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September 2007


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Institute Commends Renewal of UN Religious Freedom Rapporteur Mandate

Washington, DC – The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has decided Monday to renew the UN mandate authorizing the continued work of a UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The decision was reached after two days of deliberation in which Council members participated in discussing both the improvement and continuation of the mandate, viewing it as, “an important contribution in helping identify new challenges, developing new mechanisms and building peace at the international level.” In concluding remarks, Council members noted that the mandate’s renewal was, “essential to ensure the protection and promotion of the human right to freedom of religion or belief.”

In addition to renewal of the Rapporteur’s mandate, the Council also is reviewing the re-appointment of the current Special Rapporteur, Dr. Asma Jahangir, a human rights lawyer who, in 1986, became a founding member of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. In 1998, she was appointed by then Secretary-General, Kofi Annan as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions where her work took her to Afghanistan, Central America, and Columbia. She began her tenure as the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2004.

In the past, Dr. Jahangir has worked on numerous issues dealing with religious freedom, including forced conversions, state-sponsored religious minority persecution, defamation of religions, discrimination against religions derogatorily designated as “sects”, analysis of legislation to ensure it complies with international religious freedom standards and the effects of religious intolerance on women. In early 2006, Dr. Jahangir and several UN Special Rapporteurs jointly filed a report outlining the current conditions facing Muslim detainees held in custody at Guantánamo Bay.“

The renewal of the UN mandate, and Dr. Jahangir’s reappointment as Special Rappoteur, is critical to ensure continued progress towards universal human rights and religious freedom for all” stated Joseph K. Grieboski, President of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy. “The Special Rapporteur has been an effective advocate for religious freedom throughout the world. We commend the HRC for their continued support for and proven commitment to the furtherance of human rights and religious freedom worldwide.”

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Anne Hidalgo non-suit by the 17th Magistrate’s Court

The 17th Magistrate’s Court ruled a non-suit for Anne Hidalgo after her complaint against Christian Cotten, President of Politique de Vie. This complaint followed the placing on the Internet by the latter of a tract signed by a « Committee to support Anne Hidalgo »; she contested any connection with issuing of this tract.

This tract was in fact a map of the new creeds in Paris. As the Coordination of Associations and Private People for Freedom of Conscience had revealed it, this map had indeed been made at the request of the Townhall of Paris and promoted by Anne Hidalgo herself : “In a first time we have done an inventory of features of sectarian movements in the capital and besides I thank the APUR which have realized a cartography we have distributed in the districts, to mayors of districts and which is very useful as it enables to identify the most known implantations of sectarian movements operating in Paris. But, besides this work that we have also done with the Inter-Ministerial Mission in charge of the fight against sectarian phenomena (MIVILUDES)…” Report of the Council of Paris.

Anne Hidalgo’s defense pleaded that to make an allusion to this map, as well as to a list of symptoms enabling to identify the members of new creeds (“Many phone calls” “abundant mail” “meetings during the week or the week-end”, “long times of reading”, etc) “ridiculed the action lead by the City of Paris.”

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