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Report submitted by Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/39


          Economic and Social
          Fifty-sixth session
          Item 11(e) of the provisional agenda
          15 February 2000
          Original: ENGLISH!FRENCH
          Report submitted by Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur, in accordance
          with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/39
          Executive summary 3
          Introduction 1 - 2
          FifTY-FifTH SESSION
          3 - 106
          GE.00-11063 (E)
          page 2
          CONTENTS ( continued)
          Paragraphs Page
          A. Initiatives of the Commission 107 - 111 27
          B. Initiatives of the Special Rapporteur 112- 114 29
          III. IN SITU VISITS AND FOLLOW-UP 115- 116 29
          IV. VISIT TO THE HOLY SEE 117- 170 30
          A. Statistical data 118- 123 30
          B. Position with regard to international and
          national law in the area of religious freedom 124 -128 32
          C. Position in relation to States 129 - 134 33
          D. Position in relation to communities in the
          area of religion and belief 135 - 155 35
          E. Position in relation to women and the family 156 - 170 41
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 3
          Executive summary
          Since 1987, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission has been examining incidents and
          governmental action in all parts of the world inconsistent with the provisions of the Declaration
          on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief
          and has been recommending remedial measures for such situations. Since that date, a report has
          been submitted each year to the Commission on Human Rights and, since 1994, to the General
          The present report, which is submitted in accordance with Commission
          resolution 1999/39 of 26 April 1999, contains, firstly, a report on communications sent by the
          Special Rapporteur and replies received from States since the publication of the report submitted
          to the Commission at its fifty-fifth session; it covers 93 communications, including 2 urgent
          appeals, sent to 55 States, as well as 23 replies received from States. Secondly, the
          Special Rapporteur describes the follow-up to the Commission's initiatives concerning the
          World Conference against Racism and the resolution on defamation, as well as his own
          initiatives concerning studies, legislation and the culture of tolerance. He also deals with in situ
          visits and, in particular, with his visit to the Holy See in September 1999. The visit to the
          Vatican represents a new form of visit that supplements the “traditional” visits which have been
          made thus far and are intended to establish a direct dialogue with the main religions and beliefs
          on the 1981 Declaration and all matters relating to freedom of religion and belief and to provide
          solutions to problems of intolerance and discrimination that may arise in this regard. The
          Special Rapporteur's conclusions offer an analysis of violations of freedom of religion and belief
          in 1999 based on the identification of the main trends. Recommendations are then made in order
          to prevent the violations of the 1981 Declaration that have been found to exist.
          page 4
          1. At its forty-second session, the Commission on Human Rights decided, in
          resolution 1986/20 of 10 March 1986, to appoint for one year a special rapporteur to examine
          incidents and governmental action in all parts of the world inconsistent with the provisions of the
          Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on
          Religion or Belief and to recommend remedial measures for such situations.
          2. In accordance with that resolution, the Special Rapporteur has submitted 13 reports, some
          containing addenda, to the Commission on Human Rights since 1987. Since 1994, reports have
          also been submitted to the General Assembly (A150/440; A15 1/542; A152/477 and Add. 1;
          A153/279; A154/386). The present report is submitted in accordance with Commission on
          Human Rights resolution 1999/39 of 26 April 1999.
          3. This report relates to a total of 93 communications (including 2 urgent appeals to Iraq and
          the Islamic Republic of Iran) sent to 55 States: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan (3), Bangladesh (2),
          Belarus, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria (2), Cape Verde, China (4), Comoros (2),
          Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2), Djibouti,
          Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Finland, Gabon, Georgia (2), Greece (2), India (5), Indonesia (3),
          Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2), Iraq, Israel (4), Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic
          Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal (3), Niger,
          Nigeria, Pakistan (4), Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova (2), Russian Federation,
          Samoa, Saudi Arabia (2), Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic (2), Tajikistan,
          Turkmenistan (3), Uganda, Ukraine (2), United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan (3), Viet Nam (3),
          and Yemen (2).
