Archive pour la Catégorie 'europe'

Droits des femmes – les forces cléricales marquent un point en obtenant le rejet du rapport Estrella.

 

Edite Estrela est une députée portugaise du  Groupe de l’Alliance Progressiste des Socialistes et Démocrates au Parlement européen et Vice-présidente de la commission des Droits de la femme .

 

Le rapport Estrela (voir ci-dessous) vient d’être rejeté par le Parlement européen par 334 voix contre 327 en faveur du rapport.  Il plaidait pour le renforcement des politiques relatives à la santé et aux droits sexuels et génésiques (avortement, prévention des MST, information surla contraception, violence faite aux femmes, etc.). le texte avait reçu le soutien de divers groupes dont Amnesty et Catholics for free choice ainsi que celui de la Fédération Humaniste Européenne et de l’Association européenne pour la pensée libre (AEPL).

 

On pouvait s’attendre à ce que les adversaires du droit des femmes à maîtriser ces aspects de leur vie se mobilisent, ce qu’ils n’ont pas manqué de faire. Le texte ci-après qui émanent du blog Belgicatho montre la satisfaction ressentie par le camp clérical après ce vote.

 

On ne peut s’empêcher d’éprouver une certaine lassitude devant la nécessité de reprendre indéfiniment le combat pour des lois libératrices, qui ne contraignent personne à aller contre sa conscience, mais dont  l’absence empêche ceux ou celles qui le souhaiteraient d’exercer, eux, leur libre arbitre.

Le rejet de ce rapport montre aussi que – contrairement à ce que trop de gens pensent – les élections européennes comportent un enjeu : construire une Europe de la liberté ou accepter une Europe réactionnaire et cléricale.

fichier pdf EP 2013.12.11 Rapport Estrelafichier doc rapport Estrela

liberté de religion et de conviction: la FHE salue un texte équilibré

French version below

 

EHF welcomes new EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion and Belief

 

25 June 2013 - On 24 June, the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the EU adopted in Luxembourg the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. Whilst proclaiming EU’s impartiality towards religion or belief, these Guidelines aim at helping the EU to promote freedom of religion and belief in third countries and address violations of this right abroad in a coherent and effective manner.

 

The European Humanist Federation (EHF) is pleased to see that the Council adopted the balanced approach proposed by the European External Action Service over some conservative voices heard at the European Parliament. The rights of people holding non-theistic and atheistic beliefs will be equally protected by the EU as well as the right to change or abandon one’s religion or belief. The EU will also oppose any religious justification to restrictions on other fundamental rights and to violence against women, children, members of religious minorities and persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. On the right to conscientious objection, the EHF is satisfied that the EU chose to restrict it to military service and did not extend it to health services like abortion or contraception.

 

Regarding freedom of expression, the EU reaffirms the right to criticize or mock religion or belief, while promoting respect and tolerance. The EU thus commits to protect individuals’ rights and not religion or belief as such. This implies that the EU will explicitly recommend the decriminalization of blasphemy offences in third countries.

 

However, the EHF regrets that the EU does not recommend it within its own borders. Blasphemy laws are still in place in a minority of EU Member States and ‘religious insult’ is still an offence in a large number of Member States. EHF therefore urges the EU to adopt a coherent position on blasphemy and to encourage Members States to abolish blasphemy laws, as recommended by the Venice Commission and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

 

The EHF will be happy to contribute as civil society organization on ways to promote freedom of conscience, religion and belief in EU’s external policies.

 

Pierre Galand, President

 

Contact: Pierre-Arnaud Perrouty,  p-a.perrouty@laicite.net or +324 8418 35 35


Lignes directrices de l’Union européenne sur la liberté de religion et de conviction:

la FHE salue un texte équilibré

 

25 Juin 2013 -  Les Ministres des Affaires Etrangères européens, réunis en Conseil à Luxembourg lundi 24 juin, ont adopté les nouvelles « Lignes directrices de l’Union sur la promotion et la protection de la liberté de religion ou de conviction ». Rappelant la neutralité de l’UE vis-à-vis de toute religion ou croyance, ces lignes directrices constituent une boîte à outils pour aider l’Union à promouvoir la liberté de religion ou de conviction hors de ses frontières et faire face aux possibles violations de ce droit dans les pays tiers.

 

La Fédération Humaniste Européenne (FHE) salue l’approche équilibrée adoptée par le Conseil qui reflète la proposition du Service d’Action Extérieure Européen (Commission européenne) et s’éloigne des positions conservatrices avancées par plusieurs députés européens. Les droits des non-croyants, agnostiques et athées seront protégés par l’UE ainsi que le droit fondamental de changer ou d’abandonner sa religion ou ses croyances. L’UE s’opposera également à toute limitation d’autres droits fondamentaux ainsi qu’à toute violence à l’encontre des femmes, des enfants, des minorités religieuses et des personnes LGBTI justifiées au nom de la liberté religieuse. Par ailleurs, la FHE constate avec satisfaction que le droit à l’objection de conscience reste limité au service militaire et n’a pas été étendu aux services de santé reproductive et sexuelle tels que l’avortement ou la contraception.

 

Concernant la liberté d’expression, l’UE réaffirme clairement le droit de critiquer et de tourner en ridicule une religion ou une croyance, tout en promouvant le respect et la tolérance entre les personnes de convictions différentes. Il est intéressant de souligner que si l’UE défend les droits des croyants et non-croyants, elle ne protège donc aucune religion ou croyance en tant que telle. Elle recommande également explicitement de décriminaliser le délit de blasphème dans les pays tiers concernés.

 

La FHE regrette cependant que l’UE ne soit pas aussi ferme en la matière vis-à-vis de ses Etats Membres. Aujourd’hui encore, plusieurs Etats européens interdisent le blasphème ou sanctionnent l’ « insulte religieuse » dans leur législation. La FHE demande donc à l’UE d’adopter une position cohérente sur le blasphème et d’encourager ses Etats Membres à abolir ces lois comme le recommandent la Commission de Venise et l’Assemblée Parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe.

 

En tant qu’organisation de la société civile, la FHE est disponible pour contribuer à l’amélioration de ces outils destinés à protéger la liberté de conscience, de religion et de conviction dans les politiques extérieures de l’Union.

 

Pierre Galand, Président

 

