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Liberté de religion - Dialogue intéractif du CDH avec le Rapporteur spécial - Communiqué de presse (extraits) Français
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Source: Human Rights Council
12 March 2009



UNOG
THE UNITED NATIONS
OFFICE AT GENEVA


HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON REPORTS ON
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF AND ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Human Rights Council
MORNING
12 March 2009


The Human Rights Council this morning heard the presentation of reports by the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief and on human rights defenders and then held an interactive dialogue on them.
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Reports on Freedom of Religion and on Human Rights Defenders

The Council has before it the
report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir (A/HRC/10/8 and Adds.1-4).

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Addendum two is the report of the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory from 20 to 27 January 2008, focusing on a number of issues of concern including the preservation and protection of religious sites; the preferential treatment of Orthodox Judaism; and the advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The Special Rapporteur notes that liberty of movement, including access to places of worship, is restricted, in particular for Palestinian Muslims and Christians, through the existing system of permits, visas, checkpoints and the Barrier. While Israel informed the Special Rapporteur that those restrictions were necessary for security reasons, she emphasizes that any measure taken to combat terrorism must comply with States’ obligations under international law. The Special Rapporteur recommends, inter alia, that all parties bind themselves legally to protect the rights of religious minorities and pay particular attention to include comprehensive guarantees for equality and non-discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. Moreover, she recommends that the Government issue non-selective regulations in order to protect and preserve religious sites on a non-discriminatory basis. Lastly, in both the State of Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be effectively investigated, prosecuted and punished.
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Presentation of Reports on Freedom of Religion and on Human Rights Defenders
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Ms. Jahangir drew attention to the fact that her report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory was based on a mission undertaken in January 2008, and did not refer to the latest developments in Gaza. She had noted that society in these areas was polarized along religious lines. The conflict had had an adverse impact on the right of individuals and communities to worship freely and many Muslims and Christians were impeded from worshipping at some of their most holy places because of an elaborate system of permits, visas and checkpoints and by the barrier.
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Statements by Concerned Countries

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AHARON LESHNO YAAR (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, thanked Ms. Jahangir for her objective and balanced report on her mission to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. While Israel might not fundamentally agree with all of her conclusions, the report complied with the Code of Conduct and fairly addressed the issues under the Special Rapporteur's mandate. As Israel strongly supported the freedom of religion or belief, and took great pride in its religious pluralism, it highly commended the Special Rapporteur's recognition that there was no religious persecution by the State against religious minorities. Israel was proud to be the home to an array of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and Baha'i religious communities. In Israel, the Supreme Court had broadly interpreted Israel's basic laws to develop an "Israeli-made" bill of rights, and in that regard the freedom of religion or belief was seen as being part and parcel of the right to human dignity. And, as noted by the Special Rapporteur, Israel's Supreme Court had, in practice, safeguarded the freedom of religion or belief.

Israel had embraced religious pluralism and opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of Jews, Muslims, Christians and those of other faiths that made pilgrimages each year to holy sites within the Holy Land. In just a few months time, at the invitation of President Peres, Pope Benedict XVI would join the masses in a pilgrimage to Israel. It was asked what further steps the Special Rapporteur would take to secure visits to other countries in the Middle East?

IMAD ZUHAIRI (
Palestine), speaking as a concerned country on the report of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief, thanked the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Jahangir, for her well-prepared report. The report spoke of several violations made by the occupying power through its constant excavations of historic cites, including in particular the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Those violations and consequent constraints to the freedom of religion and belief were also a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, given that all citizens had a guaranteed right for places of worship. The conclusions of the High Commissioner in her recent report to the Council asked the occupying forces to take off the screws for religious personnel to have access to religious places of worship. The recent violations that Israel caused in the recent events in Gaza were also an example of their continued violation of this right, as many places of worship had been destroyed.

Palestine stressed that in many cases historic mosques were transformed into either a military site or dance clubs. This reflected further Israel’s measures of total indifference to places of worship and to believers. With regard to access to places of worship as noted in the report of the Special Rapporteur, there was an agreement between Palestinian-Israel authorities which managed this in an agreement on places of worship; however this was no longer valid due to Israel’s invasion of all Palestinian territories. Despite this Palestine remained open to discuss this if Israel ended its occupation. Palestine called on Israel to respect the will of the international community and urged them to reconsider their claim that such acts were legitimatized on the basis of terrorism. Palestine also made this call Israel in this context following the killing of 40 Muslims during prayers in the Jericho mosque a few years ago. Palestine called for an end to the occupation, because it was the most atrocious violation of all human rights.
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AMR ROSHDY HASSAN (Egypt) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and her addendum regarding her visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, this report gave the impression that Palestine and Israel were happy neighbours, and lived peacefully side-by-side; it ignored the fact that Israel was an occupying power. The report said nothing about this fact, and addressed the Palestinian Authority as though it was an independent State. Every human being's inherent right to life made it incumbent on him or her to fight terrorism. The Special Rapporteur had vindicated Israel from everything it was doing, and described everything the Palestinians were doing as terrorism. Did the Special Rapporteur have a definition of terrorism, and was there a distinction between terrorism and a people's legitimate right to resist occupation, Egypt asked.

Did the Special Rapporteur have any comment on anything Israel was doing to the Palestinians, and whether this had any relation to State terrorism, Egypt asked. When the Special Rapporteur merely referred to the Israeli aggression as a "development", then this raised many questions. Did the Special Rapporteur believe that Israel's denial of Palestinians right to self-determination was impeding their freedom of religion or not, and what was the impact of the occupation on their religious freedoms; and did she genuinely believe that the way she was conducting her mandate was relevant to the issue that was being discussed or not?
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IBRAHIM SAIED MOHAMED AL-ADOOFI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, ... In the Special Rapporteur’s report on freedom of religion or belief, paragraph 30 of the report noted the restrictions imposed on Palestinians to places of worships, and therefore the Arab Group said there was a responsibility on behalf of the Israeli Government to ensure the right to life of its citizens and required the authorities to take effective measures, rather than taking the measures they had to combat terrorism. The Arab Group in this context asked for further explanations as to why there was this obvious bias which espoused the Israeli viewpoint. The Arab Group also asked for the Special Rapporteur’s view on the excavations taking place in historic and religious places and why had they not be referred to in her report?
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