council of Europe - Human Rights Instruments

    • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) (ECHR) see Article 9

    • Decisions and judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

    • Commissioner for Human Rights

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • OSCE Instruments

    • Commitments and Concluding Documents of the OSCE process (particularly 1989 Vienna Concluding Document)

    • OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion or Belief (2004)

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • EU Instruments

    • The most important EU Human Rights Instruments:

    • EU Lisbon Treaty see : Articles 11 and 17

    • European Charter on Fundamental Rights see: Article 10

csc.ceceurope.org


Conference of european churches church society commission

Conference of European Churches

Church & Society Commission

  • EU Institutions dealing with Freedom of Religion or Belief / Mechanisms:

    • European Commission

      • The Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

      • The Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy (Turkey, Western Balkans)

      • BEPA also organises a yearly meeting of Religious Leaders

    • The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Eastern partnerships)

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