“On this Day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief” Antonio Guterres, UN Sec. Gral.

Human Rights Related to Freedom of Religion or Belief

Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. They are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Upholding these rights plays an important role in the fight against all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.

The open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.

Furthermore, the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.

Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

There are continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, including against persons belonging to religious communities and religious minorities around the world, and the number and intensity of such incidents, which are often of a criminal nature and may have international characteristics, are increasing.

That is why the General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/73/296, titled “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” strongly condemning continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.

The Member States reaffirmed their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomsoever committed, regardless of their motivation, and reiterated that terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.

The General Assembly decided to designate 22 August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

The Day comes right after the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, 21 August.

Why Do We Mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.

Declaration by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the European Union, on the occasion of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief

Source: Council of the European Union

On this first International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, we pay tribute to all those around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks because of their religion or belief. Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it.

There were many tragic extremist attacks during the last year. Believers from any faith, as well as non-believers in many parts of the world continue to suffer from violence and persecution. They face incitement to hatred and violence and hate crimes by state or non-state actors or both.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion are enshrined in Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union and protecting this right is a duty for the EU and its Member States. EU legislation obliges Member States to penalise the intentional public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to, among others, religion or belief.

The EU has always been at the frontline in promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief. The guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief approved in 2013, reaffirm that state institutions have a duty to guarantee freedom of religion or  belief, and to protect individuals from violence based on the actual or assumed religion or belief of the targeted persons, or based on the religious or convictional tenets of the perpetrators. Violence perpetrated under the pretext of a religious prescription or practice, such as violence against women and girls including “honour” killings, female genital mutilation, child early and forced marriages as well as violence perpetrated  against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is also unacceptable. 

Majorities in one country are minorities elsewhere. Marginalisation and scapegoating of persons belonging to religious minorities can be an early warning sign of more severe persecution, as well as a wider crackdown on the whole society. Preventive measures are needed to combat religious hatred, incitement and violence related to religious persecution. The EU has and will continue to increase its support for such measures promoting freedom of religion or belief.

Perpetrators need to be held accountable, violence prevented and victims rehabilitated. Tangible progress can be made through multilateralism and collective action. This is why the EU leads a Resolution on freedom of religion or belief at the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly every year. If a society allows for the persecution of one minority, it lays the ground for persecution of any community. An attack on one minority is an attack on all of us. This is why we keep committed to acting all together.

The UN recognizes and gives Special Consultative Status to the Foundation created by Scientology in Spain

The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations grants special Consultative Status to the Foundation for the Improvement of Life, Culture and Society[i].

The Board of Trustees of the Foundation for the Improvement of Life, Culture and Society [Foundation MEJORA], has just received a letter from the United Nations NGO Branch. The message informs them that the UN ECOSOC -at its Coordination and Management Meeting of July 23 of this year- has decided to grant the Foundation the recognition of ‘Organization with Special Consultative Status for ECOSOC’.

With this recognition, the Foundation will now have official representatives at the UN in Geneva, Vienna and New York. According to the United Nations website:

The consultative status is granted by ECOSOC and gives NGOs access to both ECOSOC and its many subsidiary bodies, the various United Nations human rights mechanisms,… and special events organized by the President of the General Assembly[ii]

https://research.un.org/es/ngo
Offical letter

being able to present written and oral statements to different organs such as the UN Human Rights Council, and even organize conferences of their own within the United Nations.

The UN approves the application for the Special status

The Foundation MEJORA was founded in 2015 by the Church of Scientology of Spain. It registered into the National Registry of Foundations under the Protectorate of the then Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. As stated in its original request to the United Nations, the Foundation said that based on its:

“vision of a human development through respect for and observation of the Universal Human Rights as well as the application of core values such as human rights, equality, tolerance, respect for human life, peace, democracy and individual freedom” established its mission to “defend, promote, teach and disseminate the Human Rights as included in the Spanish Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants, to promote pragmatic Scientology values and practices [note: developed by L. Ron Hubbard] aiming at the improvement of individual and social life, and to promote tolerance in all aspects of societal cohabitation…”.

In this application that has just been approved by the Economic and Social Council, the Foundation has documented and stated that:

“MEJORA’s work is done without any discrimination as to gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity and contributes actively to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially regarding the SDG 3, 5, 11 and 16.”.

Fundación para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad
Ivan Arjona-Pelado at the European Parliament. 2019

It acts not only in Spain but at European and international level.

Iván Arjona-Pelado, President of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation and for more than two years of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights, has stated that:

“The Foundation for the IMPROVEMENT of Life, carries out in Spain the campaigns of ‘Youth for Human Rights’, ‘The Truth About Drugs’, ‘The Way to Happiness’ among others, and began working mainly at the national level in collaboration with other civil society organizations, the private sector, as well as public institutions. However, since three years we decided to expand its activity at European and international level, starting operations in countries such as Colombia, Belgium, Mexico, Switzerland, the United States, and many others”.

In the United Nations, they have already co-organized a multitude of conferences at UN facilities in Geneva, Vienna and even New York. These were addressing human trafficking, human rights education, religious freedom and drug prevention.

At the European level, they are registered in the Transparency Register of the European Union. MEJORA has actively participated in the Faith and Freedom Summit NGO coalition that held its last event at the European Parliament in Brussels. The Foundation for the Improvement of Life also participates in numerous initiatives, events and conferences. On the coming 6th September, it will organize the 6th Edition of the Religious Freedom Awards that among its awardees count multiple scholars and officials of recognized prestige in the field of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

For more information:

Email: fundacion[a]mejorandolasociedad.org — Web: www.mejorandolasociedad.org

La Oficina de Asuntos Públicos y Derechos Humanos de Scientology obtiene reconocimiento religioso en Europa

El pasado 28 de junio de 2019, el Ministerio de Justicia de España otorgó el estatus de entidad religiosa a la “Oficina Europea de la Iglesia de Scientology para Asuntos Públicos y Derechos Humanos[1].