Contact: Pierre-Arnaud Perrouty,  p-a.perrouty@laicite.net ou +324 8418 35 35

protection of freedom of religion or belief – EU guidelines

EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection
of freedom of religion or belief
FOREIG AFFAIRS Council meeting
Luxembourg, 24 June 2013
The Council adopted the following guidelines:
I. Introduction
A. Reason for Action
1. The right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief1, more commonly referred to as
the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is a fundamental right of every human being. As a
universal human right, freedom of religion or belief safeguards respect for diversity. Its free
exercise directly contributes to democracy, development, rule of law, peace and stability. Violations
of freedom of religion or belief may exacerbate intolerance and often constitute early indicators of
potential violence and conflicts.
2. All persons have the right to manifest their religion or belief either individually or in community
with others and in public or private in worship, observance, practice and teaching, without fear of
intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack. Persons who change or leave their religion or
belief, as well as persons holding non-theistic or atheistic beliefs should be equally protected, as
well as people who do not profess any religion or belief.
3. Violations or abuses of freedom of religion or belief, committed both by state and non-state
actors, are widespread and complex and affect people in all parts of the world, including Europe.
B. Purpose and scope
4. In promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief, the EU is guided by the universality,
indivisibility, inter-relatedness and interdependence of all human rights, whether civil, political,
economic, social or cultural.
5. In line with universal and European human rights standards2, the EU and its member States are
committed to respecting, protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief within their
borders.
1 See article 18 of the UDHR and article 18 of the ICCPR.
2 In Europe, freedom of religion or belief is notably protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human
Rights and Article 10 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. See Annex for a non-exhaustive list of
international norms and standards.
6. With these Guidelines, the EU reaffirms its determination to promote, in its external human rights
policy, freedom of religion or belief as a right to be exercised by everyone everywhere, based on the
principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality. Through its external policy instruments,
the EU intends to help prevent and address violations of this right in a timely, consistent and
coherent manner.
7. In doing so, the EU focuses on the right of individuals, to believe or not to believe, and, alone or
in community with others, to freely manifest their beliefs. The EU does not consider the merits of
the different religions or beliefs, or the lack thereof, but ensures that the right to believe or not to
believe is upheld. The EU is impartial and is not aligned with any specific religion or belief.
8. The Guidelines explain what the international human rights standards on freedom of religion or
belief are, and give clear political lines to officials of EU institutions and EU Member States, to be
used in contacts with third countries and with international and civil society organisations. They
also provide officials with practical guidance on how to seek to prevent violations of freedom of
religion or belief, to analyse cases, and to react effectively to violations wherever they occur, in
order to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in the EU's external action.
C. Definitions
9. Freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Articles 18 of both the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (UDHR) and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
which should be read in the light of the UN Human Rights Committee's General Comment n°22.
Under international law, FoRB has two components:
(a) the freedom to have or not to have or adopt (which includes the right to change) a
religion or belief of one’s choice, and
(b) the freedom to manifest one's religion or belief, individually or in community with
others, in public or private, through worship, observance, practice and teaching.
10. In line with these provisions, the EU has recalled that "freedom of thought, conscience, religion
or belief, applies equally to all persons. It is a fundamental freedom that includes all religions or
beliefs, including those that have not been traditionally practised in a particular country, the beliefs
of persons belonging to religious minorities, as well as non-theistic and atheistic beliefs. The
freedom also covers the right to adopt, change or abandon one's religion or belief, of one's own
free will."3
-- Right to have a religion, to hold a belief, or not to believe
11. Theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or
belief are protected under article 18 ICCPR4. The terms “belief” and “religion” are to be broadly
construed and the article's application should not be limited to traditional religions or to religions
and beliefs with institutional characteristics or practices analogous to those of traditional religions.
States should not restrict the freedom to hold any religion or belief. Coercion to change, recant or
reveal one’s religion or belief is equally prohibited.
3 Council Conclusions on Freedom of religion or belief; 16 November 2009.
4 See General Comment n°22.
12. Holding or not holding a religion or belief is an absolute right and may not be limited under any
circumstances5.
-- Right to manifest one's religion or belief
13. Article 18 of the ICCPR recognises the right of people to "manifest" their religion or belief,
alone or in community with others, both publicly and privately. This freedom to manifest religion or
belief e.g. in worship, observance, practice and teaching, potentially "encompasses a broad range of
acts"6, whose close and direct link with a religion or belief must be looked at on a case-by case
basis.
14. As opposed to the freedom to have a religion, to hold a belief or not to believe, the freedom to
manifest one's religion or belief may be subject to limitations, but "only to such limitations as are
prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the
fundamental rights and freedoms of others."7 These limitations must be in accordance with
international standards and must be strictly interpreted. Limitations for other reasons, such as
national security, are not permitted. Based on article 18.3 of the ICCPR and as developed in
General Comment 22, any limitations must meet with the following criteria: they must be
established by law, not applied in a way that vitiate the rights guaranteed in article 18, only applied
for those purposes for which they were prescribed, directly related and proportionate to the specific
need for which they were designed, and not imposed for discriminatory purposes or applied in a
discriminatory manner. Where restrictions are justified on the basis of a need to protect public
morals, such restrictions must be based on principles not deriving exclusively from a single
tradition, as the concept of morals derives from many social, philosophical and religious traditions.
Furthermore, any such limitations must be understood in the light of universality of human rights
and the principle of non-discrimination.8
II. Operational Guidelines
A. Basic Principles of Action
15. EU action on freedom of religion or belief will be based on the following overriding principles:
1. Universal character of freedom of religion or belief
16. Freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief applies to all persons equally.9 It is a
universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone,10 regardless of who
they are, where they live, and what they believe or do not believe in.
5 Not even in time of public emergency – see article 4.2 of the ICCPR.
6 See indicative examples of paragraph 4 of the General Comment n°22.
7 See art 18.3 ICCPR.
8 See General Comment n°34.
9 Council Conclusions on Freedom of religion or belief, 16 November 2009.
10 Council Conclusions on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or
belief, 21 February 2011.
17. The universality of freedom of religion or belief is based on the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and international treaties,11 such as the ICCPR. Regional human right treaties12 can
also be referred to as appropriate to the extent that they are consistent with the ICCPR.
2. Freedom of religion or belief is an individual right which can be exercised in community
with others
18. Freedom of religion or belief protects every human being’s right to believe or to hold an
atheistic or non-theistic belief, and to change religion or belief. It does not protect a religion or
belief as such. Freedom of religion or belief applies to individuals, as right-holders, who may
exercise this right either individually or in community with others and in public or private. Its
exercise may thus also have a collective aspect.
19. This includes rights for communities to perform “acts integral to the conduct by religious
groups of their basic affairs”13. These rights include, but are not limited to, legal personality and
non-interference in internal affairs, including the right to establish and maintain freely accessible
places of worship or assembly, the freedom to select and train leaders or the right to carry out
social, cultural, educational and charitable activities.
20. There are no rights exclusive to holders of any particular religion or belief: all rights whether in
regard to the freedom to believe or to manifest one's religion or belief, are universal and are to be
respected on a non-discriminatory basis.
3. Primary role of States in ensuring freedom of religion or belief
21. States must ensure that their legal systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom
of thought, conscience, religion or belief to all, which are applicable to their entire territory without
exclusion or discrimination, and that these provisions are properly enforced.
22. States have a primary duty to protect all individuals living in their territory and subject to their
jurisdiction, including persons holding non-theistic or atheistic beliefs, persons belonging to
minorities14, and indigenous peoples15 and to safeguard their rights. States must treat all individuals
equally without discrimination on the basis of their religion or belief16.
23. States must put in place effective measures in order to prevent or sanction violations of freedom
of religion or belief when they occur, and ensure accountability.
24. Moreover, parties to the ICCPR have an obligation to prohibit any public advocacy of religious
hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence17. States should condemn
all acts of violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
11
A non exhaustive list of relevant treaties and declarations can be found in the Annex of these Guidelines.
12 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights; American Convention on Human Rights;
Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights; European Convention on Human Rights.
13 See general Comment n°22, paragraph 4.
14 See article 27 of the ICCPR, with specific reference to religious minorities, and UN
declaration 47/135 on the rights of persons belonging to minorities, article 2.
15 See UN declaration 61/295 on the rights of indigenous peoples, article 11 and 12.
16 See article 26 of the ICCPR.
17 Article 20 paragraph 2 of the ICCPR; such a prohibition was enforced in EU legislation
through the 2008 EU framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia, under which
4. Connection with the defence of other human rights and with other EU guidelines on
human rights
25. Freedom of religion or belief is intrinsically linked to freedom of opinion and expression,
freedom of association and assembly as well as to other human rights and fundamental freedoms all
of which contribute towards the building of pluralistic, tolerant, and democratic societies.
