External Briefings

EAST ASIA

Human Rights Watch: Indonesia Sends Ominous Signal to Religious Minorities

25 September 2017

During the United Nation’s periodic review of Indonesia’s rights record last week, Jakarta rejected recommendations by UN member states that the government “introduce legislation to repeal the blasphemy law”. It also rejected a recommendation to amend or revoke laws that limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the country. Read full dispatch here

 

UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief: Burma and the Rohingyas – In Parliament and Global Comment.

8 September 2017

Yasmin Qureshi to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Full transcript here

 

Blasphemy law has no place in a tolerant nation like Indonesia – UN rights experts

22 May 2017

A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of Indonesia to review and repeal its criminalization of blasphemy. Their call comes after the recent blasphemy conviction and imprisonment of Indonesian politician and former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Read more here

 

CENTRAL AND SOUTH ASIA

Christian Solidarity Worldwide and UNHRC Joint Statement on India

21 September 2017

Christian Solidarity Worldwide and UNHRC call on the government of India to implement its constitutional guarantees granting every citizen the right to profess and practice their religion and to ensure that the voice of dissent against oppression and injustice is protected. Full article here

 

3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review of FoRB: A Joint Submission by Civil Society Coalition for FoRB & Strengthening Pluralism in India

31 August 2017

The Civil Society Coalition for FoRB & Strengthening Pluralism in India call upon the government to make meaningful transformations at the ground level in line with the recommendations given in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cycle Periodic Reviews. Full briefing here

 

Amnesty International: URGENT ACTION Bangladeshi Human Rights Defender Threatened with Violence.

07 June 2017

Prominent human rights defender Sultana Kamal has received threats of violence from the Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, following comments she made on a TV talk show. The authorities must take immediate steps to ensure Sultana Kamal’s protection, investigate the threats made against her and hold those responsible to account. Full statement here

 

The Maldives must investigate murder of journalist Yameen Rasheed and hold those responsible to account – UN experts

9 May 2017

The authorities in the Maldives must follow President Gayoom’s call to carry out a public inquiry into the murder of the prominent journalist, blogger and human rights defender, Yameen Rasheed, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” say a group* of United Nations experts, including Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief Mr. Ahmed Shaheed. Read more here

 

Christian Solidarity Worldwide: Pakistan Submission to the 28th UPR

10 April 2017

This submission reviews the scope of Pakistan’s international legal obligations and analyse the implementation of recommendations related to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) from Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2012 and 2008. Full article here

 

World Watch Monitor: India’s Religious Freedom Failings ‘Enshrined in Constitution’

16 February 2017

Religious freedom in India will never be achieved unless the country is willing to make substantial amendments to its constitution and legal framework, says a new report. It also asks the US to put human rights at the heart of trade and diplomatic interactions with India. Read more here

 

IHRC and the LANTOS Foundation Condemn Treatment of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

16 December 2016

The IHRC and Lantos Foundation condemn the police raid on the offices of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community headquarters in Pakistan. They urge the country’s government to protect the religious freedom and basic rights of Ahmadi Muslims. Full statement here

 

 

EUROPE

European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses : Russia declares the Bible “Extremist”

29 August 2017

The Vyborg City Court declared “extremist” the Russian version of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, a Bible published by Jehovah’s Witnesses in numerous languages. This decision marks the first time that the Bible has been banned in a country where the majority of its citizens claim to be Christian. Full article here

 

European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses : Russia’s Supreme Court Confirms Earlier Ruling to Criminalize Jehovah’s Witnesses

18 July 2017

In blatant disregard for Russia’s international commitments to protect religious freedom, the Supreme Court of Russia confirmed its earlier ruling that criminalized the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, The Association have appealed for justice to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee. Full article here

 

Preliminary findings of Country Visit to Albania by Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

17 May 2017

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, today praised the Albanian Government’s policies and practices to promote and protect inter-religious harmony and co-existence in the country. Full article here

 

A Common Word About Our Common Good.