La entidad europea establecida en Madrid, España, y dirigida por un español, opera en diversas localidades en toda Europa y más allá. Esto incluye una segunda oficina principal en Bruselas y actividades en Berlín, Copenhague, Estrasburgo, Ginebra, Londres, París, Roma, Varsovia, Viena, entre otras capitales. Representa a los Scientologists de al menos 37 estados miembros del Consejo de Europa, [más de un 78% de los estados miembro].

Los primeros esfuerzos de la Iglesia de Scientology para dialogar con las instituciones internacionales e intergubernamentales y contribuir a construir los valores europeos comenzaron con una Oficina Europea de la Iglesia en Bruselas y se ha ocupado de asuntos públicos y derechos humanos en toda Europa desde entonces, cuando se estableció en 1990.

De acuerdo al comunicado, desde sus inicios los diferentes equipos y esfuerzos de la Iglesia de Scientology se han guiado no solo por los valores consagrados en el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos, sino también por los promovidos y protegidos por la Carta de los Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea.

Ivan Arjona en el Parlamento Europeo

Iván Arjona, presidente de esta nueva entidad ha declarado que “Europa ha estado evolucionando hacia un movimiento más democrático y justo donde los derechos fundamentales son cada vez más importantes para todos los ciudadanos, contribuyendo a una cooperación más fuerte y positiva entre las naciones de Europa”.

En vista del artículo 17[1] del Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea[2], la Unión “respetará y no prejuzgará el estatuto reconocido en los Estados miembros, en virtud del Derecho interno, a las iglesias y las asociaciones o comunidades religiosas” y “reconociendo su identidad y su contribución específica” la UE “mantendrá un diálogo abierto, transparente y regular con dichas iglesias y organizaciones”.

Entre los esfuerzos realizados por la Iglesia de Scientology para contribuir adecuadamente a este diálogo, según el comunicado de la Iglesia de Scientology, un equipo y una oficina renovados ingresaron en dicha esfera al inscribirse en el Registro de Transparencia de la Unión Europea el 18 de julio de 2017, con el número 872253227782-36[3] en la sección de “Organizaciones representativas de iglesias y comunidades religiosas”.

Desde entonces, dicha Oficina ha participado en los diferentes debates sobre temas relevantes, especialmente en el Parlamento Europeo, habiendo logrado la primera acreditación oficial personal para un representante de la Iglesia de Scientology en octubre de 2018.

El último paso dado por Scientology para lograr un diálogo más fructífero, transparente y apropiado con las diferentes instituciones europeas, cumpliendo así con los requisitos formales que se encuentran en las Directrices de 2013 para la implementación del Artículo 17 del TFUE, ha sido la reciente inscripción como persona jurídica de la mencionada “Oficina Europea de la Iglesia de Scientology para Asuntos Públicos”.

La entidad, reconocida ahora como entidad religiosa por el Ministerio de Justicia de España, menciona expresamente en el artículo 2 de sus estatutos, unirse: “…a los valores europeos de Dignidad Humana, Libertad, Democracia, Igualdad / Equidad, Estado de Derecho y Derechos Humanos”.

Los estatutos aprobados establecen su alcance territorial como “nacional y europeo”, actuando como una entidad de referencia para todo el territorio europeo” y operando como una organización sin fines de lucro puramente religiosa, que será responsable de llevar a cabo sus propias actividades y actuar como representante de las diversas Iglesias en Europa ante instituciones públicas y privadas nacionales y supranacionales, fomentando lo que se establece en el artículo 17 del Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea y de conformidad con el artículo 2.2 de la Ley Orgánica [española] sobre la libertad religiosa[4].

De acuerdo con sus estatutos, explica el comunicado, el crecimiento espiritual en Scientology se alcanza de dos maneras: a) ayudando a los individuos con sus problemas espirituales y b) aumentando su conciencia espiritual y sus capacidades individuales para ayudarse a sí mismos y a otros a alcanzar las libertades y la dignidad.

Y así esta recién inscrita entidad religiosa, representa diversas entidades religiosas e iglesias nacionales cuyo propósito es practicar, enseñar y dar a conocer la religión de Scientology establecida a través de las obras religiosas de su fundador L. Ronald Hubbard “en beneficio de todos los miembros de la Sociedad”. La Oficina declara que trabaja en involucrarse y en promover un abanico de actividades de mejora social y derechos humanos, entre los cuales están la promoción, educación y campañas de sensibilización en temas de derechos fundamentales; prevención y rehabilitación de drogas, así como la promoción de estándares morales y éticos en la Sociedad. De esta manera, según Arjona, desea “apoyar y ayudar a preservar o restaurar los valores históricos y culturales que tanto benefician a la humanidad”. La creciente comunidad de Iglesias, Misiones, Grupos y entidades de mejoramiento social de Scientology ahora supera los 11.000 distintas organizaciones en más de 170 países.


[1]           Article 17 TFEU – 1. The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States. 2. The Union equally respects the status under national law of philosophical and non-confessional organisations. 3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT

[2]           The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (latest version 2007) is one of two primary Treaties of the European Union, alongside the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Originating as the Treaty of Rome, the TFEU forms the detailed basis of European Union law, by setting out the scope of the EU’s authority to legislate and the principles of law in those areas where EU law operates.

[3]           http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/public/consultation/displaylobbyist.do?id=872253227782-36

[4]           O.L. 7/1980 5 July on Religious Freedom. Article 2.2 The rights of Churches, Faiths and religious Communities also include establishing places of worship or assembly for religious purposes, appointing and training their ministers, promulgating and disseminating their own beliefs and maintaining relations with their own organisations or other religious faiths, within the national territory or abroad. https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-1980-15955

Scientology’s Public Affairs and Human Rights Office obtains Religious Recognition in Europe

On June 28th 2019 the Spanish Ministry of Justice granted the status of Religious Organization to the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights[1].