          4. It also covers the replies of 23 States: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, China,
          Djibouti, Eritrea, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Nepal, Peru,
          Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan and
          Viet Nam.
          5. The Special Rapporteur has also noted in this report the replies received and the absence
          of replies to communications sent for the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on Human Rights.
          6. The Special Rapporteur wishes to point out that these communications do not cover all
          the incidents and governmental action in the world that are incompatible with the 1981
          Declaration. The fact that some States are covered in this report does not mean that other States
          are problem-free. It is also clear that the communications do not cover all religions and beliefs
          and that the frequency with which religions and beliefs are covered by communications does not
          necessarily reflect their general situation in the world (see also document A/54/386).
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 5
          7. The Taliban continue to apply a system of discrimination against women based on their
          own interpretation of Islam. Women are subjected to total segregation within society, such as
          exclusion from any employment and from educational institutions. Their status as second class
          citizens is said to be reflected in the following prohibitions: they are not allowed to drive; they
          are kept separate from men in buses; they have to be accompanied by a close male relative
          whenever they leave the home and whenever they visit a doctor; doctors are not allowed to touch
          women patients; they are required to wear the burga.
          Saudi Arabia
          8. The legislation, which is said to be based on religious norms, reportedly does not
          guarantee equality between men and women. Women are said to be discriminated against in the
          following ways: they are not allowed to drive a motor vehicle; they enter buses by an entrance
          separate from that for men and sit in a section different from that for men; they enjoy limited
          access to certain public facilities when men are present; they require the authorization of a close
          male relative for admission to hospital treatment and for travel abroad; they can study abroad
          only if they are accompanied by the spouse or an immediate male relative; when in public, they
          are required to observe the rules governing dress; in the Shariah courts, testimony by a man is
          said to be equivalent to the testimony of two women; in divorce cases, women have to show
          legally specified grounds, something which is reportedly not required of men.
          9. Saudi Arabia replied that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had affirmed its commitment to
          combat discrimination in all its forms by acceding to the International Convention on the
          Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The competent authorities are sparing no
          effort to ensure that women enjoy all their fundamental rights as provided for by law, such as the
          right to education, the right to work and the right to protection against poverty. The State is also
          protecting the freedoms of every person in accordance with the Islamic Shariah and related
          customs, to the extent that such freedoms are not contrary to public order and morals. Some
          traditional practices are based on national customs and are widely followed in society, even
          though they are not based on religious teachings. The Saudi Government is taking gradual
          educational measures to eliminate such practices, which might be equated with discrimination
          based on sex. Such measures are being taken in such a way as to ensure that there are no adverse
          effects on security, public order, public health and morals in general or on the fundamental rights
          and freedoms of other persons.
          10. In a second communication, the Special Rapporteur referred to the alleged arrest in
          May 1999 of a Filipino accused of preaching Christianity in Riyadh.
          11. The national legislation reportedly does not guarantee the right to conscientious objection
          on grounds of religious belief Azerbaijan replied that the State Military Commissioner had no
          case on record of citizens objecting to military service on religious grounds and that the
          Constitution and the legislation provided for alternative service for conscientious objectors.
          page 6
          12. Another communication sent by the Special Rapporteur alleged that the decree on the
          establishment and administration of alternative service had not been implemented and that, in
          1999, a Jehovah's Witness had reportedly been harassed by the police and the military
          authorities because he was trying to exercise his right to alternative service.
          13. In a second communication, the Special Rapporteur referred to allegations of the arrest of
          a Jehovah's Witness in the Khashmaz region, the confiscation of his works and video equipment
          and his sentencing by the Regional People's Court to 15 days' administrative detention because
          of his conversion. After his release, he was threatened with deportation by the regional bureau
          chief of the Ministry of National Security if he did not give up his belief
          14. A third communication alleged that there was intolerance and discrimination against
          Jehovah's Witnesses following a hate campaign by some media and law enforcement officials.
