HUNGARY: New Religion Law at Variance with OSCE Standards and the European Convention on Human Rights

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HUNGARY: New Religion Law at Variance with OSCE Standards and the European Convention on Human Rights

By FOREF Europe

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Viktor Orban

BUDAPEST, 25.09.2014 (FOREF) – The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe prepared following intervention for the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting and will present it on 30 September 2014 in Warsaw/Poland at the working session 13: Tolerance and non-discrimination II/ Intolerance against Christians and members of other religions. (See also a recent comment “A slippery Magyar slope” by The Economist. For Hungarian translation of the statement see below.)

Recommendations:

That the Government of Hungary, and specifically the Minister of Human Capacities, place back on the official registry of incorporated churches included in the appendix of Act CCVI (206) of 2011 those churches deregistered unconstitutionally and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by Parliament in 2011. Hungary should honor its international legal commitment to the European Convention and abide by the Court’s decision.

That Hungary should modify its church law so that legal recognition of churches is not determined by 2/3 vote of Parliament, something criticized in both the European Court and the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

That participating States to assist Hungary to harmonize its laws in accordance with the Helsinki standards and international human rights law.

Intervention:

The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF) is an independent, secular, civil society formation dedicated to defending the freedom of religion in accordance with international law.  We wish to express our deep concern about policies of the government of Hungary that violate Human Dimension commitments undertaken by the participating States in the Helsinki Final Act and in the Madrid, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Maastricht documents.  These policies have resulted in arbitrary discrimination against religious communities, and have given the state illegal and inappropriate power to interfere in religious life.

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JAPAN: Forced De-Conversions Continue.

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JAPAN: Husband and wife abducted and confined for the purpose of forced religious de-conversion 

By Human Rights Without Frontiers

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Handschellen

TOKYO, 11.09.2014 (HRWF) – On July 26th, 2014, two members of the Unification Church in Japan, Mr. and Mrs. S., both in their 40’s, were kidnapped by their respective relatives under the direction of an Evangelical Minister, Mamoru Takawaza, leaving their two children behind.

This is an additional case of abduction of religious minorities’ followers for the purpose of forced de-conversion in Japan. Families influenced by prejudice have resorted to Evangelical ministers over the last thirty years for advice on abducting and confining their over-age children to have them “persuaded” under constraint to recant their minority faith.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee during its sixth periodic review of Japan expressed concern, in its Concluding Observations released on 23rd July 2014, “at reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to new religious movements by members of their families in an effort to de-convert them.” The Committee recommended that Japan “should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief” pursuant to Article 18.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In spite of the clear recommendation made by the Committee, the Japanese police did not put an end immediately to Mr. and Mrs. S.’s confinement when they were asked to take action to rescue them.

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Joint Appeal by Religious Leaders

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Joint Appeal by Religious Leaders

Media Release by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan: signed by leading representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

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Prince Hassan

AMMAN, 24 July 2014 – In a media release by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, a tireless peace advocate in the Middle East, religious leaders appeal against acts of violence in the name of religion. This statement especially concerns the terrible events in Mosul, Iraq, and reminds the religious communities of their fundamental duty to prevent the abuse of religion in order to justify acts of violence. The appeal was signed by leading representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In recent days, we have read with horror about Christians being asked to leave the town of Mosul within twenty-four hours. We have also heard about the desecration of Christian holy spaces and their symbols – the bombing of churches and a cross being removed from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in Mosul.

These actions are an appalling blot on the proud tradition of pluralism in a region which has been home to Chaldeans, Assyrians and other Churches of the East for more than 1,700 years. Indeed the destruction caused by the violence has engulfed all of the diverse populations that make up Iraq – the Turkmens, the Yazidis, the Sunnis and Shias, Kurds and tens upon thousands of Arab families who have been uprooted from the region in fear of their lives. These horrors continue to unfold on a daily basis and follow a brutal period of fighting in Syria. Today, the United Nations estimates that one out of every three Syrians is in need of urgent humanitarian aid. We cannot stand by and watch idly, as the lives of the most vulnerable, our women and our children are destroyed in the name of religion.

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Japan’s Policy of Denial on Religious Freedom

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Japan’s Policy of Denial on Religious Freedom

By Aaron Rhodes, Co-authored by Patricia Duval and Willy Fautré

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Flag_and_map_of_Japan

TOKYO/WASHINGTON, 29 July 2014 (Huffington Post) – For decades, Japanese authorities have looked the other way when families have attempted to force adult children to recant their religious faith by abducting them and subjecting them to physical and psychological coercion. Japanese police have protected the perpetrators from prosecution, in effect colluding in such crimes and thus violating the victims’ human right to religious freedom.

Over the past four years, we have brought this tragic situation to the attention of the international community. It has been exposed in reports by the U.S. Department of State and by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. We have briefed numerous members of the Japanese Diet on the matter, even meeting with current Prime Minister Abe when he was an MP.

In February, we were informed by a representative of the Japanese Justice Ministry that they were aware that the UN Human Rights Committee was looking into the problem. But when the Committee met with a delegation of Japanese officials in Geneva during its review of Japan on 16 July to go over their list of concerns, the officials brazenly claimed they had no information about such cases. Following the review, the Human Rights Committee concluded that it was “concerned at reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to new religious movements by members of their families in an effort to de-convert them … [Japan] should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief.”

