Thursday, November 01, 2012

UN Special Rapporteur Focuses On Right To Religious Conversion and Freedom From Forced Conversion

According to a UNHR press release, last week United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, presented to the General Assembly a report prepared in August (full text) that focuses on the right of religious conversion, as well as the right not to be forced to convert. The report says in part:
Countless reports of grave violations  of the right to freedom of religion or belief relate to converts and those who try to convert others by means of non-coercive persuasion. This has become a human rights problem of great concern which occurs in various parts of the world and seems to stem from different motives. For instance, abuses are perpetrated in the name of religious or ideological truth claims, in the interest of promoting national identity or protecting societal homogeneity, or under other pretexts such as maintaining political and national security. While some undue restrictions on the rights of converts or those trying non-coercively to convert others are undertaken by State agencies, other abuses, including acts of violence, stem from widespread societal prejudices. Violations in this sensitive area also include forced conversions  or reconversions, again perpetrated either by the State or by non-State actors....