          In August 1999, a local television station, helped by a security official of the regional office of
          the Ministry of National Security reportedly broadcast a programme stating, inter alia , that the
          Jehovah's Witnesses paid money for any conversion of Muslims to their faith. That programme
          was also allegedly used by the director of a company against his Jehovah's Witness employees in
          order to dismiss them if they would not give up their faith.
          15. It is alleged that, on her return to Bangladesh to be with her sick mother, there were
          renewed calls for the murder of the writer Taslima Nasreen by Muslim extremists, who accused
          her of blasphemy. The prosecution of the writer under article 295 of the Penal Code “for having
          deliberately and maliciously outraged the religious sentiments of a class of citizens” is said to
          have been resumed; likewise, an order for her arrest and the confiscation of her property is said
          to have been issued. Despite legislation that guarantees freedom of religion and its
          manifestations, in fact foreign missionaries reportedly have to limit their religious activities,
          particularly those addressed to Muslims. Where women are concerned, the Muslim Family
          Ordinance reportedly places them in a disadvantageous position in respect of divorce. In
          addition, despite the existence of legislation protecting women against arbitrary action in the
          event of divorce, these provisions reportedly do not cover unregistered traditional marriages in
          rural areas. In December 1998, a decision by the Supreme Court overruling a verdict which
          recognized the right of a divorced Muslim wife to alimony from her former husband until she
          remarried or died is said to have resulted in the restoration of a law limiting the payment of
          alimony to only three months.
          16. A 1995 directive by the Cabinet of Ministers reportedly restricts the religious activities of
          foreign missionaries exclusively to institutions which invited them. Unregistered religious
          organizations are said not to be authorized to invite foreign religious personnel. Moreover, local
          authorities reportedly refused requests by Seventh Day Adventists to rent public buildings for
          religious purposes, which, it is said, poses a problem, in that, in many places, no private place of
          worship is said to be available to them.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 7
          17. Belarus replied that, in its decision No. 280 of 23 February 1999, the Cabinet of
          Ministers confirmed the regulation relating to the invitation of foreign religious representatives
          to Belarus and their activity in the national territory. The regulation enables religious
          organizations and centres to invite foreign representatives, who are entitled to exercise their
          ministry and other religious activity. It was specified that religious organizations without legal
          recognition could not invite foreign religious representatives or conclude contracts, but there
          were few organizations of that kind: 68 out of 2,638 religious organizations in Belarus. Of those
          68 organizations, 31 are evangelical Baptist communities, which do not register their statutes for
          religious reasons. Some organizations (Protestant and “Old Believer” communities), of which
          there are very few, do not need legal recognition and therefore do not register their statutes.
          With regard to the 43 Seventh Day Adventist communities, 30 have their own place of worship
          and 13 organize prayer meetings in their members' homes. It was stated that no refusal to rent
          public buildings for religious purposes had been reported in relation to that community.
          18. The right to conscientious objection on grounds of religious belief is reportedly not
          recognized in law and it seems that there is no provision for any alternative form of service.
          Brunei Darussalam
          19. By reason of legislation apparently based on religious norms, women are reportedly
          victims of discrimination in many areas, including divorce, custody of children and transmission
          of citizenship. The Nationality Act is said to provide for transmission of citizenship solely by
          the father. Consequently, a Brunei Darussalam woman married to a foreigner would be unable
          to transmit her citizenship to her children even if they were born in Brunei Darussalam.
          20. In December 1998, a Jehovah's Witness was allegedly imprisoned, in accordance with a
          judicial decision upheld by the Court of Cassation, because of his conscientious objection to
          military service. This sentence seems to be inconsistent with both the Constitution, which
          guarantees the right to perform alternative service, and a law on alternative service that was
          adopted in October 1998 and entered into force on 1 January 1999.