Expression of a religious or non-religious belief, or of an opinion concerning a religion or belief, is
also protected by the right to freedom of opinion and expression enshrined in Article 19 of the
ICCPR.
26. Certain practices associated with the manifestation of a religion or belief, or perceived as such,
may constitute violations of international human rights standards. The right to freedom of religion
or belief is sometimes invoked to justify such violations. The EU firmly opposes such justification,
whilst remaining fully committed to the robust protection and promotion of freedom of religion or
belief in all parts of the world. Violations often affect women, members of religious minorities, as
well as persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
27. In dealing with possible violations, use will be made of existing EU human rights guidelines,
notably the guidelines on the promotion and protection of rights of the child, on violence against
woman and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them, on human rights
defenders, on torture and on the death penalty, as well as the forthcoming EU guidelines on the
enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI persons, and on freedom of expression on line and off
line.
B. Priority Areas of Action
28. When addressing freedom of religion or belief, the EU will pay special attention to the
following themes, which are all of equal importance:
1. Violence
29. States have an obligation to guarantee human rights protection, and to exercise due diligence to
prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against persons based on their religion or belief.
Violence or the threat thereof – such as killing, execution, disappearance, torture, sexual violence,
abductions and inhuman or degrading treatment – are widespread phenomena that have to be
addressed. Such violence may be committed by state or non-state actors, based on the actual or
assumed religion or belief of the targeted person or based on the religious or
convictional/ideological tenets of the perpetrator.
30. The EU will:
a. Publicly condemn the execution or killing of individuals and other acts of grave violence on
the grounds of religion or belief. The EU will also consider additional sanctions, where
appropriate.
b. Demand immediate accountability of state or non-state perpetrators of such violence and
follow judicial proceedings to ensure that justice is delivered.
Member States have to punish with dissuasive penalties public incitement to violence or
hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined, notably, on
the basis of religion or belief.
c. Strongly encourage state and other influential actors in a society, whether religious or not, to
speak out against acts of violence and to publicly denounce such acts at the highest level,
particularly in cases where officials actively encourage or condone attacks on individuals or
communities and property, including places of worship or meeting, or historical religious
sites.
d. Protest when state officials or influential non-state actors spread inflammatory messages
about the holders of certain religious or other beliefs, including theistic, non-theistic or
atheistic persuasions, especially when they openly call for, or justify, violence against them.
e. Demand the national adoption of laws that prohibit public advocacy of religious hatred that
constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence (Art. 20 paragraph 2 of the
ICCPR).
f. Consistently condemn any violence against women and girls, including "honour" killings,
female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages, as well as violence against persons on
the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity including situations when violence is
perpetrated under the pretext of a religious prescription or practice. The EU shall promote
initiatives, including legislation, to prevent and criminalize such violence.
2. Freedom of expression
31. Freedom of religion or belief and the freedom of expression are interdependent, interrelated and
mutually reinforcing rights, protecting all persons - not religions or beliefs in themselves - and
protecting also the right to express opinions on any or all religions and beliefs. Censorship and
restrictions on the publication and distribution of literature or of websites related to religion or
belief are common violations of both of these freedoms, and impair the ability of individuals and
communities to practice their religion or belief. Limitations to the right to express opinions on
religion or belief are a source of great vulnerability for people belonging to religion or belief
minorities, but also affect majorities, not least persons holding non-traditional religious views.
Taken together, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression play an important role in
the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.
32. In the event that violence is threatened or carried out, or restrictions are imposed in connection
with an expression of opinions on religion or belief, the EU will be guided by the following
principles:
a. When critical comments are expressed about religions or beliefs and such expression is
perceived by adherents as being so offensive that it may result in violence towards or by
adherents, then:
o If there is a prima facie case that this expression constitutes hate speech, i.e. falls within
the strict scope of article 20 paragraph 2 of the ICCPR (which prohibits any advocacy of
religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence), the
EU will denounce it, and demand that it be investigated and tried by an independent
judge.
o If this expression does not rise to the level of incitement prohibited under article 20 of the
ICCPR, and is thus an exercise of free speech, the EU will:
i. Resist any calls or attempts for the criminalisation of such speech;
ii. Individually or jointly with States or regional organisations, endeavour to issue
statements calling for no violence to be committed and condemning any violence
committed in reaction to such speech;
iii. Encourage state and other influential actors, whether religious or non-religious, to
speak out and to engage in constructive public debate concerning what they see as
offensive speech, condemning any form of violence;
iv. Recall that the most effective way to combat a perceived offense from the exercise
of freedom of expression is the use of freedom of expression itself. Freedom of
expression applies online as well as offline18. New forms of media as well as
information and communications technology provide those who feel offended by
criticism or rejection of their religion or belief with the tools to instantly exercise
their right of reply.
o In any case, the EU will recall, when appropriate, that the right to freedom of religion or
belief, as enshrined in relevant international standards, does not include the right to have
a religion or a belief that is free from criticism or ridicule19.
b. When faced with restrictions to freedom of expression in the name of religion or belief, the
EU will:
o Recall that restrictions to freedom of expression shall only be such as are prescribed by
law and are necessary to safeguard the rights or reputation of others, or for the protection
of national security or of public order (ordre public) or of public health or morals,20 and
that no national security restriction is permissible for freedom of religion and belief21.
o Defend the fact that sharing information about religions or beliefs and engaging in
persuasion on these matters is protected under international law, provided that such
persuasion is neither coercive nor impairs the freedom of others.
o Recall at all appropriate occasions that laws that criminalize blasphemy restrict
expression concerning religious or other beliefs; that they are often applied so as to
persecute, mistreat, or intimidate persons belonging to religious or other minorities, and
that they can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and on freedom of
religion or belief; and recommend the decriminalisation of such offences.
o Forcefully advocate against the use of the death penalty, physical punishment, or
deprivation of liberty as penalties for blasphemy.
o Recall that international human rights law protects individuals, not Religion or Belief per
se. Protecting a religion or belief may not be used to justify or condone a restriction or
violation of a human right exercised by individuals alone or in community with others.
3. Promotion of respect for diversity and tolerance
33. The promotion of religious tolerance, respect for diversity and mutual understanding are of
utmost importance with a view to creating an environment conducive to the full enjoyment by all
persons of freedom of religion or belief.
34. The EU will:
a. Encourage state and other influential actors, whether religious or non-religious, to refrain
from fostering inter-religious tensions, either by law or practice, to support pertinent
initiatives to promote an atmosphere of respect and tolerance between all persons regardless
of their religion or belief, and to defuse emerging tensions.
b. Call on states to promote, through the educational system and other means, respect for
diversity and mutual understanding by encouraging a wider knowledge of the diversity of
religions and beliefs within their jurisdiction.
18 See UN Human Rights Council resolution 20/8.
19 See paragraph 19 of the conclusions of the Rabat Plan of Action on incitement to hatred, 5
October 2012.
20 Article 19.3 ICCPR.
21 Article 18.3 ICCPR. See also General Comments n° 22 and 34.
c. Make use of all available tools, including the financial instruments, to promote a culture of
mutual respect, diversity, tolerance, dialogue and peace and coordinate, as appropriate, with
regional and international organisations in order to do so.
4. Discrimination
35. States have a duty to protect all persons within their jurisdiction from direct and indirect
discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, whatever the reasons advanced for such
discrimination. This includes the duty to rescind discriminatory legislation, implement legislation
that protects freedom of religion or belief, and halt official practices that cause discrimination, as
well as to protect people from discrimination by state and other influential actors, whether religious
or non-religious
36. Beliefs or practices that are, or allegedly are, traditional are often used to justify discrimination
or coercion on the basis of religion or belief. Examples of this include denial of access to
employment or education for women, bride kidnapping, early and forced marriage or female genital
mutilation. Communities do not have the right to violate the rights of individual members of that
community. All individuals, including women and girls, have the right to a religion or belief of their
own individual choice, including not to have a religion or belief. Attention needs also to be paid to
discrimination against ethnic groups, persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender
identity, or adherents to certain doctrinal interpretations.
37. The EU will:
a. Condemn and take appropriate action (demarches, public statements, support for CSOs and
HRDs, etc.) against all forms of intolerance and discrimination against persons because of
their religion or belief as contrary to the right to equality and non-discrimination in the
enjoyment of human rights (Art 2 and 26 of the ICCPR, Art 2 of the ICESCR).
b. Issue a démarche when constitutional and legal provisions of a state promote, encourage or
permit such discriminations. The EU shall offer its technical assistance in order to help bring
such provisions in line with international legal obligations.
c. Pay particular attention to practices and legislation discriminating against women, children
and migrants on grounds of religion or belief, including discrimination in and denial of
access to education, coercion related to the wearing of religious symbols, employment,
participation in public life, unequal family rights, transmission of nationality, free circulation
and establishment of residence, lack of impartial administration of justice, property rights,
