ECLJ submits a special statement on Religious Freedom to the United Nations
Representatives of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) are currently participating in the Sixth Session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva.
GENEVA – September 13
Since the ECLJ acquired non-governmental organization (NGO) status with the United Nations, the ECLJ is actively engaged on the international level in the defense of religious freedom and human rights. For its first participation to the Human Rights Council, the ECLJ has the great opportunity to present a statement on religious freedom.
ECLJ participates in the work of the Human Rights Council, the main deliberative human rights body of the United Nations, which is composed of 47 States, and meets for about 10 weeks each year in Geneva. The Human Rights Council is the only UN body that extensively examines the fundamental right to freedom of religion, belief, and conscience around the world. The Council has a Special Rapporteur (currently Asma Jahangir from Pakistan) who is tasked specifically with promoting religious freedom, as well as investigating violations by both governmental and non-governmental actors of this fundamental right.
ECLJ is actively working with the Special Rapporteur, governments and NGOs here to ensure the rights of religious believers to be free from forced conversions or to be prohibited from freely converting to the religion of their choice. The ECLJ written statement submitted to the Council draws special attention to recent violations of religious freedom in these areas, including the refusal of the Egyptian government to change the religious affiliation on the government ID card of a Christian convert, the abduction and forced conversion by Hamas of a Christian professor in Palestine to Islam, and the anti-conversion laws in various states in India. The ECLJ is challenging the many governments around the world who pay lip service to religious freedom but restrict the rights of religious minorities to comply with their binding obligations under customary international law.
Already today a few countries, including Egypt and some of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) States, have challenged the Special Rapporteur’s report, including her assertion that missionary activity is protected under the right to religious freedom. ECLJ will continue to report daily on new developments from the Council. A full set of the documents referred to in this report can be found at the ECLJ website: www.eclj.org