          21. Bulgaria confirmed the sentences and the detention of the Jehovah's Witness in question,
          but stated that this person had been pardoned by the Vice-President of the Republic and released
          on 8 March 1999. The Special Rapporteur thanks Bulgaria for its prompt response and, while
          warmly welcoming the pardon, wishes to know whether this measure, which does not solve the
          problem of principle, was motivated by the apparent inconsistency of the detention with the
          Constitution and the new legislation on alternative service.
          22. According to a second communication, since 1998, the Ministry of Education has
          reportedly introduced an optional course on religions into the secondary school curriculum. It is
          alleged that this course, designed to reflect all religions, in fact pays more attention in the
          textbooks to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Muslim community is said to have
          complained of the inadequate treatment accorded to Islam in the course and its textbooks.
          page 8
          Cape Verde
          23. In July 1998, three Seventh Day Adventists were reportedly arrested after being accused
          by the police of setting fire to and stealing from Catholic churches. Despite the apparent lack of
          evidence, two of the accused are said to be still in detention and the third to have been released
          pending a trial that has been postponed several times.
          24. In a detailed reply, Cape Verde explained that there had been a wave of desecrations of
          Catholic places of worship since 1990, that two persons had been identified as a result of
          in-depth investigations and that, in judicial proceedings, the suspects had been released pending
          a decision by the Appeal Court. It was stated that the religion of the accused persons had never
          been raised as an issue in that case, even by the persons concerned. It was concluded that
          Cape Verde was characterized by its culture and tradition of tolerance and religious freedom, as
          reflected in its legislation.
          25. It is alleged that, in October and November 1998 and January 1999, in Henan province,
          the security services arrested members of Protestant congregations not recognized by the
          26. China replied that the 1998 October meeting had been illegal and had seriously disrupted
          normal production and living conditions for the local population. It was explained that, under
          article 19 of the Public Security and Administrative Offences Regulations, the local public
          security authorities had arrested three persons and detained them for 15 days, while eight other
          persons who had taken part in the gathering had not been subjected to any coercive measures.
          With regard to the November 1998 gathering, China stated that an illegal gathering of over
          120 persons had been organized by five aliens, who had been cautioned by the local public
          security authorities in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Religious Activities of
          Foreign Nationals in China. No coercive measures were taken against the Chinese participants
          in the gathering. The allegations of ill-treatment had been rejected by the authorities. In
          connection with the January 1999 arrests, the authorities expressed the opinion that the lack of
          detail in the communication made it impossible to conduct an investigation. China also recalled
          that its legislation guaranteed freedom of religion and that all penalties were based not on
          religious belief, but on offences against the rules on maintaining public security, disrupting
          public order and adversely affecting other persons' lives.
          27. According to other communications, in January 1999, the Tibetan Communist Party
          Propaganda in Lhasa reportedly launched a three-year campaign to promote atheism in order to
          undermine the influence of Buddhism and the Dalai Lama. In Beijing, in April 1999, over
          10,000 members of the Falun Gong movement are said to have demonstrated in protest against
          the arrest of a number of their fellow members who opposed the ban on their leader's writings.
          The activities of Falun Gong are also reportedly banned in a number of towns in the north east.
          In July 1999, the police reportedly organized a series of raids in at least 17 cities against
          members of Falun Gong, destroyed statues of the community's founder and carried out arrests.
          In May 1999, in the province of Hebei, the authorities allegedly organized a campaign to
          suppress underground Catholic organizations. A priest celebrating mass in a private home was
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 9
          allegedly arrested by security forces and then found dead, while a seminary student was
          reportedly arrested. In August 1999, in the province of Henan, security forces allegedly arrested
          more than 30 leaders of Protestant organizations not recognized by the authorities.
