Framework for Communications - IV 2


2. Right to life, right to liberty


Art. 6:

"1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court."

Art. 9 (1): "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law."

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/40 (paragraph 4 (f)) and
Human Rights Council 6/37 (paragraph 9 (i))

Urges States to ensure that on account of religion or belief "no one within their jurisdiction is deprived of the right to life, liberty, or security of person, […] subjected to torture or arbitrary arrest or detention […] and to bring to justice all perpetrators of violations of these rights;".

Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50

Para. 1: "In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, capital punishment may be imposed only for the most serious crimes, it being understood that their scope should not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences."

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

E/CN.4/1993/62, para. 79:

"79. The Special Rapporteur has noted, for example, that the reward for the killing of Mr. Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses, in pursuance of the religious ruling (fatwa) which had been issued against him, has been increased, a concern which is also shared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Countries which are parties to the International Covenants on Human Rights are obliged to respect the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief of all persons. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to both Covenants, the Special Rapporteur would like to recall article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and emphasize that a decision which has not been issued by an independent tribunal where the accused would be entitled to defend himself with the assistance of legal counsel, to call witnesses and to exercise the right of appeal cannot be accepted. Offering a reward for the killing of such a person constitutes an incitement to crime and a call to religious hatred which is liable to legal prosecution in all countries where the rule of law prevails. "

E/CN.4/2005/61, paras. 41-42:

"41. On the basis of the information submitted to her, the Special Rapporteur notes that in a number of countries violations of freedom of religion or belief are due to interreligious tensions or conflicts or to situations where one religion is predominant and does not tolerate the presence of religious minorities. Whether the acts committed in these situations constitute violations of freedom of religion or belief only, or are also other forms of human rights violations, their perpetrators are often non-State actors even if, in many cases, State authorities have been implicated to varying degrees.

42. The Special Rapporteur insists in this respect that the human rights obligations of States are not limited to abstaining from committing direct violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Their obligations also consist in ensuring the free exercise of freedom of religion or belief by protecting religious minorities and enabling them to practise their faith in all security. States also have an obligation to bring the perpetrators of acts of violence or of other acts of religious intolerance to justice and to promote a culture of religious tolerance."

A/65/207, paras. 11-13:

"11. As evidenced in the Special Rapporteur’s reports on cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, [A/HRC/13/40/Add.1, A/HRC/10/8/Add.1, A/HRC/7/10/Add.1, A/HRC/4/21/Add.1, E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.1 and E/CN.4/2005/61/Add.1.] many individuals have been deprived of their right to life, liberty or security of person because of religion or belief and have been subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention and torture on that account. Those human rights violations seem to particularly affect members of religious minorities. Their vulnerable situation is aggravated when Governments target religious minorities by registering names and harassing those individuals. States are not only obliged to protect their own citizens; they also must ensure that no one within their jurisdiction suffers from human rights abuses and must bring to justice all perpetrators of violations of these rights.

12. Interreligious or intrareligious tensions, if not adequately addressed, may lead to large-scale communal violence. Such tensions have unfortunately caused the death of numerous individuals. While noting that the reasons for such violence may be manifold and complex, the Special Rapporteur has also observed that the violence often unfolds along religious lines and that the instigators of this violence find that they can gain more support if they put their arguments in religious terms. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate that States are obliged to investigate any violence that occurred, including the identification and prosecution of alleged perpetrators, and allow victims to file claims for the damage they have suffered. States must also ensure the protection and security of members of religious communities which may be targeted and which should be entitled to practise their religions freely and without any obstacles, including those placed by non-State actors.

13. Religious convictions are occasionally put forward to justify certain harmful practices and in some States these are incorporated in domestic legislation. For example, in a mission report the Special Rapporteur analysed certain forms of punishment contained in sharia penal codes. She came to the conclusion that the punishments of stoning or amputation constitute at least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that is prohibited in absolute terms by various international conventions. [See report on the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Nigeria (E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.2, paras. 68 and 100) and her follow-up table (]"

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Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
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