etc.
d. Support international, state, and non-state actors in their efforts to educate the broader
population on international legal standards and on the destructive effects of discrimination on
its victims and on the well-being of society at large.
5. Changing or leaving one's religion or belief
38. Limitations to the absolute right to change or leave one’s religion or belief are among the most
common violations of freedom of religion or belief22. These limitations can have a severe impact on
converts and individuals leaving their religion or belief and their families, both due to state actions
(e.g. imprisonment, loss of child custody, disinheritance, loss of property rights) and due to violent
acts by non-state actors, such as “honour killings”.
22 See in this regard report of UNSR on Freedom of religion or belief to the UNGA, 13 August
2012, A/67/603.
39. The EU will:
· Call on states to repeal legal provisions penalising or discriminating against individuals for
leaving or changing their religion or belief or for inducing others to change a religion or
belief especially when cases of apostasy, heterodoxy, or conversion are punishable by the
death penalty or by long prison terms.23
· Condemn the use of coercive measures against individuals in their choice or exercise of
religion or belief. States must impartially apply measures against coercion in religion or
belief.
6. Manifestation of religion or belief
40. Individuals, have the right to decide for themselves whether and how they wish to manifest their
religion or belief. Limitations to this freedom have to be strictly interpreted.24 Manifestation of one's
religion or belief can take many forms. This includes the right of children to learn about the
faith/belief of their parents, and the right of parents to teach their children in the tenets of their
religion or belief. It also includes the right to peacefully share one’s religion or belief with others,
without being subject to the approval of the state or another religious community. Any limitation on
freedom of religion or belief, including regarding places of worship and state registration of
religious or belief groups, must be exceptional and in compliance with international standards.
41. Frequent restrictions by States include the denial of legal personality to religious and belief
communities, the denial of access to places of worship/meeting and burial, the punishment of
unregistered religious activity with exorbitant fines or prison terms, or the requirement for children
from religious and belief minorities to receive confessional education in the beliefs of the majority.
Several states do not recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service as part of the
legitimate exercise of the freedom of religion or belief, deriving from article 18 of the ICCPR25.
Abuses by non-state actors include the destruction of places of worship, the desecration of burial
grounds, forced observance of religious norms and acts of violence.
42. The EU will:
a. Challenge attempts to make the exercise of human rights conditional upon state permission,
for example by compulsory registration of religious or belief groups and/or the banning of
unregistered religious activity.
b. Take action when requirements for religious or belief-related organisations to register are
used as a means of state control rather than to facilitate the exercise of the freedom of
religion or belief.
c. Encourage States to ensure the protection of religious heritage sites and places of worship,26
especially when groups of people gathered in these places face threats. In cases of acts of
vandalism and desecration or destruction of religious sites, the EU and Member States
missions shall endeavour to visit the sites and to bring public attention to the destruction and
its consequences.
d. Take action when property used for religious worship is unduly confiscated, or people are
otherwise prevented from using it in the way in which it is legitimately intended.
23 See EU Guidelines on death penalty, part III, Minimum standards paper.
24 See developments on limitations in the "Definitions" chapter of these guidelines.
25 See General Comment n°22.
26 See Joint declaration of UN experts on the "destruction of cultural and religious sites: a
violation of human rights", 24 September 2012.
e. Take action when disproportionate administrative or regulatory burden are placed on the
internal affairs of religion or belief groups, and their institutions or their organisations, so as
to prevent manifestations of freedom of religion or belief in community with others and in
public or private27 and the exercise of the linked freedoms of association and peaceful
assembly.
f. Condemn legislation that provides for discriminatory treatment of persons or groups
belonging to different religions and beliefs, as well as the discriminatory application to such
persons and groups of nominally neutral legislation.
g. Encourage States to respect the right to conscientious objection to military service, based on
one's religion or belief, and allow for an alternative service of a non-combatant or civilian
character.
7. Support and protection for human rights defenders including individual cases
43. In line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the EU will promote respect for
and recognition of the work conducted by human rights defenders on behalf of religious groups,
philosophical, non-confessional or other civil society organisations.28
44. The EU will react to violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, whether perpetrated
by state or non-state actors, which affect particular individuals, through demarches, statements and
other actions – including raising specific cases during political dialogues - in line with the EU
Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.
45. EU or Member State officials will attend and observe trials of persons prosecuted for exercising
their right to freedom of religion or belief. The EU or Member State officials will make every effort
to visit such persons in detention or prison.
8. Support for – and engagement with - civil society
46. The EU will make clear its full support for the efforts of civil society to promote freedom of
religion or belief. The EU and its Member States will, where appropriate, continue to make
available financial support to non-governmental organisations working for freedom of religion or
belief. The EU will promote the visibility of local organisations working on freedom of religion or
belief, through hosting or supporting public events on this issue, with special emphasis on involving
different religious and belief groups. The EU will regularly consult civil society, including religious
associations, non-confessional and philosophical organisations on ways to promote FoRB in its
external human rights policies, as well as on individual cases.
27 See General Comment n° 22, paragraph 4.
28 See EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.
C. Tools
1. Monitoring, assessing and reporting
47. EU missions (EU Delegations and Member States Embassies and Consulates) form a key
component in early warning. EU missions, in co-ordination with any relevant CSDP missions, will
monitor respect for freedom of religion or belief in third countries and will identify and report on
situations of concern (including individual cases and systemic issues), drawing on available sources
in and outside the country, including civil society, so that the EU can take prompt and appropriate
action. Reports from EU Delegations should be taken up in the relevant Council Working Parties
and, when appropriate, in the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in order to identify an
appropriate response.
48. Through its local presence and HQ capacities, the EU will:
a. Monitor and assess the situation of freedom of religion or belief at country level, to
identify progress or concerns, along the priorities and themes covered by these guidelines.
b. Maintain contact with parties concerned by violations or conflicts, local and regional
authorities, local and international civil society organisations, including women
organisations, human rights defenders as well as with religious and belief groups in order
to be fully informed and updated on specific situations, including on individual cases,
systemic issues and conflict related aspects. In these contacts, the EU will pay attention to
groups within any one religion or belief system, to women and young people.
c. Include in the human rights Country Strategies and periodic reporting an analysis of the
situation of freedom of religion or belief, including the occurrence of violations; detail any
measures (e.g. requests made to state authorities, raising the issue in political dialogues,
financing), planned or taken in response to violations.
d. Ensure follow up and reporting on individual cases and systemic issues.
e. Address freedom of religion or belief in the EU annual human rights report.
2. Demarches and public diplomacy
49. The EU will raise freedom of religion or belief in appropriate high-level contacts, including at
the level of the HR/VP and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and Heads of
Delegation.
50. The EU will, when appropriate, issue demarches or public statements both preventively and in
response to serious violations of FoRB, such as executions, extrajudicial killings, unfair trials,
outbreaks of communal violence or violent attacks. It will also consider issuing statements to
highlight positive developments in the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.
3. Political dialogues
51. In political dialogues with partner countries and regional organisations, the EU will encourage
partner countries to accede to and implement relevant international instruments, particularly the
ICCPR, and to lift reservations to these instruments; it will encourage partner countries to invite UN
Human Rights Special Procedures, particularly the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or
Belief, and to accept and implement UN recommendations, including from treaty monitoring bodies
and the Universal Periodic Review. The EU will address as appropriate systemic issues and
individual cases and call on partner countries to initiate legislative changes to ensure equality before
the law for individuals regarding freedom of religion or belief.
52. The EU will use political dialogues to encourage co-operation and coordination efforts to
promote freedom of religion or belief in multilateral fora and will support the dissemination of best
practices at regional level.
4. EU and Member State visits
53. The EU will ensure that EU institutions and Member States visiting third countries are fully
briefed on the situation of freedom of religion or belief. Such visits will, when appropriate, raise
the priorities and themes covered by these guidelines with local counterparts and meet with human
rights defenders.
5. Use of external financial instruments
54. Freedom of religion or belief will remain one of the priorities of the European Instrument for
Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), including through funding for human rights defenders
projects and assistance to individuals under immediate threat. Other EU geographic and thematic
funding instruments will also be used as appropriate to promote freedom of religion or belief in
cooperation with partner countries. Attention will be given to capacity building and training projects
for mediation in prevention or resolution of violence and conflict based on religion or belief29.
55. EU Delegations can support civil society projects on freedom of religion or belief under the
Country-Based Support Schemes (CBSS). Human rights projects with a wider scope on promotion
of human rights, anti-discrimination, right of persons belonging to minorities, indigenous peoples,
respect for diversity, tolerance and intercultural understanding, as well as tackling the root causes of
conflict and fighting against impunity will also contribute to protecting the right to freedom of
religion or belief.
56. Member States, the EEAS and the Commission services will, where appropriate, share