          28. According to various sources, the policy of intolerance and religious discrimination
          in the territories under the control of the Turkish army is continuing. The church of
          Panayia Chriseleousa in Katopia village is said to have been converted into a mosque, while the
          oldest church in the village has reportedly been stripped of its contents. The church of
          Saint Afxentios in Komi Kepir village has also reportedly been subjected to acts of vandalism,
          including the theft of frescoes.
          29. The right to conscientious objection on religious grounds is allegedly not recognized by
          law. The religious activities of Christians are said to be restricted when they are addressed to
          Côte d'Ivoire
          30. Muslims are reportedly discriminated against in the allocation of community radio
          stations. Whereas the Catholic community is said to have received official approval for four
          radio stations, the Muslims have allegedly been deprived of them in that the authorities made it a
          condition that all the Muslim associations should agree to share a single radio frequency. An
          agreement of this kind within the Muslim community, which has a wealth of diverse
          associations, but cannot be likened to a single, hierarchized church represented by a single
          official, is reportedly not possible. This situation, it is argued, prevents the establishment of
          Muslim radio stations. In November 1998, 60 Seventh Day Adventists were reportedly driven
          from their village by members of an ethnic group of the Harris faith.
          31. The religious activities of non-Christians are reportedly confined to the private sphere by
          reason of the ban on public preaching, particularly among Muslims. The legislation
          guaranteeing the same rights to women and to men is said to be affected by religious traditions
          attributed to Islam. Authorization by a man is reportedly necessary for a woman wishing to
          travel abroad.
          32. Djibouti rejected these allegations, stating that it is known as one of the most, if not the
          most, tolerant of all the Islamic States. A number of important sites in the capital are
          non-Muslim religious buildings in which believers can practise their faith freely. Djibouti, it
          said, is characterized by the practice of tolerance and religious freedom.
          United Arab Emirates
          33. Christians are reportedly unable to undertake religious activities among Muslims.
          page 10
          34. The right to conscientious objection on grounds of religious belief appears not to be
          recognized in law. Eritrea explained that, under its legislation, military service is compulsory for
          a period of 18 months, consisting of 6 months of military training and 12 months of civic
          activities. It stated that no exemption was provided, except in the case of persons who had
          fought in the national liberation war. The Special Rapporteur's comments on the
          Republic of Korea are also relevant with respect to Eritrea.
          Russian Federation
          35. It is reported that, since 1996, the Moscow Northern Administrative Circuit Prosecutor
          has brought charges on five occasions against the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in the
          capital. The first four cases were abandoned for lack of evidence. In September 1998, new
          charges were brought under the 1997 Act on Freedom of Conscience and Religious
          Organizations in respect of the proselytizing activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which were
          deemed illegal on the grounds that they foster religious discord and are a threat to Russian family
          life. If this prosecution was successful, the registration of the Jehovah's Witnesses would be
          revoked and their congregation would be banned in Moscow. The country was reportedly hit by
          a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in 1999, particularly in the form of the desecration of tombs and
          attacks on a synagogue and a Jewish leader. These incidents were condemned by
          President Yeltsin.
          36. The Russian Federation replied that, in 1998, the Russian judicial authorities
          registered 44 new local Jehovah's Witnesses organizations and renewed the registration
          authorizing 19 organizations. The leadership of the movement in Russia was registered with the
          Ministry of Justice on 27 March 1991 and the registration was renewed on 29 April 1999. It was
          stated that no act of discrimination on religious grounds committed by law enforcement or other
          executive agencies against Jehovah's Witnesses had been reported in recent years. With regard
          to civil proceedings against the Moscow Jehovah's Witnesses community, it was explained that
          the court was considering a request by the Moscow Northern Administrative Circuit Prosecutor
          for the dissolution of the community as a result of an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office
          which revealed major incompatibilities between statutes of the Jehovah's Witnesses community
          as registered and its day-to-day activities, as well as many complaints by private individuals,
          especially parents whose children had been victims of action by the Jehovah's Witnesses
          (incitement to racial hatred, suicide and refusal to accept medical care, forced destruction of the
          family, etc.). It was hardly appropriate to draw conclusions about any persecution or the
          dissolution of the Moscow Jehovah's Witnesses community because proceedings were under
          way which guaranteed the rights of the defence and the investigation of the case had been
          suspended when the court had ordered a complex evaluation of its religious, psychological and
          linguistic aspects. The community continued to carry out its activities in the capital.