The European corporation established in Madrid, Spain and operates in diverse locations all over Europe and beyond. This includes a main office in Brussels, with activities in Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, London, Paris, Strasbourg, Rome, Vienna and Warsaw amongst others. It represents Scientologists from at least 37 Member States of the Council of Europe.

The first efforts of the Church of Scientology to dialogue with European and International intergovernmental bodies and contribute to building European values, started with a European Office of the Church in Brussels and has dealt with public affairs and human rights issues throughout Europe ever since. It was established in 1990.

Since the beginning, the different teams and efforts of the Church have abided not only by the values enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights but also by the values promoted and protected by the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Ivan Arjona-Pelado at the EU Parliament

Ivan Arjona, President of this new entity has stated that “Europe has been evolving towards a more democratic and open movement where fundamental rights have become increasingly important for all citizens, contributing to a stronger and more positive cooperation between European nations”.

In view of Article 17[2] of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union[3], the Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States and recognizes their identity and their specific contribution, and in this light the European Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.

Among the efforts made by the Church of Scientology to properly contribute to this dialogue, a renewed team and office entered in the field by registering with the European Union Transparency Registry last 18 July 2017, with number 872253227782-36[4] at the Registry’s section ofOrganisations representing churches and religious communities”.

The Office has since then been involved in the different debates on relevant issues especially at the European Parliament, where the first personal official accreditation for a representative of the Church of Scientology was registered in October 2018.

This latest development of the incorporation as a legal religious entity of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs will contribute to a more useful, transparent and appropriate dialogue with the different European institutions, fulfilling the formal requirements in the 2013 Guidelines for implementation of Article 17 of the TFEU.

Resolution Ministry of Justice

The above-mentioned entity, recognized as a religious organization by the Spanish Ministry of Justice, expressly mentions in the article 2 of its statutes the purpose of: “… supporting the European values of Human Dignity, Freedom, Democracy, Equality/Equity, the Rule of Law and Human Rights”.

The approved statutes establishes its territorial scope as national and European, acting as an entity of reference for the entire European territory and operating as a purely religious non-profit organisation, which shall be responsible for carrying out its own activities and act as a representative for the various Churches in Europe before national and supranational public and private institutions, fostering that which is set forth in article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and pursuant to article 2.2 of the [Spanish] Organic Law on Religious Freedom[5].

According to its statutes, spiritual growth in Scientology is reached in two ways: by helping individuals themselves with their own spiritual problems, and by increasing their spiritual awareness and individual abilities to help themselves and others to achieve freedoms and dignity.

The Office represents different national religious entities or churches whose purpose is to practice, teach and make known the Scientology religion established through the religious works of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard “for the benefit of all members of society”. The Office also works to engage in and promote a range of secular social betterment and human rights activities, amongst which are the promotion, education and campaigning on fundamental rights issues; drug prevention and reform, and the promotion of moral and ethical standards in society. In this way it wishes to support and help to preserve or restore those historical and cultural values that are of benefit to mankind. The growing community of Scientology Churches, Missions, Groups and social betterment corporations now surpasses more than 11,000 different organisations in over 170 countries.


[1]           https://maper.mjusticia.gob.es/Maper/DetalleEntidadReligiosa.action?numeroInscripcion=024742

[2]           Article 17 TFEU – 1. The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States. 2. The Union equally respects the status under national law of philosophical and non-confessional organisations. 3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT

[3]           The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (latest version 2007) is one of two primary Treaties of the European Union, alongside the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Originating as the Treaty of Rome, the TFEU forms the detailed basis of European Union law, by setting out the scope of the EU’s authority to legislate and the principles of law in those areas where EU law operates.

[4]           http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/public/consultation/displaylobbyist.do?id=872253227782-36

[5]                O.L. 7/1980 5 July on Religious Freedom. Article 2.2 The rights of Churches, Faiths and religious Communities also include establishing places of worship or assembly for religious purposes, appointing and training their ministers, promulgating and disseminating their own beliefs and maintaining relations with their own organisations or other religious faiths, within the national territory or abroad. https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-1980-15955

Jan Figel on FoRB: “The aim has to be to raise awareness of what is going on in Europe itself” 🗺

EU’s religious freedom envoy wants Europe to do more to protect minorities


The EU’s special envoy for religious freedom, Jan Figel, believes that Europe needs to face up to the numerous cases of discrimination that occur against religious minorities within its own borders.Speaking at a high-level conference in Brussels, Figel said the upcoming European elections in May was a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the threat to religious freedom and belief.“The credibility of the EU and Europe is at stake,” Figel said during his opening address at the Faith and Freedom Summit, a coalition of 18 NGOs which have come together to promote religious tolerance, including in Europe.
Figel said he had personal experience of a society where freedom of speech was frowned upon, saying, “I spent half my life in Czechoslovakia under Communism so know all about this issue. Even today, data shows that some 73% of the world’s population lives in countries which have high or very high restrictions or obstacles in place against religious freedom and belief. We must stop these negative trends and reverse the threat that currently exists. It is not just discrimination against minorities that is going on, but persecution and, in some cases, even genocide,” said Figel, who added, We simply cannot stand by here in Europe and be mere commentators or observers of this.”Figel outlined some positive developments that have occurred in the last five years including the creation of his own special envoy post in 2016 and the adoption of EU guidelines on religious freedom three years earlier, as well as the creation in the parliament of an intergroup for religious tolerance.

The EU Fundamental Agency on Human Rights was another “vital instrument” in the struggle against restrictions on religious freedoms.

Noting the difference between “Continental Europe” and the wider region covered by the Council of Europe, Figel said that “real problems” still exist in Europe, including in Turkey in the crackdown against the Orthodox Church and also in Russia against Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as numerous cases of anti-Semitism in various EU countries.