12 May 2017

Joint release from the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches. The heads of both communities come together to emphasize the equality of rights of women and men, to take joint responsibility for our common future and commit ourselves to engage together with others. Full release here

 

World Watch Monitor: US Watchdog Adds Russia to its List of Worst Oppressors of Religion

27 April 2017

Religious freedom is in retreat worldwide, and for the first time Russia is among the world’s worst oppressors, according to America’s most prominent and influential scorecard on the issue. Read more here

 

UN rights experts urge Russia to drop Jehovah’s Witness lawsuit which threatens religious freedom

4 April 2017

Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts, including The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed. Read more here

 

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Forum 18: Uzbekistan- Extra Jail Terms, No Amnesty

5 October 2017

Relatives of two sisters imprisoned since November 2009 for holding Muslim meetings are disappointed they were not amnestied in September. Both had three-year terms added to their sentences in 2016. The younger, 48-year-old Mehrinisso Hamdamova, has a tumor which relatives say is now “huge”. Full article here

 

Forum 18: Turkmenistan- Pressure in Schools, Sackings, Haj Restrictions

4 October 2017

Teachers and police intimidate Jehovah’s Witness children in schools, including for refusing to wear the national flag. Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been sacked from state jobs. A student was expelled from university. This year had the smallest government-sponsored haj pilgrimage group since 2009. Full article here

 

Sudan Church Leader Interrogated After Refusing to Hand Property to State

4 October 2017

Sudanese police have detained and questioned eight church leaders in the last six weeks in what observers fear is an ongoing campaign by the government to seize control of the country’s churches. Read more here

 

UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion and Belief – Saudi Arabia: Official Hate Speech Targets Minorities

28 September 2017

Some Saudi state clerics and institutions incite hatred and discrimination against religious minorities, including the country’s Shia Muslim minority, Human Rights Watch said in a report released this week. Read more here

 

Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, encourage Tunisia to follow up lifting of marriage ban with more action on equality

26 September 2017

Tunisia is being encouraged to do more to tackle discrimination by a group of UN experts who have welcomed the abolition of a ban on Muslim women marrying men who are not of the same faith. Read more here

 

World Watch Monitor: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Confiscates Christian Literature As ‘Publicity Stunt’

26 September 2017

Photographs released by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard showing large quantities of confiscated Christian materials were a “publicity stunt” that reflected the Iranian regime’s fear of Christianity.  Read more here

 

Human Rights Watch: Algeria Should Accept Key UPR Recommendations on Freedoms

22 September 2017

Algerian authorities have a track record of resorting to criminal prosecutions against bloggers, journalists and media figures for peaceful speech, using articles in the penal code criminalizing “offending the president,” “insulting state officials” or “denigrating Islam.” Full statement

 

‘Milestone’ as UN votes to create team to collect evidence of IS’s Crimes

22 September 2017

Campaigners for Christian and Yazidi victims of the Islamic State group welcomed a vote at the United Nations yesterday (21 September), hailed as a “milestone”. Read more here

 

Forum 18: Georgia- Constitutional Changes to Impose Impermissible Freedom Restrictions?

21 September 2017

Constitutional changes already adopted in second reading would allow restrictions on freedom of religion and belief based on vague criteria, including “state [national] security or public safety”, an impermissible restriction. Full article here

 

Forum 18: Tajikistan- Id al-Adha Restrictions, Hak Returnee Celebrations Banned

12 September 2017

Teachers were banned from attending mosque on Muslim festival Id al-Adha. They and children were forced to attend school, even though the state declared it a holiday. Officials banned haj pilgrimage returnees from holding celebratory meals. Traditions Law amendments and increased punishments have come into force. Full article here

 

Middle East Concern Press Release: Iranian Christians on Trial Arrested in 2014 and 2016

18 July 2017

Following a hearing on 11th June 2017, Judge Ahmadzadeh issued his verdict on 3rd and 4th July. Pastor Victor was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, Mr. Naderi to 15 years and Mr. Asgari to 10 years, all with a 2-year travel ban. The families of these victims of severe injustices are calling on the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against them. MEC would encourage discrete advocacy to this end on their behalf.