          37. The authorities were also of the opinion that a more in-depth analysis of the
          implementation of the new Act on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations would
          show that its application had not led to violations of the rights of citizens or the principle of the
          equality of religious congregations before the law. In that connection, it was stated that, on
          1 January 1999, the Ministry of Justice and its territorial offices had registered 16,749 religious
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 11
          organizations belonging to more than 60 persuasions. Since the adoption of the law in question,
          1,170 religious organizations belonging, inter alia , to the Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist,
          Pentecostal, Adventist and Methodist churches, had been registered or had had their registration
          renewed. The communities which received official authorization include the Neo-Apostolic
          Church, the Mormons, the disciples of Vishnu (Krishna) and the followers of the Baha'i faith.
          In 1998, the Government's Commission on Religious Associations concluded that the
          above-mentioned Act was being implemented normally and that the religious situation was
          38. The duration of alternative service for conscientious objectors gives the appearance of
          being punitive. In a very detailed reply, Finland recalled, inter alia , that conscientious objection
          was legally recognized in 1931 and that requests for conscientious objector status are approved
          without any inquiry. As to the amendments to the Military Service Act (in 1998) and the
          Civilian Service Act (in 1999) and following the reductions in the duration of certain forms of
          military service, it was explained that Parliament had decided to maintain the duration of
          non-military service. The duration of that civilian service had been discussed in Finland.
          “Military service has been estimated to be more straining both physically and psychologically,
          the actual daily/weekly time of duty is longer, there are fewer financial benefits and freedom of
          movement and other aspects of personal freedom are more restricted. Furthermore, persons who
          complete military service are under an obligation to do refresher training later. There is no
          equivalent to this for persons performing civilian service. Due to the different nature of the types
          of service, comparing is difficult. Finland will follow closely the functioning of the current
          system.” Finland also took the initiative of indicating its position on the application of the
          1981 Declaration in the area of education. The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the
          Government for its detailed, closely argued and balanced response and for the extremely useful
          information relating to education.
          39. Notwithstanding a satisfactory situation in the area of freedom of religion and belief, the
          community of Jehovah's Witnesses is reportedly subject to a government ban which is not
          applied de facto, but is formally maintained, weakening the community in the long term. Where
          women are concerned, some legislation, influenced by traditional beliefs, is said to be
          discriminatory, in particular the requirement for a woman wishing to travel abroad to obtain her
          husband's permission.
          40. The 1997 Alternative Service Act was apparently never applied or accompanied by the
          mechanisms required for its implementation. The duration of the service established by law was
          punitive in character. It was reported that the procedure for the restitution of religious property
          confiscated during the Soviet era continued to be fraught with serious difficulties; it did not
          apply to the Armenian and Catholic churches. It was reported that a famous Armenian church in
          Tbilisi is still closed. Despite a court decision calling for the restitution of a synagogue to the
          Jewish community, the building was allegedly still being used as a theatre by the occupants.
