This is a copy of the following Press Release edited by www.ReligionLaw.co.uk so as to exclude the other issues dealt with by the UN Commission which do not relate to Defamation of Religion. The Full press release is available.
COMMISSION ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON COMBATING DEFAMATION OF RELIGIONS
Commission on Human Rights MIDDAY 12 April 2005
In the resolution on combating the defamation of religions, adopted by a roll-call vote of 31 in favour to 16 against, with five abstentions, the Commission expressed deep concern at negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief still in evidence in some regions of the world. It strongly deplored physical attacks and assaults on businesses, cultural centres and places of worship of all religions as well as targeting of religious symbols. The Commission called on the international community to initiate a global dialogue to promote a culture of tolerance and peace based on respect for human rights and religious diversity and urged States, non-governmental organizations, religious bodies and the print and electronic media to support and promote such a dialogue.
Speaking in explanations of the vote before the vote were Sri Lanka, Netherlands (on behalf the European Union), United States, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Canada, India, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala and China
Action on Resolution on Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and All Forms of Discrimination
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2005/L.12) on combating defamation of religions, adopted by a roll-call vote of 31 in favour to 16 against, with five abstentions, the Commission expressed deep concern at negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief still in evidence in some regions of the world; strongly deplored physical attacks and assaults on businesses, cultural centres and places of worship of all religions as well as targeting of religious symbols; noted with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001; expressed deep concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism; and further expressed deep concern at programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at the defamation of religions, in particular when supported by Governments.
The Commission stressed the need to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers through political institutions and organizations, that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence; urged States to provide, within their respective legal and constitutional systems, adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions; and urged States to ensure equal access to education for all without discrimination of any kind. The Commission also called on the international community to initiate a global dialogue to promote a culture of tolerance and peace based on respect for human rights and religious diversity and urged States, non-governmental organizations, religious bodies and the print and electronic media to support and promote such a dialogue. It also requested the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to continue to present a report on the situation of Muslims and Arab peoples in various parts of the world and the discrimination faced by them.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (31): Argentina, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.
Against (16): Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Abstentions (5): Armenia, Honduras, India, Peru and Republic of Korea.
Absent (1): Gabon.
SUGEESHWARA GUNARATNA (Sri Lanka) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that Sri Lanka had spoken out on the need to avoid defamation of any religion and to afford respect for all, and support for this resolution was based on respect for pluralism and this respect.
IAN DE JONG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said in an explanation of vote before the vote that the European Union valued strengthened dialogue among civilizations for mutual understanding, and held that religious intolerance was a matter of grave concern. The Commission had been provided with ample, concrete evidence that discrimination based on religion or belief was not confined to one religion or belief, or to one part of world. The Member States of the European Union recognized fully the existence of intolerance on the European continent, and in their own countries, and had detailed some of the many activities taken at the European Union and regional levels to combat that scourge. In previous years, the European Union had expressed concern over the general approach, conceptual framework and language of this resolution. Now, some new elements had been added, including the criticism of statements at human rights fora and the cancellation of a meeting. The aim of the European Union would have been to achieve a broader, more balanced text, based on the right to freedom of religion or belief and of expression. The European Union would like to thank the main sponsors for their comprehensive exchange of views, and hoped that the negotiating process would be improved in the future. The ultimate objective in promoting exchanges on religions or beliefs was to be comprehensive. However, as the general tone remained unchanged, the European Union would call for a vote, and would vote against the draft.
LEONARD LEO (United States) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that the United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and practice and recognized that each country must be acquainted with the right of each of its citizens to worship freely, which also meant that countries must not close their eyes to attacks against individuals who were persecuted for practicing their faith. The United States supported the concept of the resolution and agreed with its intent. The resolution was, however, incomplete in that it failed to address attacks against all religions and must also include language pertaining to education and the use of media in the defamation of religion.
RHADYS ABREN DE POLANCO (Dominican Republic) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that the Dominican Republic condemned the defamation of all religions, and this was why its Constitution consecrated the freedom of belief. There were religions other than Islam that were subject to defamation, and it was a shame this was not mentioned in the text, as it would have produced a more balanced resolution. This was why the Dominican Republic would have to vote against the draft, and it was hoped that the resolution next year would be more balanced.
J. BENJAMIN ZAPATA (Honduras) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that although Honduras was in favour of combating defamation of religions, the resolution showed a lack of balance in many articles, with too much repetition about one single religion. Judaism and Christianity should be included. If one religion was mentioned, all religions should be mentioned. Honduras would abstain from the vote for this reason.
HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN (Canada) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that religious intolerance was matter of great concern for all around the world. The promotion of the freedom of religion or belief and tolerance were critical elements in the country's work to protect human rights at home and abroad. With regard to this draft, Canada was troubled by the fact that protection of religion as such, rather than the rights of adherents, including those belonging to religious minorities, was the topic. The draft also stressed the protection of one religion above all others. Moreover, in the text, issues of religion and racism and tolerance were mixed, so that they did not promote greater understanding but only confused the issue. Canada would vote against the resolution, and invited other States to do likewise.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that India firmly opposed the defamation and negative stereotyping of any religion, including Islam. Terrorism should not be associated with a religious act. The subject should be addressed in agenda items on civil and political rights and not racism. The resolution should have addressed all other religions and not just Islam. India would abstain in the resolution.
LUIS VARELA QUIROS (Costa Rica) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that Costa Rica would vote in favour of the resolution on the defamation of religions. It was however regretted that it continued to be limited and restricted, even though some changes had been made in the text. It was hoped that next year the resolution would have a more universal language, where the threats that other religions suffered would be considered. However, Costa Rica would vote in favour to show that it promoted respect and constructive dialogue between religions.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said in an explanation of the vote before the vote that Cuba would vote in favour of the draft resolution, as it attached a lot of importance to the freedom of religion and therefore to combating any type of discrimination. Religions of African origin had been subject to defamation in Cuba by the dominant class, and this was used as an ideological and political factor to control power in many parts of the world. The international community could not turn its back on what had been happening in the world, with some sectors of power practicing defamation of some religions, running wars in order to impose their domination through culture. It was important to have balance in this resolution, and there was concern for the problem of Islam as it was the subject of deep campaigns of defamation as shown in Hollywood films over the last few years, as part of the plan by the transnational centres of power. This was why this was an important resolution. No religion should be defamed, but Islam required special treatment.
LARS PIRA (Guatemala) speaking in explanation of the vote before the vote said Guatemala did not accept the defamation of any religion whose practices and principles were consistent with respect for human rights. Guatemala defended the principles of tolerance and non-discrimination, and found the draft's lack of balance regrettable. It privileged one religion above others. That selectivity meant that defenders of faiths in other areas of the world were left out. Guatemala would vote against this, and any other resolution, which did not cover the issue comprehensively.
LA YIFAN (China) speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote said China supported the resolution and would vote in its favour. The Government of China was against the defamation of any religion, including Islam. China supported the draft resolution because it had observed the situation in various countries since 11 September and especially the treatment of people of Islamic faith.