“We have got to face up to these problems and tackle them head-on. The aim has to be to raise awareness of what is going on in Europe itself, as well as further afield, and to seek improvements,” said Figel. We have to realise that we, in Europe, cannot preach to others what they should be doing if we are not credibly tackling these issues within our own borders”.

Madrid City Council presents first “Manual for the police management of religious diversity” of Spain with the participation of the Church of Scientology

  • The document was presented on December 17th, by the delegate of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies, Javier Barbero; the deputy director of the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation, Puerto García; and the third deputy mayor and head of the Human Rights Plan of the Madrid City Council, Mauricio Valiente
  • In its elaboration all the religious confessions present in the city of Madrid have participated

MADRID CITY COUNCIL / CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY  – Madrid 17th Dec 2018. Five days after the 11th anniversary of the inclusion of Scientology in the Special Registry of Religious Orgnizations by the Spain Ministry of Justice (12th Dec 2007), the City of Madrid and the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence present a Manual for the local police to help them increase their knowledge, respect and care to the religious diversity in Madrid.

“Scientologists of Madrid, Spain and Europe at large are happy with such a development pioneer in Spain but probably also in the whole of Europe, in which our church has had the honor to take part in” said Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights. “Every other European capitals should follow the lead of Madrid and engage with all religions present in their area to help improve the understanding of the differences and common purpose for sustainable development and growth of their cities and wellbeing of their citizens” concluded Arjona.

The manual includes a factual but brief description of Scientology, its history and practices (as well of for the other religions), and also the main religious festivities of everyone, in which they included the birthday celebration of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (Marc 13th), the founding of the International Association of Scientologists in October, the “Auditor’s Day” (the Scientology ministers), and the anniversary of the release of the first Scientology related book, the bestseller Dianetics (May 9th, 1950).

The Delegate of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies, Javier Barbero; the deputy director of the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation, Puerto García, and the third deputy mayor and head of the Human Rights Plan of the Madrid City Council, Mauricio Valiente, presented last 17th of December 2018 the “Manual of police management of religious diversity”, the first of Spain and in which all the religious denominations present in the city of Madrid have participated.

The document has been prepared by the Diversity Management Unit of the Municipal Police of Madrid with the collaboration of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the Archbishopric of Madrid, the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain, the Jewish Communities Federation of Spain, the Spanish Islamic Commission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, Federation of Buddhist Communities of Spain, Orthodox, Baha’i Community, Hindu, Church of Scientology and Sikhs within the framework of a Cooperation Agreement of the Area of ​​Health, Safety and Emergencies of the Madrid City Council and the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence, under the Ministry of Justice.

Javier Barbero has been very satisfied with this manual because “all the religious denominations present in Madrid have cooperated on this document. This is a way of expressing that we are capable of reaching agreements, and that we are capable of integrating differences in a city that can be plural and inclusive”.

Mauricio Valiente said: “This manual is a first step of a normative that will regulate the freedom of conscience and religious plurality in the city of Madrid in which we are working with a group of entities. We hope to have it approved in January and that includes not only police management but also participation in religious ceremonies and other aspects, to have a framework of rights and thus the City of Madrid takes an important step in a matter in which there is hardly any type of regulation”.

Finally, Puerto Garcia, general deputy director of the Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence (from the Spain Ministry of Justice), has indicated that the Foundation especially value the manual because “it is a pioneer, is an area which the Foundation and the Ministry had not yet developed, we had worked in the field of town-planning, funeral services, etc., but not in this one. Today with it we have a reference manual for other municipal police services and with which we advance a lot because although it is a matter of state competence, people live in cities, and in the end people exercise their rights in cities, including the one of religious freedom.”

Religious richness and diversity

The City of Madrid is characterized by the social diversity that is composed of, and there is a whole heterogeneous group of people who provide religious, social and cultural enrichment, where all of them enjoy the same rights and duties. As a reflection of this Right, in the City of Madrid one finds multiple and diverse religious denominations, which, for their own exercise and development, establish their places of worship.

On the date on which this document is drawn up, the Observatory of Religious Pluralism in Spain indicates that there are 7,131 places of assembly destined for the worship of other religious confessions other than Catholic. The city of Madrid, in particular, houses 504 of these places of worship. If we break down the data by denominations, those with the highest number of places of worship in the municipality of Madrid, except Catholic, are the Evangelical with 366 churches, followed by the Muslim community with 40, Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses with 20 and the Buddhist and Orthodox confessions with 18 and 15 places of worship respectively.

In the day to day of the city of Madrid, and for this reason of coexistence of numerous religious confessions, one could run into acts of intolerance, discrimination or situations of conflict towards or between people who practice different religions.

On the other hand, the celebration of different liturgies and other manifestations of the different worships and rites, are faced with other interests of citizenship, and so conflicts between different fundamental rights may arise, basically complaints about problems of coexistence derived from noise or use of the public space. On many occasions the management of these conflicts corresponds to the Municipal Police, and to better manage the conflict it is necessary to increase the knowledge about the reality of the religious diversity of the city of Madrid.

For this reason, the ‘Manual of police management of religious diversity’ has been drafted, as a consultation document for commanders and police of the Municipal Police of Madrid.

The document consists of a conceptual framework on the religious diversity present in Madrid and also reflects the regulatory framework in which they relate to public authorities. The text also includes various indications on how police action should be in certain situations for which you can request Municipal Police services, such as places of worship, the use of roads and public spaces or school cafeteria services.

Also included in the manual the police finds annexes with additional information on the activity of the places of worship and their symbolisms, main festivities and events with greater public repercussion, list of places of worship in Madrid.

