Deterioration of Religious Freedom in Eastern Europe

Side event at 37th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations (Geneva)

The situation of the Religious Freedom is a reason of concern for several NGOs.

The 15th March 2018, on the occasion of  the 37th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations (Geneva), the  french NGO with United Nations Consultative Status, the Coordination of the Associations and the People for Freedom of Conscience (CAP LC) organised an event on the topic of the Deterioration of Religious Freedom in Eastern Europe. It was focused  on those following countries where this deterioration is unfortunately the most relevant : Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary and Russian Federation.

To enlighten on this concern, five Human Rights and Religious Freedom experts took the floor:

Ms Lea PEREKRESTS the Deputy Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, HRWF talked about fair trials and religious freedom in Romania.

She has most recently engaged in research regarding the independence of the judiciary in Romania in relation to freedom of religion or belief. HRWF’s research has found that a lack of fair trials, in combination with stigma towards new religious movements, has created a system that can ‘successfully’ bring false charges against any religious movement. This has become particularly dangerous for religious minorities and new religious movements, such as the MISA group.”

Ms Camelia Marin, Director of Soteria International, talked about the Struggles and Challenges for Freedom of Belief in our society and the case of the Czech Republic.

She refered to the fact that public fear and ignorance regarding unfamiliar religious traditons has increased. Discrimination and hate speech increasingly target religious minorites or New Religious Movements and the public debate is increasingly harsh on any group that is considered unfamiliar to society.

Ms Patricia DUVAL, attorney in law specialized on human rights talked about the violations of Freedom of Religion for the minorities in Hungary .She talked about the situation of the Church of Scientology in Hungary and the consequences for religious freedom of the registration and regulation laws for churches .

Mr. Ivan Arjona Pelado, Executive Director of the European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights of the Church of Scientology talked about the violations of Freedom of Conscience in Russia – An Open Letter to dialogue. He explained that: “The Church of Scientology is a friend of the Russian people and authorities, and its intention is to help ensure and create better living conditions for all Russians independently from their educational level, race, color or creed”, he also explained how some individuals within the government are creating a bad image to the Russian Federation by “violating the human rights of people like some Scientologists who are being groundlessly accused of things they have never done”. He ended by making: “an official call to a fair dialogue between the Russian Federation and the Church of Scientology to end any and all missunderstoods, and thus work together for a better society”.

Mr Alessandro AMICARELLI, Chairman of the European Federation of Freedom of Belief, FOB talked about A Call to the Nations for the Implementation of Freedom of Religion and Belief. He introduced the action of Freedom Of Belief  emphasising that a number of violations, persecutions and denials of rights as well as investigations and police raids and attacks on minority groups occur and are being registered every year across Europe as reported by NGOs and human rights associations and they regard both individuals and religious groups as a whole.Often partisan TV programs and unfair journalists, in conjunction with anti-cultic and anti-spiritual organisations such as the French FECRIS.