information on projects financed in third countries in the field of freedom of religion or belief, to
allow better coordination and efficient use of resources.
57. Violations of freedom of religion or belief will be taken into account by the EU when deciding
on appropriate measures under human rights clauses in agreements with third countries, including
the possible suspension of the cooperation, notably as regards financial assistance.
6. Promoting FoRB in multilateral fora
58. The EU will ensure that freedom of religion or belief remains prominently on the UN agenda,
featuring a strong human rights approach, and that the UN continues to provide a strong response to
violations of freedom of religion or belief and acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or
belief.
59. The EU will continue to work actively at the UN to ensure strong cross-regional support for the
promotion and defence of freedom of religion or belief, the mandate of the Special rapporteur on
FoRB, and the implementation of the relevant UN resolutions in that field.
29 See also "EU concept on strengthening EU mediation and dialogue capacities" (2009).
60. The EU will also engage in the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination on
grounds of religion or belief, and the implementation of the relevant UN resolutions in that field, as
well as in initiatives in the field of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in the spirit of
openness, engagement, and mutual understanding, including in the framework of UNESCO, the UN
Alliance of Civilisations, the Anna Lindh Foundation, and the Istanbul process.
61. The EU considers these efforts as complementary to the full and effective promotion of the right
to freedom of religion or belief, and in engaging, the EU will strive for consistent references to
"freedom of religion or belief" and for upholding in all texts a human rights focus based on
universal standards related to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and other
fundamental freedoms. Religious tolerance as well as inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue must
be promoted in a human rights perspective, ensuring respect of freedom of religion or belief,
freedom of expression and other human rights and fundamental freedoms.
62. The EU will continue to cooperate with existing UN early warning mechanisms including
regarding violence based on religion or belief, and will encourage the exchange of best practices.
63. EU Member States will draw attention, as appropriate, to freedom of religion or belief in the
Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The implementation of
recommendations accepted by the state under review will be monitored and supported as
appropriate.
64. The EU will also build on the content of the UN resolutions on "freedom of religion or belief",
as well as relevant concluding observations of UN treaty monitoring bodies and recommendations
of special rapporteurs in its bilateral engagement with partner countries.
65. The EU will promote initiatives at the level of OSCE and the Council of Europe and contribute
to better implementation of commitments in the area of freedom of religion or belief. Regular
exchanges will be organised with these organisations. Particular attention shall be paid to
engagement with OSCE and Council of Europe countries that are not EU Member States.
66. The EU will step up its engagement with other regional organisations and regional human rights
mechanisms across the world, on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.
7. Training
67. The EEAS, in coordination with Member States and in co-operation with civil society including
churches and religious associations, philosophical and non-confessional organisations, will develop
training materials for staff in the field and in headquarters. Materials will be made available to
Member States and EU institutions. Training will be practical in its orientation, focused on enabling
EU missions to use EU tools for analysis and reporting effectively so as to highlight EU thematic
priorities and respond to violations.
III. Implementation and Evaluation
68. The EU will further strengthen its cooperation with the Office of the United-Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The EU will engage with international organisations on freedom of religion or belief. The EU will
strengthen its exchanges with regional expert bodies on freedom of religion or belief, such as the
Council of Europe (including the Venice Commission), the Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as
well as with relevant regional and national bodies tasked with the promotion and protection of
freedom of religion and belief.
69. COHOM and its Task Force on Freedom of religion or belief will support the implementation of
the Guidelines while involving, when appropriate, geographic Council working groups. It will
develop additional guidance for action for EU missions, in particular regarding systemic issues and
individual cases. It will adopt “lines to take” documents on key questions and topical issues when
necessary.
70. COHOM will evaluate the implementation of these guidelines after a period of three years, inter
alia on the basis of the reports submitted by Heads of Mission and after consultation with civil
society and relevant academic experts. Consultation of civil society should involve human rights
defenders, NGOs including domestic and international human rights and women’s organisations.
This consultation will involve churches and religious associations, philosophical and nonconfessional
organisations in the context of the open, transparent and regular dialogue held under
article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
71. Regular exchanges of views will be held with the relevant committees, sub committees and
working groups of the European Parliament on the implementation, evaluation and review of these
guidelines.
---
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AEX
Non-exhaustive list of international norms, standards and principles
the EU may invoke or use in contacts with third countries
United ations
Treaties:
1948 – Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
§ Article II – Defintion of "genocide"
1951 – Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
§ Article 1 – Definition of "refugee"
§ Article 3 – Non-discrimination
§ Article 4 – Religion
§ Article 33 – Prohibition of refoulement
1954 – Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
§ Article 3, 4
1966 – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
§ Articles 2, 4,18, 20, 24, 26, 27
1966 – International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
§ Article 5
1966 – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
§ Article 2, 13
1979 – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
§ Article 2
1989 – United 4ations Convention on the Rights of the Child
§ Articles 2, 14, 20, 29, 30
Declarations:
1948 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
§ Articles 2, 16, 18, 26
1981 – Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
Religion or Belief 1986 – Declaration on the Right to Development
§ Article 6
1992 – Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to 4ational or Ethnic, Religious and
Linguistic Minorities
2007 – United 4ations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
General Comments
1993 – Human Rights Committee - General Comment n°22: The right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion (Art. 18)
1994 – Human Rights Committee – General Comment 4o. 23: The rights of minorities (Art. 27)
2011 – Human Rights Committee – General Comment n°34 : Freedoms of opinion and expression
(Art. 19)
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Regional standards
It should be noted that some regional standards offer limited or insufficient protection to freedom of
religion or belief in comparison to international standards. EU staff should be aware of such
limitations when referring to them.
Council of Europe
1950 – Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
§ Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
§ Article 10
1952 – Protocol n°1 (to above)
§ Article 14 –Prohibition of discrimination
§ Article 2 – Right to education
2000 – Protocol n°12 (to above)
§ Article 1 – General Prohibition of Discrimination
1995 – Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
§ Articles 4.1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 17
2006 – Commentary on education (under the above)
1997 – European Convention on 4ationality
§ Article 5 – Non-Discrimination
2006 – Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in relation to State-
Succession
§ Article 4 – Non-Discrimination
2011 – Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and
domestic violence
§ Articles 4, 12, 32, 37, 38, 42
2000 – ECRI General Policy Recommendation n°5: Combating intolerance and discrimination
against Muslims
2002 – ECRI General Policy Recommendation n°7: 4ational legislation to combat racism and
racial discrimination
2004 – ECRI General Policy Recommendation n°9: The fight against anti-Semitism
2004 – Council of Europe Venice Commission / OSCE “Guidelines for Review of Legislation
Pertaining to Religion or Belief”.
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Helsinki Final Act 1975 – Basket 1, principle 7
Concluding document of Vienna follow-up meeting 1989 – Articles 11, 13,16, 17, 19, 20, 32, 59,
63, 68
1989 – Vienna Concluding Document – Principles 13, 16 and 17.
2004 – Council of Europe Venice Commission / OSCE “Guidelines for Review of Legislation
Pertaining to Religion or Belief”.
2007 – OSCE – Toledo principles on teaching about religions and beliefs in public schools
Prepared by the ODHIR Advisory Council of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief
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Organisation of American States (OAS)
1969 – American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San José’, Costa Rica)
§ Article 1 – Obligation to respect rights.
§ Article 12 – Freedom of Conscience and Religion.
§ Article 13 – Punishment of advocacy of religious hatred.
§ Article 16 – Freedom of Association
§ Article 22 – Freedom of Movement and Residence.
1988 – Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador).
§ Article 3 – Obligation of Non-discrimination
1994 – Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence
against Women (‘Convention of Belém Do Para’)
§ Article 4
African Union (AU)
1969 –Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.
§ Article IV – Non-discrimination.
1981 – African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
§ Articles 2, 8
1990 – African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
§ Article 1 – Obligation of State Parties.
§ Article 3 – Non-Discrimination.
§ Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
§ Article 11 – Education.
§ Article 25 – Separation from Parents.
§ Article 26 – Protection against discrimination.
League of Arab States
2004 – Arab Charter on Human Rights
§ Articles 3, 4, 25, 30, 34
ASEA
2012 – ASEA4 Human Rights Declaration
§ Article 22
The Commonwealth
2013 – Charter of Human Rights
§ Section IV – Tolerance, Respect and Understanding
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European Union and Member States
Treaty on European Union
§ Article 6
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
§ Article 11
§ Article 17
2000 – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
§ Article 10 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
§ Article 14 – Right to education
§ Article 21 – Non-discrimination.
§ Article 22 – Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
2006 - EU Equal Treatment Directive
2008 - EU Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia
2009 - Council Conclusions on freedom of religion or belief, 16 4ovember 2009
2011 - Council Conclusions on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or
belief, 21 February 2011.
2011 – Council Conclusions on Conflict Prevention, 20 June 2011.
2009 – EU Concept on strengthening EU mediation and dialogue capacities
2009 - Freedom of Religion or Belief – how the FCO can help promote respect for this human right
(UK toolkit on freedom of religion or belief)

