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  • 10 April 2014 : Council of Europe Resolution on protecting minors against sectarian aberrations

On 10 April 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed resolution 1992 (2014) dedicated to protecting minors against sectarian aberrations.
The draft resolution based on a report by Rudy Salles (France, PPE/DC) had been subject to strong opposition, in particular from associations for religious freedom which reproached him for condemning sectarian aberrations without, however, defining the word “sect”. In the end it was a heavily amended text which was adopted ; for example, the proposal to create national or regional information centres on movements of a sectarian nature was removed, as was that of adopting or reinforcing legislative measures on repressing abuse of psychological and/or physical weakness.
If the new text still does not set out to define a “sect”, it "calls on Member States to ensure that no discrimination is allowed on the basis of whether a movement is considered a sect or not, that no distinction is made between traditional religions and non-traditional religious movements, new religious movements or sects when it comes to the application of civil and criminal law, and that any measures to counter non-traditional religious movements, new religious movements or sects are aligned with human rights norms”.

  • 24 April 2013 : A Council of Europe resolution

On 24 April 2013 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 1928 (2013), Safeguarding human rights in relation to religion and belief and protecting religious communities from violence.

The Assembly calls especially on member States to « ensure equality of treatment before the State and public authorities of all individuals and communities regardless of religion, faith or non-religious beliefs » and to « accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service provided that the rights of others to be free from discrimination are respected and that the access to lawful services is guaranteed ». The Assembly further urges all States to « reaffirm that respect of human rights, democracy and civil liberties is a common basis on which they build their relations with third countries, and ensure that a democracy clause, incorporating religious freedom, is included in agreements between them and third countries ».
The resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe do not have legally binding force. They reflect a political will and encourage the Member States to act in certain areas.

  • 23 June 2010 : The Council of Europe and the full veil

On 23 June 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution and recommendation entitled ’Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia in Europe’ which mentions, in particular, attempts by certain European governments to regulate the wearing of the full veil. Resolution 1743 (2010) states that, although the wearing of the full veil "could pose a threat to the dignity and freedom of women", "a blanket ban could be counterproductive, by pushing families and the community to put pressure on Muslim women to stay at home. [...] Muslim women would suffer an additional exclusion if they had to leave educational establishments, stay away from public places and give up work outside of their community, so as not to break with their family tradition." In Recommendation 1927 (2010), the Parliamentary Assembly therefore invites Member States to "refrain from adopting a blanket ban on wearing the full veil or other religious clothing, but to protect women against physical and psychological violence and safeguard their free choice to wear or not wear a religious or other particular garment and to ensure that Muslim women have the same possibilities to participate in public life and engage in educational and professional activities".
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, added, in an open forum in the press ("Banning the burqa is useless", Le Monde, 27 May 2010) that this type of ban "might go against established human rights norms, in particular the right to privacy and personal identity and the freedom to manifest one’s religion or personal convictions". Even though, in some cases, the public interest requires that people show their faces for reasons of security or for identification purposes, "no one has succeeded in demonstrating that the wearing of the burqa and the niqab represents a danger for democracy and public safety, nor even that it poses a major problem for society".

  • 29 June 2007 : Recommendation 1805 (2007)

On Friday 29 June 2007, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation stating that : "National law should penalise statements that call for a person or a group of persons to be subjected to hatred, discrimination or violence on grounds of their religion."
The Assembly underlined that religious groups must tolerate critical statements and debates about their activities "provided that such criticism does not amount to intentional and gratuitous insults or hate speech and does not constitute incitement to disturb the peace or to violence and discrimination against adherents of a particular religion."
The Assembly also recommended laws on blasphemy to be reviewed since they often reflected the dominant position of one particular religion. States will have to ensure "that members of a particular religion are neither privileged nor disadvantaged under blasphemy laws and related offences".

Read the recommendation 1805 (2007) on "Blasphemy, religious insults and hate speech against persons on grounds of their religion".

D 19 octobre 2023   

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