 

Statement from the Assyrian Confederation of Europe regarding the Brussels conference on the Future of Christians in Iraq

30 June 2017

The Assyrian Confederation of Europe rejects the approach of Mr.Lars Adaktusson, regarding the conference he hosted on the premises of the EU Parliament between 28-30th June 2017, as the agenda driven approach of Mr Adaktusson contradicts his role as a neutral facilitator. Full statement here

 

Bahrain must end worsening human rights clampdown, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief says.

16 June 2017

A group of United Nations human rights experts has urged the Government of Bahrain to halt its orchestrated crackdown on civil society. Read more here

 

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed: Yemen Must Stop Persecution of Bahá’i Community

22 May 2017

The recent escalation in the persistent pattern of persecution of the Bahá’í community in Sana’a mirrors the persecution suffered by the Bahá’ís living in Iran. The UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB calls for an end to the persecution. Full statement here

 

Amnesty International: Yemen Bahá’i Community Faces Persecution at the Hands of Huthi-Saleh Authorities

28 April 2017

Amnesty International calls for the Huthi-Saleh authorities to immediately stop persecuting members of the Baha’I communit in Sana’a. Full statement here

Amal Clooney: ‘Yazidis in Iraq Are Islamic State Genocide Victims’

9 March 2017

The human rights lawyer, who represents victims of Isis rapes and kidnappings, told a UN meeting that what’s “shocking” is not just the group’s brutality but the “passive” response by the world’s nations to the campaign to investigate its crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. Read more here

 

APPG Calls for UK Government Action to Protect Yazidis

14 November 2016

On 15 November Brendan O’Hara MP initiated a debate  to call for the UK Government to provide treatment for Yazidi former sex slaves of Daesh in the UK. They are ineligible to come to the UK under the current refugee schemes as they are Iraqi not Syrian. Full release here

 

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Letter Regarding the Human Rights Situation in Sudan During the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

21 September 2017

The government continues to restrict freedom of religion and belief. In early 2017, officials in Khartoum announced they would demolish at least 27 churches within Khartoum. In May the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) building in Soba Aradi was demolished without notice by security officials. Read full letter here

 

NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA

World Watch Monitor: US Commission Urges Trump Administration to Prioritize International Religious Freedom

18 May 2017

An influential US government commission that monitors religious freedom around the world is urging President Donald Trump and his new administration to take concrete steps to make advocacy of universal religious rights a priority in American foreign policy. Read more here

 

GLOBAL

UN experts call for resistance as battle over women’s rights intensifies

28 June 2017

Women’s rights are facing an alarming backlash in many parts of the world, and it is critically important to press on with further setting of standards on gender equality, a group of UN independent experts* has warned. Read more here

States must act now to enable people to enjoy freedom of religion, says UN Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed.

7 March 2017

Countries around the world are being urged to act now to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief, by a United Nations expert. Mr. Shaheed expressed concern about a rise in the number of incidents of incitement to hatred, hostility, discrimination or violence based on religion or belief as well as, hate crimes by extremist groups, vigilante mobs and others. Read more here

 

World Watch Monitor: Nationalism in Asia, Islamic Extremism in Africa- the 2017 World Watch List

11 January 2017

One of the greatest increases in animosity towards Christians last year took place in India as a result of religiously motivated nationalism, according to the latest annual survey of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Read full article here

 

World Watch Monitor: Freedom of Religion or Belief ‘The Defining Issue of Our Time’

16 September 2016

Over 100 parliamentarians from 60 countries met this week in Berlin for a series of workshops and seminars under the title, “An Embattled Right: Protecting and Promoting Freedom of Religion of Belief”. Read more here

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