Towards a church tax system in Romania ?

 Le financement des cultes va très probablement faire l’objet d’un vif débat en Roumanie. Dans ce pays, comme dans la plupart des pays de tradition orthodoxes qui faisaient partie des pays communistes, les églises orthodoxes ont récupéré leurs biens et ne semblent guère favorable à l’instauration d’une quelconque forme de pluralisme philosophique, encore moins à permettre aux citoyens d’exercer leur choix en la matière.

nos amis humaniste roumains, favorables à la séparation des églises et de l’état préféreront un système d’impôt inspiré des modèles allemands ou norvégiens au statu quo.

Media, politicians and, of course, the Orthodox Church, have been frantically debating proposed changes to the public funding of religious institutions in Romania, in recent weeks. New legislation, inspired by the German « church tax » model, would allow all citizens to direct a part of their income tax to the churches or other organisations of their choosing. This would replace the current system in which religious groups are funded at the discretion of parliament, with most funding going to the Romanian Orthodox Church.

 

The reform, proposed by Remus Cernea MP (Green Party), would save 70 millions Euro per year. Moreover it would allow citizens who do not support the church or who are non-religious to redirect their taxes to secular or humanist non-governmental organisations.

 

« We feel that the majority of Romanian citizens would approve the proposed reform. But there have been some very negative, very undemocratic replies from many politicians, » argues Cezar Maroti, president of the Romanian Humanis Association (RHA). He cites Radu Mazare, the mayor of Constanta (the city where Remus Cernea was recently elected deputy in the Romanian Parliament) who threatend Cernea that he « will break his legs » unless a public apology is offered to the Orthodox Church. Also, George Becali, former MEP, known for his strong support to Christian Orthodox issues, called Cernea « satanist », « imbecile », « devil », « animal » and said that he should be « exiled to prison » or to the « mad house » over the proposed legislation.

 

The Romanian Orthodox Church itself said the optional church tax model was « unrealistic and inadequate ». Similar systems have been introduced in several European countries included Norway and Germany.

 

Remus Cernea clearly believes that his proposal has been misunderstood. « I actually support a funding model of different religious groups. Romania doesn’t really have a law on religious funding at the moment. Funding is granted arbitrarily, at the discretion of politicians. I propose a system of financing religious groups that gives the choice to individual citizens, and will even help religion or belief groups benefit from predictable, stable and quite substantial funding. This system will strengthen their autonomy. »

 

On 25 May, the Romanian Humanist Association conference, held in conjunction with the European Humanist Federation and International Humanist and Ethical Union, will take place in Bucharest. « We advocate secularism, » said Maroti. « This is simply the idea that the church and state should be separate. This is also in the best interest of the churches and all the believers. The church should be independent and should not be controlled by politicians. Receiving money from the politicians is making the church vulnerable to political influence, which is not good for anyone. Also, the current system is unfair, unjust and it discriminates against the growing number of Romanians who are non-religious or humanist in their outlook. It’s going to be a lively debate! »

Cezar Maroti
President of the Romanian Humanist Association

Cezar Maroti [cezar.maroti@gmail.com]

 

 

Europe et laïcité, info ou promo ?

La lecture de l‘entretien entre Marcel Conradt et Ricardo Guttierez paru dans le Soir ce 5 avril me laisse une impression très mitigée. Mais, dans la mesure où j’y suis nommément cité (sans en avoir été averti), je ne peux guère faire autrement que de réagir.

Je n’ai pas lu l‘ouvrage de Marcel Conradt et ne suis donc pas en mesure de savoir si l’interview est ou non un reflet fidèle de son contenu. Mais je dois regretter deux choses, la présence, en quelques lignes de texte, de plusieurs erreurs factuelles (et si elles sont imputables à l’auteur présenté comme historien, on est en droit de s’interroger sur la nécessaire rigueur en matière de critique historique) et une analyse somme toute très superficielle des efforts des organisations laïques dans le contexte européen.

