International standards I3d

d) Observance of holidays and days of rest

1981 Declaration of the General Assembly

Art. 6 (h) : The right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief includes the freedom, "To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion or belief;".

Human Rights Committee general comment 22

Para . 4 : "The concept of worship extends to [.] the observance of holidays and days of rest."

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Excerpts of relevant paragraphs of 25 years mandate reporting practice (1986-2011)

E/CN.4/1987/35, para. 57:

"57. The freedom to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion or belief (art. 6 (h)) is particularly significant since it allows the faithful to perform a series of ceremonies and religious customs that often have cultural and traditional connotations. It is precisely this cultural aspect that is often viewed with suspicion by the authorities and combated by them. Thus, in one country, the religious practice of the circumcision of male children is not permitted; similarly, obstacles are placed in the way of religious traditions such as the celebration of marriage and funeral ceremonies according to the rites of a religion. In another country, certain rites and ceremonies peculiar to tribal religions have been banned. Elsewhere, it is extremely difficult in practice for the followers of a certain religion to bury their dead in accordance with religious ritual. Sometimes a conflict of interest is visible between religious requirements and health requirements, particularly in the case of children. Thus, in one country, the courts decided in certain cases against ritual practices when the latter were believed to constitute a direct danger to children's lives. On occasion, the conflict arises from the fact that the authorities fail to take account, in certain areas, of religious requirements concerning days of rest. In one country, a petition was presented to the authorities to enable the members of a sect to be exempted from sitting for examinations on a certain week-day considered by their faith as a complete day of rest, to which the authorities agreed. "

E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.1, paras. 48-49 (country visit to Pakistan):

"(i) Time off for Christian employees

48. As a result of the switch-over of the weekly holiday from Sunday to Friday in government and semi-government offices and corporations in 1977, Christian employees are granted time off on Sunday after 11 a.m. with a view to enabling them to offer their prayers.

(ii) Optional holiday

49. Employees belonging to minority communities are granted optional holidays liberally, to enable them to celebrate their religious holidays."

E/CN.4/1998/6/Add.1, paras. 37 and 47 (country visit to Australia):

"37. One of the characteristics of Australian Muslims is the importance of religious practice on Fridays and religious holidays. The call to prayer is allowed, but without microphones, except at the end of Ramadan. The Muslim representatives said that they had requested official recognition of religious days so that believers, i.e. adults in the workplace and young people in school, who so wished did not have to work on those days. It was also stated that the authorities approached responded positively to such requests. One representative of the Department of Training and Education in the State of New South Wales said that, if the Muslims insisted, religious holidays could be observed in public schools, as was already the case for the Jewish community. In reply to the Special Rapporteur's question on how requests by minorities could be reconciled with the concerns of the majority, a representative of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission explained that, while the Australian democratic system was based on a general preference for the majority, flexibility, compromise and pragmatism had to be demonstrated, according to the context.[...]

47. Australia 's community harmony and, in particular, the importance of inter-faith dialogue are two points that were stressed. In this connection, religious holidays are often an opportunity to invite the leaders of other communities and get to know them, their cultures and their religions, as well as to promote dialogue."

E/CN.4/2002/73/Add.1, paras. 29-32 and 125 (country visit to Argentina):

"Religious holidays

29. The act entitled "National Holidays and Non-working Days" of 14 June 1976 provides that Holy Thursday is a holiday.

30. Act No. 24571 (1995), entitled "Declaration of Non-working Days for Jewish Inhabitants", provides for paid holidays for the Jewish holy days of New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the Days of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Passover (Pesach).

31. Act No. 24757 (1996), entitled "Declaration of Non-working Days for Muslim Inhabitants", provides that the Muslim New Year (Hegira), the day after the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) and the day of the Holy Day of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) are holidays for all Muslims.

32. The two above-mentioned acts are supplemented by Act No. 25151 (1999), entitled "Pay of Workers on Jewish and Muslim Holidays". [...]

125. The Special Rapporteur notes with satisfaction the legislation adopted to grant recognition to the religious holidays of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, allow exemptions on religious grounds in schools and guarantee the right to conscientious objection for reasons of belief."

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Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
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