Recognized rights

The Right to Freedom of Religion or Worship is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its article 18, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change one’s religion or belief, as well as the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief individually and collectively, both in public and private, by teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

It is also included in the Spanish Constitution as a fundamental right, in article 16.1, which guarantees “the right to freedom of ideology, religion and worship for individuals and communities without further limitation, in their manifestations, than what would be necessary for the keeping of public order. protected by law.”

#STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS #DERECHOSHUMANOS #SCIENTOLOGY #FORB #FORBDEFENDERS

Church of Scientology partners for the launch event of the European Faith and Freedom Summit

BRUSSELS—On June 28 at the Solvay Library, situated just behind the European Parliament in the Parc Leopold, a large group of faith and government representatives met in what has been termed the launch of the Faith and Freedom Summit.

The European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights has been partnering with NGOs and the Alliance of Conservative and Reformists in Europe (3rd EU political party) to organize this non-partisan launch event of the Faith and Freedom Summit.

Official photo of the Vatican with Bishop Schirrmacher and Pope Francis © L’Osservatore Romano

So much hope was placed upon this conference to address and resolve the divisions caused by intolerance that Archbishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher from the World Evangelical Alliance attended just after meeting with Pope Francis in Rome to receive the personal blessings of the Pontiff and his wishes for the Summit’s success.

The 80 participants—religious leaders and scholars, human rights advocates, members of the European Parliament, and other leaders from throughout Europe—included representatives from the United States and from as far away as Indonesia.

Richard Milsom, Chief Executive of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, introduced the conference and the importance to act now with reference to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), especially in light of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December.

His speech was followed by a video address from Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who spoke on the importance of European external and internal policies in regard to the freedom of religion or belief. He asked every Member of the European Parliament to sign the pledge of the Faith and Freedom Summit campaign that reads:

“I pledge that I will uphold and defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out against bigotry, discrimination, harassment and violence; and so build a more equitable society for all.”

Panel discussions focused on the need for implementation of bold policies committed to freedom of religion or belief. These panels discussed what could and should be done to strengthen application of these policies to ensure these benefits carry through to every individual in the European Union.

During his keynote speech, Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, declared:

“For the sake of our external credibility we need to show coherence in external and internal policy”

Figel also exposed the different types of religiofobias that can be found, despite of all efforts so far, Europe, and how looking into the internal issues will help to protect FoRB in the rest of world.

 

According to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”, and in this regards, the statements of the different keynote speakers could not be more relevant.

In the beginning of afternoon, it was the turn of Salvatore Martinez, Rep of the Italian presidency at OSCE for Freedom of Religion, to say in a moving keynote speech:

“The denial of freedom of religion put at risks the most basic rights of everyone, and when this denial concerns a whole religious community, it endangers peace and security between states themselves. Freedom of religion must also be respected in its collective dimension.”

 

The impressive list of speakers and panellists made it maybe the most important event on Freedom of Religion that happened in Brussels since decades. The list included:

Amjad Bashir MEP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, European Parliament; Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom; Congressman Bob McEwen, Former Member, American Delegation to the European Parliament; Bashy Quraishy, Secretary General of EMISCO (European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion); Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, Director of International Affairs for VOX (Spanish political party); Dr. Eli Nacht, Official Representative of International Committee of Human Rights in Israel; Patricia Duval, Human Rights Attorney; Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International; Dr Aaron Rhodes, President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe; Professor Marco Ventura, Professor of Law & Religion at University of Siena; Hans Noot, Director of the Gerard Noodt Foundation; Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights; Greg Mitchell, Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable; Vincent Berger, Former Jurisconsult of European Court of Human Rights; Archibishop Thomas Schirrmacher, President of the International Society for Human Rights; Dr. Juan Ferreiro Galguera, Professor of Law and Religion, University of A Coruña; Rosita Soryte, Lithuanian diplomat, President of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees; Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, USCIRF Commissioner and Vice-Chairwoman of the Commission; Dr. Alessandro (Alex) Amicarelli, Chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB); Martin Weightman, Director of the All Faiths Network in the UK; Adina Portaru, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Belgium

In a final keynote speech, Eric Roux, Vice President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights, delivered the following message:

“Freedom of religion or belief has no religion. It has no political side. What people believe is their most ultimate freedom. Their link to God, or to the ultimate sense of life, and the expression of these inner beliefs are the most profound richness of a human being. That is why freedom of religion or belief must be fought for all, always, with no consideration of whatever faith one chooses.”

The faith and Freedom Summit will continue as a global campaign. The pledge of the Summit will be soon open for signatures for all, and especially for candidates to the 2019 European Parliament elections. Follow-up at www.faithandfreedomsummit.eu.

The event organized by ACRE was co-sponsored by the Church of Scientology, the Foundation for the Improvement of Life, Culture and Society, the Coordiantion of Associations and People for Freedom of Conscience, and the UK based All Faiths Network.

The European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights is registered with number 872253227782-36 since 18/07/2017 in “Section V – Organisations representing churches and religious communities” of the European Transparency Register. Scientology is a recognized religion in many of the European systems already and by the European Court of Human Rights, and participates in the Civil Society Platform of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union.

 

 

28 June – EU Faith and Freedom Summit 🗓 🗺

Attend the upcomming Summit on “FAITH AND FREEDOM SUMMIT: Practicing what we preach in Europe”.