Je suis aussi bien conscient qu’il s’agit davantage dans cet article de faire la promotion commerciale d’un ouvrage que de se livrer à une étude détaillé du sujet. Je ne peux pourtant que regretter que l’auteur n’ait fait aucun effort pour me contacter, alors qu’il ne semble pas ignorer que j’ai joué un petit rôle dans ce dossier. D’autant que, manipulation de journaliste ou reflet de la conviction de l’auteur, l’article semble insinuer que le mouvement laïque « apparaît comme complice de la montée en puissance des religions au sommet de l’Union européenne ».

Corrigeons donc d’abord les erreurs factuelles.

1° En lançant le programme « Giving a Soul to Europe » en 1994, Delors n’ouvrait pas les portes de l’UE aux Eglises. Des contacts réguliers existaient déjà entre la COMECE (les épiscopats catholiques) et EECCS (le conseil œcuménique des Eglises, regroupant essentiellement des protestants et des orthodoxes). L’objectif de l’initiative (suggérée à Jacques Delors par la Cellule de Prospective) était un élargissement de ces contacts à d’autres  groupes.

2° En 1994, je n’étais plus Secrétaire général du CAL (depuis le 31 août 1993), mais bien Secrétaire Général de la Fédération Humaniste Européenne que j’ai contribué à fonder en 1990.

3° il est inexact de dire que les associations laïques n’ont jamais reçu de subsides pour des projets dans le cadre de l’initiative. Plusieurs projets ont été soutenus, dont un colloque au Parlement polonais et d’autres à Utrecht ou à Berlin. Certes les projets portés par les organisations religieuses étaient plus nombreux, mais c’était là un reflet assez fidèle des capacités financières et organisationnelles des associations laïques.

4° Enfin, le comité de l’initiative n’a rien eu à voir avec le financement des JMJ de Cologne de 2005, pour deux raisons très simples. D’abord parce que depuis au moins quatre ans, le comité ne donnait plus d’avis sur  les demandes de financement de ce type de projets. Ensuite parce qu’à cette date, l’initiative était en voie de dissolution ! Encore une fois, l’argument de Marcel Conradt ne résiste guère à la dure réalité des faits.

Enfin, sans me lancer dans un plaidoyer pro domo, je voudrais fournir à ce débat quelques éléments d’analyse.

Quand l’Initiative ‘donner une âme à l’Europe’ (c’est son premier nom) est lancée, la Fédération humaniste européenne en est à ses balbutiements. Les organisations laïques sont inconnues dans les institutions européennes où – à titre individuel – les non-croyants ont plutôt tendance à faire profil bas. Participer à l’Initiative, même en y jouant un rôle modeste ce n’était pas de la complaisance, mais l’occasion de faire connaître ce que nous étions (showing the flag, comme disent les anglo-saxons). Je me souviens encore de ce colloque organisé par la commission à Tolède en 1995 (au lendemain de l’assassinat de Rabin) qui avait pour thème ‘les religions monothéistes autour du bassin méditerranéen’. Ma première prise de parole, m’a donné l’occasion de me présenter comme athée et matérialiste. La pause-café qui a suivi a permis un entretien très intéressant avec des intellectuels musulmans qui n’avaient pas vraiment l’habitude de cohabiter avec des mécréants de mon espèce. Mais le fait que je sois un des présidents de séance me donnait une légitimité dont il eut été contre-productif de se priver.

De 1990, date de  la création de la FHE, à aujourd’hui, le travail a été long et difficile ; la plupart des associations membres n’étaient pas riches, devaient souvent mettre les combats nationaux en priorité et ne disposaient pas d’une énorme expertise européenne. Une autre de nos préoccupations était de réconcilier des visions parfois disparates de  la laïcité ou de l’humanisme (je partage pas la vision franchouillarde de Marcel Conradt qui tend à penser que la notion de laïcité est un évidence. Je conseille à ceux qui sont de cet avis quelques conversations sérieuses avec des anglais ou des norvégiens). A titre personnel, au lieu de gémir comme Marcel Conradt, je me réjouirais plutôt de voir les progrès accomplis.

Si j’avais, moi, des critiques à formuler, je ne les adresserais pas à ceux qui ont fait des choses (peut-être maladroitement), mais plutôt à ceux qui n’ont rien fait, à commencer par les parlementaires européens dont les soutiens à la FHE et aux mouvements laïques et humanistes a toujours été d’une remarquable discrétion.

Parce qu’enfin, il faut savoir ce que l’on veut. Chacun sait que les institutions européennes sont perméables aux lobbies de toute sorte. Que les églises et les mouvements religieux s’inscrivent dans cette logique n’a – à mes yeux – rien de choquant. Mais on ne combat l’influence d’un adversaire ni en le diabolisant (les mouvements religieux sont – quand on les approche de plus près – traversés de nombreuses contradictions exploitables), ni en l’ignorant. Il faut, en effet, avoir une longue cuillère pour manger avec le diable, mais pour en juger, il faut, au contraire de ce que laisse penser l’article, peser correctement les faits et ne pas se limiter à des erreurs, des demi-vérités ou des analyses de café du commerce.

«Europe : la laïcité a raté le coche»

  • Ricardo Gutierrez et Pascal Martin

Vendredi 5 avril 2013

Marcel Conradt dévoile les combats perdus des laïques face aux religieux.

Le belge Marcel Conradt avait déjà dénoncé les lobbies religieux à l’œuvre, dans les hautes sphères des institutions européennes. Son nouveau livre, « L’Union européenne, les églises et nous » (1), dévoile l’étonnante passivité des organisations laïques.

A vous lire, le mouvement laïque apparaît presque comme complice de la montée en puissance des religions, au sommet de l’Union européenne…

Les faits sont là : en 1994, c’est le socialiste Jacques Delors, alors président sortant de la Commission européenne, qui ouvre la porte de l’Europe aux Eglises en lançant l’initiative « Soul – Une âme pour l’Europe ». Par souci d’équilibre, il offre la présidence du programme à la discrète Fédération humaniste européenne (FHE), alors pilotée par le secrétaire général du Centre d’action laïque (CAL), le belge Claude Wachtelaer.

Le mouvement laïque était donc bien représenté…

Officiellement. Mais dans les faits, aucune association laïque ne rentrera de projets au programme « Soul », qui ne dispose pas de moyens énormes, mais qui contribuera tout de même au financement de projets portés par les religieux, comme les Journées Mondiales de la Jeunesse, à Cologne, subsidiées malgré un vote négatif du Parlement européen.

Sans réaction des fédérations laïques nationales ?

En Belgique, le CAL s’en désintéressait totalement. Beaucoup de laïques considéraient que les églises ne constituaient plus un danger : on avait obtenu la dépénalisation de l’avortement, les paroisses se vidaient. La laïcité marquait n’en finissait plus de marquer des points dans la vieille Europe.

Les religions ripostent ?

Le tournant, c’est la visite du pape Jean-Paul II à Strasbourg, en 1988 : il trace alors les contours de ce qui deviendra l’article 17 du traité sur le fonctionnement de l’Union européenne, disposition qui instaure une obligation de « dialogue » avec les églises, les associations philosophiques et non-confessionnelles. Un dialogue officieux avec la seule Commission, dans un premier temps, avec une liste de « partenaires » qui restait secrète. Puis un dialogue étendu au Conseil et au Parlement européens.

Les laïques avaient manifestement voix au chapitre.

Oui, mais si les églises ont fait leur travail, porté leurs revendications, les laïques, en revanche, ont été piégés par leur individualisme, leur manque de stratégie, d’organisation.

