Call for written submissions – Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to the General Assembly

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, is preparing a report on antisemitism in accordance with his mandate to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles. The Special Rapporteur invites interested individuals and organizations, including but not limited to experts and organizations concerned with antisemitism, Jewish community leaders, policymakers, and academics, to provide input for the preparation of the report, which will be delivered to the UN General Assembly in September 2019.

Submissions can be sent to submissionsreligion@ohchr.org until 7 June 2019.

All input will be treated confidentially by the Special Rapporteur and his team and for the sole purpose of preparing this report.

While all submissions are welcome, the Special Rapporteur particularly invites information on the following issues:

Information on Antisemitic Incidents

  • Cases of antisemitic violence, harassment, or desecration targeting individuals or their property, educational facilities or Jewish cultural or religious sites;
  • Incidents of discrimination against persons due to their actual or perceived Jewish identity;
  • Incidents of advocacy of antisemitic hatred that constitutes incitement to  discrimination, hostility, or violence;
  • Incidents of dissemination of antisemitic propaganda, negative stereotyping of Jews, charges that Jews conspire to harm humanity, and other forms of antisemitic hate speech,  including Holocaust denial, as enumerated in the the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) Working Definition of Antisemitism, including on the internet;

While the Special Rapporteur welcomes aggregated data on these subjects, to the extent possible, he would also welcome receiving detailed information about specific antisemitic incidents, including the following:

  • When and Where. Date, time and precise location of the incident (country, region, municipality, area).
  • What happened. Detailed circumstances of the incident.
  • Perpetrator(s). Information on who allegedly committed the violation. If known, an explanation of the reasons why they are suspected of being responsible and whether they have any relation with national authorities.
  • Victim(s). Name of the individual(s), people or community that has been or are at risk as a result of the alleged fact.
  • Action taken by national authorities: Has the matter been reported to the national administrative or judicial authorities? If applicable, what actions have been taken by the relevant authorities to remedy the situation?
  • Action taken before international bodies: Has any legal action been initiated before international or regional human rights mechanisms? What is the state of development of these actions?

Information on Laws and Policies affecting the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief of Jews

  • Information on restrictions on religious observance and practices, vocation, education, residence, attire, diet, or rites of passage of Jews;
  • Information on any other limits on the capacity of Jews to manifest their  religious belief;
  • Information on discriminatory restrictions on the ability of Jews to worship or assemble in connection with the Jewish faith, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes;
  • Discriminatory restrictions on the ability of Jewish communities to do any of the following:
    • operate Jewish charitable or humanitarian institutions;
    • teach religious beliefs in places suitable for these purposes;
    • solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions;
    • write, issue and disseminate relevant religious publications;
    • train, appoint, elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of religious teachings.

Information on State Responses to Antisemitism

  • Information on whether States have adequately prohibited antisemitic hate crimes and discrimination against Jews in national legislation;
  • Information on whether States have adopted official policies on antisemitism, including adoption of the IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism and incorporation into official policies and training of officials, and best practices in this area;
  • Information on whether States have designated high-level envoys or focal points on antisemitism, and best practices in this area;
  • Information on whether States are meeting the security needs of Jewish communities, and best practices in this area;
  • Information on whether States are adequately undertaking data collection, monitoring and reporting of antisemitic hate crimes; and best practices in this area;
  • Information on whether States are promptly, impartially and effectively investigating alleged antisemitic hate crimes and incidents of discrimination against Jews and punishing perpetrators;
  • Information on the adequacy and effectiveness of training provided to law enforcement and other public officials on antisemitism, hate crimes, and the prohibition of discrimination;
  • Information on State responses to antisemitic hate speech by politicians, governmental officials or media professionals;
  • Information on State action to counter  advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, including on the internet, and whether State responses respect the right to freedom of opinion or expression;
  • Information on remedies provided by the State to victims of antisemitic acts;
  • Information on the degree to which victims of antisemitism have access to justice and support mechanisms and are aware of their rights;
  • Information on the willingness of members of the Jewish community to report antisemitic incidents to the authorities, and best practices by States in encouraging this;
  • Best practices for States regarding Holocaust education and the promotion of tolerance, inclusion and non-discrimination.

Best Practices by Non-State Actors

  • Examples of effective strategies by non-state actors, in particular media, internet, and telecommunications companies, and by civil society, to respond to and combat antisemitism;
  • Examples of effective intra- or inter-religious or multi-faith dialogues and social action campaigns to promote tolerance and combat antisemitism.

Who is the Special Rapporteur?

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 Member States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

Special Rapporteurs are selected on the basis of their expertise and experience in the area of their mandate, personal integrity, independence and impartiality, and objectivity. They are not employed by the United Nations and receive no remuneration for their UN work.

Dr. Shaheed is Deputy Director of the Essex Human Rights Centre. He was the first Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the termination of the previous Commission on Human Rights mandate in 2002. A career diplomat, he has twice held the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives. He led Maldives' efforts to embrace international human rights standards between 2003 and 2011. He has been serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief since November 2016.

The work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief resolves to protect and promote the human right to freedom of religion or belief to advance security, tolerance and inclusion for both the individual and for our societies. Freedom of religion or belief, for anyone who professes either, is one of the fundamental elements in their conception of lifeand should be fully respected andguaranteed. It is also fundamental to the attainment of the goals of peace, stability, and social justice.

The mandate draws upon the frameworks developed by the international community, under the aegis of the United Nations, to promote mutual understanding and respect for diversity by advancing freedom of religion or belief, tolerance and non-discrimination. This includes the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,[1] Resolution A/HRC/16/18 on Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief,[2] the Rabat Plan for Action for the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred[3]  (which explores the relationship between freedom of expression and hate speech, especially in relation to religious issues) as well as international commitments that recognize the role of civil society and religious communities in advancing tolerance and inclusion. The Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes, known as the “Fez Process”,[4] sets out a broad range of ways in which religious leaders can prevent incitement to violence and contribute to peace and stability. The 2017 Beirut Declaration and its accompanying 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights” [5] provides an additional platform for faith-based and civil society actors to enhance cohesive, peaceful and respectful societies.

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[1] http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/36/a36r055.htm

[2] https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/16session/a.hrc.res.16.18_en.pdf

[3] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/SeminarRabat/Rabat_draft_outcome.pdf

[4] https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/Plan%20of%20Action%20Advanced%20Copy.pdf

[5] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Press/Faith4Rights.pdf

 


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Contact

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Fax: (+41) 22 917 90 06

E-mail: freedomofreligion@ohchr.org or urgent-action@ohchr.org

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