 

 

Among the speakers you will find:

  • Dr. Ahmed Shaheed – Special Rapporteur on human rights to UN Human Rights Council
  • Jan Figel – EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU
  • Salvatore Martinez – Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office 2018 on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of other Religions
  • Bashy Quraishy – Secretary General of EMISCO
  • Dr. Ahmed Shaheed – Special Rapporteur on human rights to UN Human Rights Council
  • Dr. Eli Nacht – Official Representative of International Committee of Human Rights in Israel
  • Patricia Duval – Human Rights Attorney
  • Willy Fautre – Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International
  • Sam Brownback – U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
  • Aaron Rhodes – President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe
  • Marco Ventura – Professor of Law & Religion at University of Siena
  • Hans Noot – Director of the Gerard Noodt Foundation
  • Greg Mitchell – Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable
  • Vincent Berger – Former Jurisconsult of European Court of Human Rights
  • Thomas Schirrmacher – President of the International Society for Human Rights
  • Rev. Eric Roux – Vice-President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights
  • Ivan Arjona-Pelado – President and Director General of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights
  • Dr. Juan Ferreiro-Galguera – Professor of Law and Religion, University of A Coruña
  • Rosita Soryte – Lithuanian diplomat, President of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees

 

It is with great pleasure that I would like to invite you to participate in the inaugural “Faith and Freedom” Summit that will take place in Brussels on June 28th, 2018.

With the 2019 European elections in sight, we believe that the time has come to address Freedom of Religion or Belief as an important topic to be tackled in the EU.
Hosted by ACRE, The Faith and Freedom Summit, is a cross-party initiative, and will involve politicians from all sides, as well as several civil society stakeholders.

We, as others, are committed to freedom of religion or belief, and we believe that the EU has more to do with it than only tackling it in its external relations, as it is the case nowadays. If we want to have a legitimate influence outside of the EU border, we must be beyond reproach within our borders. And this is simply not the case in the present time.

We strongly believe that EU citizens must enjoy a real freedom of religion or belief, at every level, and that this fundamental right is not given the importance it deserves in the EU institutions, and in the EU instruments to protect the various freedoms of EU citizens.

http://www.acreurope.eu/event/faith_and_freedom_summit

Co-Organizing and sponsoring the summit:

European Coordination for Freedom of ConscienceFundacion Para La MejoraAll Faiths NetworkEuropean Office of the Church of Scientology

In the Streets of Budapest: Speaking Out for Religious Freedom

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY—Scientologists from 27 nations demonstrated their commitment to religious freedom, joining Hungarian members of their religion in a march through the city to protest illegal government intrusion into the peaceful practice of their faith.

The marchers—1,500 strong, including many friends from other religions—gathered at Deák Ferenc Square in the center of Budapest where a prominent member of the Hungarian Church, Timea Vojtilla, expressed the Scientologists’ determination to overcome all barriers to freedom and to establish genuine religious freedom for everyone.

 

Timea Vojtilla

After citing the nation’s proud legacy of freedom, extending back to the Edict of Torda in 1568—an enlightened statement of religious tolerance—she declared, “We are here to show and demand that our country, Hungary, can return to be the home of religious freedom again.” Based upon a 2011 law that withdrew recognition from all but 14 of 362 religious organizations, the national government has been discriminating against an array of faiths, including non-Catholic Christians, Jews, Muslims, members of Eastern religions, and Scientologists.

Vojtilla then introduced author Istvan Nemere, who spoke passionately about experiences during Hungary’s Communist era, when freedom was savagely suppressed. His message emphasized how vital the cause of religious freedom is to the future of the nation and its people.

Following the speeches, marchers made their way through the streets of Budapest, across the Danube River via the famous Chain Bridge, and on to Alexander Palace, home of the nation’s president.

Actress and humanitarian Ruddy Rodriguez, who flew in from South America to support the demonstrators, spoke about the ever-growing importance in today’s world of working for increased religious tolerance and peace.

Following the speeches, marchers made their way through the streets of Budapest, across the Danube River via the famous Chain Bridge, and on to Alexander Palace, home of the nation’s president.

Processing march over the Danube river

As the procession moved through the streets, actors depicted for onlookers some of history’s most egregious violations of religious tolerance and freedom, such as the Inquisition. Marchers from many countries unfurled their national flags to demonstrate solidarity with the messages of liberty and tolerance, while drums thundered and chants for religious freedom filled the air.

At Alexander Palace, as the historical re-enactors flanked the colorful stage, the president of the Church of Scientology of Hungary, Attila Miklovicz, read a declaration from the Church’s members demanding freedom to practice their religion without governmental hindrance or persecution. It was a strong message that resonated with the attendees of many faiths.

At the close of the event, Timea Vojtilla read each line of the Creed of the Church of Scientology. As she did so, the crowd repeated the words. This was in itself a moving affirmation of freedom and human rights, and a fitting culmination to the march that demonstrated their commitment to stand up for their religion and for freedom itself regardless of any attempt at oppression.

Amsterdarm, recconquering Holland with a new Ideal Church

A Concise History of Amsterdam

Stick to Town center’s canals and bridges Then and Amsterdam drift east to stylish, the growing and studious Knowledge Mile and you’ll reach the fast lane of the creative capitals of Europe of one. The Knowledge Mile signifies a sign of learning and expansion an renewal and the advance guard of Amsterdam’s advancement.

Really, the launching of Amsterdam Church of Scientology Was an extravagant party of understanding, in sense and a contemporary. So it had been, guests and a few 1,300 Scientologists assembled in Amsterdam, October 28, on Saturday, to celebrate the unveiling of a landmark that is striking on the central apex — the Wibautstraat of the area.

In commemorating the occasion the Ecclesiastical chief of the Scientology faith, announced: “Prior to that ribbon drops, let us take a minute to consider your place in biblical history–and of course mythology. For you are sailing windward and seaward, and you skirting headlands. To the contrary, you are out bound on a path to eternity itself.”

The grand opening festivities struck on every notice on the town’s Cultural spectrum, in the timeless defeat of this “Ode to the Amsterdam Canals” into the Suriname drums and digital rendition highlighting the town’s location in fresh century audio folklore. It was a day heralding venture and diversity, led by dignitaries representing the belief.

Reflecting interfaith customs and the improvement of this Since opening its doors in Amsterdam in 21, city was active. One example is that the Chapter of Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which is a force in safeguarding Dutch children’s rights. Their presentation to the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child in the overdrugging of the children of the country, resulted to inquire into the root causes of ADHD’s signs.