Le président du CAL, Pierre Galant, préside la Fédération humaniste européenne, depuis mai 2012…

J’ai l’espoir que son dynamisme, son réseau et une équipe qu’il maîtrise rendront à la Fédération le poids politique qu’elle devrait avoir. Il est plus que temps : ces 20 dernières années, admettons que nous avons raté la structuration de la laïcité dans l’Union européenne. Nous sommes seuls responsables de cette situation. Il faut, d’urgence, restaurer une expertise laïque, au sommet de l’Europe. Peser à nouveau sur les combats qu’inspirent la laïcité. Ne pas se contenter de réagir aux débats qu’on nous impose.

l’Ombudsman donne raison à la FHE

fichier pdf Commission failed to implement Article 17 in EHF case

Stem cells research & human embryonic stem cells

Press release.

Brussels, October 9 2012.

It is with great interest and pleasure that we learned of the award of the 2012 Nobel Prize for medicine to Professors Gurdon and Yamanaka for their pioneering work on stem cell research. As the Nobel committee rightly states, their work has revolutionized science. In fact it does much more than that as it offers the hope for relief from suffering for millions of human beings throughout the world.
However, whatever the immense merits of John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka’s work on adult stem cells, it should not be used as a pretext to hamper human embryonic stem cells research. Since stem cells research is recent and therapeutically promising, it should be encouraged in all its options. As a consequence, it is essential that the European Union continues to contribute to this massive progress for humanity without any dogmatic views. And at times of economic turbulence, Europe has an opportunity to choose cutting edge research and to be a world leader in innovation.
We the undersigned, representatives of the organisations composing the Advisory Board of the European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics, therefore call on the European Union institutions to ensure adequate funding for stem cell research by the EU, including for the use of human embryonic stem cells, in the 2020 Horizon 8th Framework Programme 2014 – 2020.
Association Européenne pour la Pensée Libre (AEPL)
Catholics for Choice
Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir de Espana
Centre communautaire laïc juif (CCLJ)
Centre d’Action Laïque (CAL)
European Humanist Federation (EHF)
European Network Church on the Move
Institut Maçonnique Européen
National Secular Society (NSS)
Contact:
Julie Pernet – European Humanist Federation (EHF)

Cellules souches & cellules souches embryonnaires humaines.

Communiqué de presse.

Bruxelles, le 9 octobre 2012.

C’est avec grand plaisir et intérêt que nous avons pris connaissance de l’attribution du prix Nobel de médecine aux Professeurs Gurdon et Yamanaka pour leur travail sur les cellules souches. Comme l’a souligné le Comité du prix Nobel, cette recherche porte les germes d’une révolution scientifique qui offre l’espoir d’un soulagement des souffrances de millions d’êtres humains dans le monde.
Bien que nous reconnaissions les immenses mérites de John B. Gurdon et Shinya Yamanaka, nous pensons que leur recherche sur les cellules souches adultes ne peut être un prétexte pour entraver les recherches sur les cellules souches embryonnaires. En effet, les recherches sur les cellules souches sont très prometteuses d’un point de vue thérapeutique et doivent donc être encouragées dans toutes leurs options. Par conséquent, il est essentiel que l’Union Européenne (UE) continue de contribuer à ces recherches sans se soumettre à aucun dogme. En cette période de crise économique, l’UE dispose à présent d’une opportunité unique de montrer de façon concrète qu’elle est prête à accroitre le montant des sommes allouées à la recherche et ainsi d’assumer son rôle de pionnière de l’innovation scientifique.
Les signataires de cet appel représentants des organisations constitutives de l’Advisory Board de la Plateforme du Parlement européen pour la laïcité en politique, en appellent donc aux institutions de l’Union européenne pour qu’elles garantissent un financement adéquat de la recherche sur les cellules souches, en ce compris la recherche sur les cellules souches embryonnaires humaines, dans le 8ème programme cadre pour la recherche et l’innovation « Horizon 2020 ».
Association Européenne pour la Pensée Libre (AEPL)
Catholics for Choice
Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir de Espana
Centre communautaire laïc juif (CCLJ)
Centre d’Action Laïque (CAL)
Fédération Humaniste Européenne (FHE)
Institut Maçonnique Européen
National Secular Society (NSS)
Réseau Européen Eglises et Libertés
Contact:
Julie Pernet – Fédération Humaniste Européenne (FHE)
Phone: +32 (0)2627 68 24
Email : julie.pernet@laicite.net

une Europe toujours plus sécularisée

Un texte de David Pollock,  président de la Fédération Humaniste Européenne

“All states in Europe are moving towards secularism” –

EHF President

1 March 2012

Speaking at a seminar in Brussels yesterday, EHF president David Pollock suggested that all states in Europe were progressing, from different starting points and at different speeds, towards secularism.

He was commenting on part of an EU-financed study on Identities and Modernities in Europe, a collaboration between several universities across Europe, part of which had looked at religion in schools in Bulgaria, Croatia, France and the United Kingdom – see here.

He said: “From the time of the Westphalian settlement, when states stopped trying to impose their religion on other states in the wars of religion and decided instead that cuius regio, eius religio*, governments have taken sides on what religion their citizens should follow and have only slowly come to concede individual liberty. . .  But no state has fully followed through the implications of individual freedom of religion or belief . . .

“Even so, European standards are, at least formally, secularist – in the sense of neutral as between different religions and beliefs. Defenders of church privilege try to depict a secular state as an atheist state. They are wrong, and sometimes cynically and consciously wrong.  A secular state, by not taking sides for or against religion or atheism, for or against one belief or another, is the best guarantor we have of freedom of religion or belief. Europe has espoused secularism, human rights and equality and non-discrimination . . .

“In this neutrality, this secularism, the European institutions reflect the views of the population. Europeans are increasingly alienated from religion and religious institutions. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in the EU’s own Eurobarometer surveys, carried out across Europe . . .

“So I believe that the contrasts brought out by today’s research are reflections less of fundamental differences between the four states studied than of the distance each has travelled towards secularism in its role as guarantor of freedom of religion or belief from their hugely different starting points. Thus their historical backgrounds, rather than any principled policy-making, has determined where each country stands on the treatment of religion in school.”

* “The religion of a state shall be that of its ruler.”

Un sujet brûlant : Jeanne d’Arc.

Nos amis français ne ratent que rarement une occasion de se couvrir de ridicule. Les gesticulations actuelles du personnel politique d’outre-Quiévrain ne font que renforcer cette impression.

Mais ce qui est encore moins rassurant ce sont les rappels – JT d’A2 de ce 6 janvier – des diverses récupérations de la Pucelle dont se sont rendus successivement responsables de Gaulle, Giscard et – mais doit-on s’en étonner – Mitterrand.

Sans adhérer à l’idée d’une pucelle qui n’aurait pas existé, on ne peut que s’étonner devant les manipulations auxquelles se livrent les politiques – depuis plusieurs siècles – pour mettre Jeanne au service de leurs intérêts.

Faut-il que la République ait besoin de se mentir à elle-même pour encenser ce personnage dont l’histoire – sinon l’existence – pose plus de questions qu’il ne fournit de réponses ? Faut-il que les intellectuels soient tombés bien bas pour qu’une discipline comme la critique historique soit reléguée aux oubliettes et subissent, en fin de compte, un sort moins enviable que celui de la bergère de Domrémy ?

 

Ne serions-nous pas en droit d’attendre un grand mouvement de protestation en réaction à cette avalanche de guimauve moyenâgeuse ? Ne serait-on pas en droit d’espérer que des profs d’université, des philosophes réagissent ? Ne devrait-on pas exiger le rappel de quelques grandes vérités ?

Lire la suite de ‘Un sujet brûlant : Jeanne d’Arc.’

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