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JAPAN Forced change of religion: UN Human Rights Committee

JAPAN
Forced change of religion in Japan: UN Human Rights Committee denounces Tokyo’s policy of turning a deaf ear


UNHR-LogoHRWF (25.07.2014) – On 15-16 July, Japan’s human rights record was reviewed in the framework of the 111th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. During Japan’s sixth periodic review, the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right not to be coerced to change religion has been raised in detailed reports provided to the Committee by Human Rights Without Frontiers (Brussels) and by the Japanese Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Religious De-Conversion.

During the review, the German expert of the Committee, Ms. Seibert-Fohr, raised the issue of abductions and so-called “deprogramming” as she said. She explained that the Committee came to know about cases of abductions and forced religious de-conversions of members of the Unification Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses, that adults were abducted and confined by their families for up to six months or more, and that there was a lack of investigation and police search, under the justification that they were “with their families”. She explained that civil cases were brought but no injunction had been pronounced to her knowledge. She asked the Japanese government which steps it was going to take to remedy this situation.

The Japanese Government merely denied the existence of a problem by answering: “The examples cited, we are not aware of. When reports are received, we deal with this appropriately. The Ministry of Justice dealing with human rights, based on regulations, indicates that investigations should be made on cases and that is exactly what we do.”
Still, the Committee, in its Concluding Observations of July 24 said that it was “concerned at reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to new religious movements by members of their families in an effort to de-convert them (arts. 2, 9, 18, 26)” and it urged Tokyo to “take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief.”
For decades, Japanese authorities have turned a deaf ear to the complaints of numerous victims of abduction, confinement and attempts of change of religion under physical and psychological coercion. For decades, Japanese police have protected the perpetrators from prosecution letting such crimes continue and thus violating the victims’ human rights. Continue reading

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS FAILS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS FAILS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

 Threat of full-face veil to “open, personal relationships” trumps human rights

by FOREF Europe

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ECHR 1

Vienna, 3 July 2014 – FOREF EuropeBy upholding a French ban on wearing full-face veils, a common Muslim practice, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has failed to protect the religious freedom of Islamic women who choose the veil as an expression of their faith, according to the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe (FOREF), an independent nongovernmental monitoring group.

A French law banning wearing a full-face veil has been in force since 11 April 2011.  According to a press release issued by the Registrar of the Court, the ECHR “emphasized that respect for the conditions of ‘living together’ was a legitimate aim” for the French law, given that “the State had a ‘wide margin of appreciation’ as regards this general policy question…”

“By giving priority to a vague social goal over the fundamental human right to manifest one’s religious beliefs, the ECHR has undermined the freedom of religion with this ruling, ” according to Dr. Aaron Rhodes, president of FOREF.

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UKRAINE: FECRIS criticizes Maidan and persecutes Falun Gong!

UKRAINE:
FECRIS vice-president, Alexander Dvorkin, persona non grata in Ukraine, criticizes the Maidan movement

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

KYIV,  12.05.2014 (HRWF) – Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of FECRIS (*) and chairman of the Russian Association of Centres for the Study of Religions and Sects, has been complaining in numerous Russian media in the last few weeks that he was denied entry in Ukraine because of the international “sectarian lobby” behind the Maidan movement in Kyiv.

 

RUSSIA: Setback for anti-missionary law

Dvorkin had been invited by the Archbishop of Lugansk and Alchevsk Mitrofan (Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate) to give some lectures about sects on 9-10 April in Lugansk (Eastern Ukraine). He was denied entry in Ukraine at the airport of Donetsk and sent back to Russia.

The official reason justifying his deportation was that he had been seen with the wife of Gubarev, the self-proclaimed governor of Donetsk.

During a broadcast of the Russian radio station “Komsomolskaïa Pravda”, Dvorkin denied any link with Gubarev and accused the international “sectarian lobby” of standing behind “the coup of Kyiv” as well as his deportation.

Like other pro-Russian and Russian Orthodox extremists, Dvorkin discredited the Maidan movement, saying that the Acting President, Alexander Tourtchynov was a Baptist – which is true -, his Prime Minister Arseni Yatseniuk is a Scientologist his sister chairs a major scientologist organization in the USA – both accusations spread by Interfax-Religion, a Russian press agency, and checked as false by Human Rights Without Frontiers (**).

With such allegations, pro-Russian extremists in Ukraine want to show that the Maidan movement is an American plot supported by non-Orthodox/ anti-Orthodox new religious movements and that “foreign sects” are now in power in Kyiv with some extreme-right elements.

(*) European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects
(**) See http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=11127 (5 March 2014)

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UKRAINE:
FECRIS correspondent in Ukraine campaigns with China against Falun Gong in Ukraine

By Willy Fautré/Igor Shershuny, Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (12.05.2014) – The Ukrainian National Center Of Religious Safety And Help To Victims Of Destructive Cults Organisation “Dialogue” a FECRIS correspondent in Ukraine, has launched a campaign against Falun Gong practitioners. It has published the following article on its website under the title “The Falun Gong sect recruits Kherson residents under the guise of an art exhibition”:

The Kherson branch of the Union of Artists of Ukraine for two weeks made available its showroom in Ushakov street, 30/1 to the Chinese Falun Gong sect to be able to recruit citizens. On 15th April the sectarians announced the opening of the Chinese painting exhibition “Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance”.

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