Scientologists farther combatted drug abuse from town throughout the supply of over 25,000 Truth About Medicines substances, while L. Ron Hubbard’s universal ethical precepts in How to Happiness have Been spread to the tune of 150,000. The Church is an active voice in interfaith activities, where it champions talk to improve comprehension and bridge differences.

The new facility that is striking serves to expands That the Church’s footprint at town and offers a starting point to expand their outreach out of their location, only minutes by car, bike or subway in the centre of town. Therefore, the 5-story centre is a dazzling new milestone for cooperation and hope to the over 70,000 commuters daily departure by on Wibautstraat.

In support of the message of venture of this center were neighborhood Dignitaries on hand to welcome the Church to its new house, such as Mr. Maarten Lubbers, Chairman, Collectively 1 Amsterdam; Mr. Michael Van Gils, Senior Police Officer, Dutch Regional Police (Ret.) ; Ms. Sheela Vyas, Chair of the Women’s Council of Amsterdam; and Ari Van Buuren, Chairman of the United Religion’s Initiative Netherlands.

Chairman, Maarten Lubbersspoke of the Church As a brand new member to boost the institutes of education, businesses and associations of “the cleverest road” from the Netherlands: “Everybody requires a sanctuary that provides calmness and solitude, with yourself and with your loved ones and friends. But in life, people have tragedies experience reduction and desire and will need to reflect. Along with your house is similar to an extension of this road, the doors are open and the folks are welcome. And I feel that here everybody is going to be satisfied with empathy and be greeted with open arms–since this is a centre that’s genuinely committed to uplifting and inspirational our Dutch society.”

Michael Van Gils, expert and retired authorities officer, Talked into the CCHR motion and its heritage of defending kid’s rights: “With CCHR, I found myself one of a crusade of countless. Here was they’d do it. And you did so all. You went to inform them, ‘our kids deserve.’ You reached over 2,000 physicians, teachers and political leaders together with your message along with the truth… Due to CCHR, kid physicians needed to warn against the prescription of ADHD medication–and that’s permanent shift.”

Ms. Vyas emphasized the Bright future for Amsterdam heralded by the festivities and How to Happiness: “This small book is a really practical instrument to enable individuals to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of other people around them. It compels them to develop to loving and responsible citizens. And it creates a stone to construct societies upon. Within this time when ethical criteria are declining in Holland and everywhere, individuals need effective tools to teach themselves… Since true schooling isn’t getting certificates but using a ideology into self-empowerment.”

Capping the sense of fresh starts daily celebrated Chairman of the Initiative Netherlands of the United Religion, Buuren, talked of the connection between spirituality and Scientology. “There’s an early Dutch proverb that states: ‘Improve the planet and start with yourself’… We’re needing a counter motion of spirituality, from solitude and isolation. Along with training and your transformation contributes. It’s all about consciousness. You provide a significant contribution to freedom and spiritual consciousness. In the Western civilization, rational thinking and spirituality are very divided–and Scientology reconnects them together again.”

The Church supplies an introduction to Dianetics to people And Scientology, starting with the Public Information Center. Its screens, including over 500 movies, present the customs and beliefs of the Scientology faith and the life and heritage of Founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Information Center also details the many programs that Scientology supports. They comprise a global human rights education initiative; a far-reaching drug education, rehabilitation and prevention application; a international network of learning and literacy centers, and also the Scientology Volunteer Minister program, that is now the world’s biggest independent relief force.

Scientology congregational is provided for by the Amsterdam Chapel Parties which have Weddings Sunday Services and Naming Ceremonies. It is going to also host events. The centre further includes multiple conference rooms and classrooms, along with an whole wing devoted to Scientology auditing (spiritual counseling).

The Church of Scientology Amsterdam’s opening comes through a London to Milan, period of growth for the faith with 60 Churches of Scientology from Los Angeles to Tampa, Johannesburg into Kaohsiung into Tokyo and Tel Aviv. Those openings have driven expansion for the faith to a speed exceeding the 50 years.

In 2017, openings of new Churches of Scientology have happened in Auckland, New Zealand; the San Fernando Valley, California; Miami, Florida; Copenhagen, Denmark; and also 2 in only the last two months at Birmingham, United Kingdom and Dublin, Ireland.

Church openings are proposed for cultural in the following 12 weeks Epicenters in North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa.

Parliamentarians from 14 countries call on Russia for protecting religious minorities

Council of Europe cross-party initiative: Parliamentarians from 14 European countries call upon Russian government to put an end to religious freedom violations against minorities

On Friday 13 October, 28 parliamentarians at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, coming from 14 European countries and members of the four main political groups at the Assembly, signed a written declaration published on the Council of Europe’s website, calling respectfully upon the Russian government to intervene to “put an end to violations of the Right to Freedom of Religion or belief of members of religious minorities in Russia”.

 

The declaration reads that “Evangelicals, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Presbyterians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Scientologists and others have been targeted, with some of their members sentenced to pre-trial imprisonment based on the 2002 Extremist law, while in reality being held for simply engaging in peaceful religious beliefs and activities.”

This declaration, of which signatories are members of national parliaments in Portugal, Spain, Italy, UK, and 10 other countries, appears in a context of strong religious discrimination in Russia, where religious minorities suffer unlawful treatments by some authorities. Recently, Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, has been banned as “extremist,” by a decision of the Supreme court. Protests from Russian human rights defenders have risen throughout the Russian Federation, as discriminatory treatments are increasingly unfair towards Russia’s own citizens.

Recently, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a very well-known Russian human rights activist whom Putin personally visited on her 90th birthday this year, has published an open letter to the President in the top National magazine the Kommersant, followed by 100 Russian human rights activists, protesting against the unfair treatment of Scientologists in Russia, following the arrest of five of their religious leaders on the spurious charges of “extremism”, based on the law on extremism of 2002, which, according to the European Parliamentarians, “provides no clear definition for the term ‘extremism,’ thus rendering virtually any group or individual vulnerable to political and legal harassment.”

Iván Arjona-Pelado, Director General of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs & Human Rights, warmly welcomed the written declaration, stating to the media that “surely the different religious minorities in Russia feel thankful for the courage shown by the 28 parliamentarians of 14 member states, who are requesting the Russian government to intervene with the authorities that incorrectly applying a law whose spirit was to protect its citizens, but which instead is being used to perpetrate a witch hunt despite the rule of law in the 21st Century”.

Main Source EIFRF: http://www.eifrf-articles.org/Parliamentarians-from-14-countries-call-on…

Regarding Discrimination on Scientology and Others in the Russian Federation

Scientology Presentation to Working Session 6 at the OSCE – ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of 2017 Warsaw, Poland • Oral presentation at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Meeting of 2017, Working Session 6. From the Church of Scientology Human Rights and Public Affairs Office, Mr. Ivan Arjona delivered a statement: “Regarding Discrimination on Scientology and Others in the Russian Federation,” presented in full below.

Read more at World Religion News: “Regarding Discrimination on Scientology and Others in the Russian Federation”.

My Thoughts on the Scientology Religious Order—the Sea Organization on its 50th Anniversary

The religious order of the Scientology religion—the Sea Organization—celebrates its Golden Anniversary.
It was August 12, 1967, in the Spanish Canary Islands. Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard had resigned from the position of Executive Director of the Church a year before, was pursuing a research project into the spiritual nature of mankind, assisted by a handful of veteran Scientologists. On this date, he published a directive stating that this group, the Sea Organization, is now “a permanent establishment within the official Scientology network.” Today, a corps of some 7,000 men and women, the Sea Org is the religious order of the Scientology religion. Its members administer and protect the purity of the religion. Historical Background of Religious Orders Gautama Buddha (ca. 563–483 BCE) created the  Read more at World Religion News: “My Thoughts on the Scientology Religious Order—the Sea Organization on its 50th 

The protection of Religious Freedom improved now by the Council of Europe

At the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Rapporteur Mr. Valeriu Ghiletchi proposed the members of the Assembly coming from the 47 countries a Resolution and a Recommendation for “The protection of the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities”.

After having conducted very intense debates at the very Committee of Equality and No discrimination of the Council of Europe, both the resolution and also the recommendation have been finally approved by the Assembly, and as it couldn’t be otherwise after his work and his last speech, Mr. Ghiletchi was applauded for his tenacity and courage by all present in the Assembly at the end of the votation.

 

Mr. Ghiletchi was assigned as Rapporteur by the ¨Committee on Equality and No discrimination of the PACE after a motion for resolution (N ° 13333) in which it explains that:

“The Assembly finds that new religious movements and religious minorities are especially at risk regarding the infringement of these rights by some member States.

Derogatory labeling of religious minorities as ‘sects’, ‘sectarian’, ‘cults’ or any other term generates bias and stigmatization and lead to undue restrictions to a parent’s right to raise and educate their children in conformity with their own beliefs.

The Assembly therefore resolves to study and identify cases where member States do not respect the rights of parents to educate children according to their own religious and philosophical convictions, especially with regard to minorities”.

 

After that he prepared his report during two years and finally came up with this Resolution and Recommendation to encourage the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to protect these fundamental rights.

The Resolution 2163, which has now been approved last  27 of April 2017 at the Second Session of the Plenary Assembly, invites the member states to protect the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities adopting practical measures, legislative or of any other kind, to:

• Affirm the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all individuals, including the right not to adhere to any religion, and protect the right of all not to be compelled to perform actions that go against their deeply held moral or religious beliefs, while ensuring that access to services lawfully provided is maintained and the right of others to be free from discrimination is protected;

• Promote reasonable accommodation of the deeply held moral or religious beliefs of all individuals in cases of serious conflict to enable citizens to freely manifest their religion or belief in private or in public, within the limits defined by legislation and provided that this is not detrimental to the rights of others;

• Repeal any law or rule which establishes a discriminatory distinction between religious minorities and majority beliefs;

• Ensure easy-to-implement options for children or parents to obtain exemptions from compulsory State religious education programmes that are in conflict with their deeply held moral or religious beliefs; such options may include non-confessional teaching of religion, providing information on a plurality of religions, and ethics programmes.

 

At the Recommendation 2101, which was laso approved by the Assembly, the PACE asks the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (which is formed by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 47 member states) to:

Draw up guidelines on how member States should make effective reasonable accommodation of deeply held moral or religious beliefs of individuals, while ensuring respect for the rights of others.

 

The European Inter-religious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF), of which Iván Arjona is part of since 2014, cooperated with the Rapporteur Mr. Ghiletchi durin the time in which he was preparing the report and resolution, providing him with factual data about the subject of violations of parents and children rights by member states, obtained from many of the 47 countries that are part of the Council of Europe.

Additionally, members of EIFRF, as well as the Spanish Fundación Mejora also work other entities and members of different majority and minority religions, informing about the importance and necesita of this Resolution and Recommendation to the members of the parliaments of the different delegations such as the ones of Spain, Ukraine, San Marino, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and many others, in order to obtain the necessary support for this resolution that protects all citizens from potential interferences of the member states in the effective exercise of the religious freedom protected not only by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights but also the very European Convention on Human Rights.

 

“We have strongly supported this report, and are very happy to see that it has now been supported by the whole Assembly for the good of all children that belong to minority beliefs. We have worked with other civil society organizations and together we did the best we could to help the Assembly in that very important task of protecting fundamental rights “, said Eric Roux, President of the EIFRF.

Today was again a good day for Religious Freedom.

You can read the resolution and recommendation in full as adopted today by the PACE by clicking here..