          page 12
          Under pressure from the Georgian Orthodox Church, the authorities were making it difficult to
          secure a permit to build places of worship for the Protestant and Armenian orthodox
          41. Georgia replied that its Constitution and Penal Code guaranteed freedom of religion and
          belief and the Government had taken positive measures in the area of human rights. No cases of
          torture or arbitrary arrest on grounds of religion and belief had been reported and the authorities
          were doing their best to guarantee the right to manifest one's religion and belief (meetings and
          places of worship). It was pointed out that the educational system provided an understanding of
          tolerance and respect for freedom of religion and belief, specifically through the study of human
          rights, debates and lectures. There had been incidents in some parts of the country, but the
          problem had been cleared up. With regard to the restitution of a synagogue, the Government
          explained that the occupants were demanding payment for their repair work, alleging that it was
          a religious study centre, that the building had been rented to a theatre company and not to the
          State and that the two existing Thilisi synagogues were sufficient to accommodate the religious
          rites of the Jewish community. It stated that the Catholic and Armenian churches had not
          claimed restitution of their property in a court of law. It pointed out that they had no claims
          against the Orthodox Church and that there was nothing to impede fulfilment of their request to
          build new churches, provided that it was in keeping with the law. Lastly, it indicated that a place
          of worship had been allocated to the Catholic Church in Tbilisi.
          42. It is alleged that the municipality of Galatsi, a number of its residents and the officially
          recognized Greek Orthodox Church are attempting to take possession of the Church of
          Saint Savas in Panorama Galatsiou region, which belongs to the Old Calendarist Orthodox
          Church, despite ajudgement in the latter's favour. Furthermore, members of the Old Calendarist
          Orthodox Church are said to have been arrested and charged with disturbing a religious
          gathering of persons who were in fact using their church illegally.
          43. Greece replied: “On examination of the case of the property of the Church of Saint Savas
          in the Panorama Galatsiou region, contested by the Orthodox Church and the Old Calendarists,
          the competent Greek authorities have concluded that what seems like an act of religious
          extremism in the information received by the Special Rapporteur is in reality a civil law
          controversy, upon which the competent Courts of Justice have undertaken and, as acts liable to
          punishment have taken place meanwhile, the case is pending before justice”.
          44. According to a second communication, the Kassandra municipality in Halkidiki, with the
          assistance of the Greek Orthodox Church, allegedly objected, through a campaign of hostility
          among the population, to the construction of a lecture hall by the Jehovah's Witnesses, despite a
          favourable decision by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 13
          45. Violence against Christians, notably in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Punjab and
          Maharashtra states, is reportedly continuing in the form of attacks on places of worship,
          property, churchgoers and clergy. This situation remains unchanged despite the assurances of
          the country's highest authorities.
          46. India made a request for more detailed information on these incidents that was dealt with
          in a second communication. The Christian community is reportedly still feeling uneasy, not as a
          result of isolated incidents, but of the resurgence of Hindu militancy and the Hindu attitude
          towards minorities. In order to broaden their electoral base and thus their impact on the
          population, militant Hindu groups are deliberately attacking the Christian minority and its
          institutions in the education, health and social sectors because of their influence on the Indians,
          especially those who are the most disadvantaged or living in remote areas of the country. Those
          Hindu groups are allegedly using illegal methods and accusing the Christians of trying to convert
          India to their beliefs. It is further alleged that they are conducting a hate campaign against
          Christians through the media, pamphlets and posters. The campaign is allegedly being financed
          by Hindu organizations abroad. Apparently, the authorities have not taken any specific measures
          to remedy the situation. The chief perpetrators of the murder of Pastor Graham Staines and the
          rape of nuns (see A154/386, para. 89) reportedly have not been arrested and, shielded by that
          situation of impunity, there have been continuing attacks on Christians, such as the rape of two
          girls, the abduction of another and the desecration of a place of worship. The women and girls
          of the community seem to have become the chief targets of the militant Hindus. Women are
          reportedly especially affected by discriminatory acts based on religion or religious traditions.
          The “personal status” laws classify women as inferior. The “status laws” that apply to Muslims
          apparently entitle men to unilateral divorce if they so desire, but not women. The “status laws”
          that apply to Christians entitle men to seek divorce on grounds of adultery, whereas women have
          to show proof of special abuse and claim redress under certain categories of adultery only.
          Among Hindu women, although sati and the dowry are prohibited under customary law, these
          traditions are apparently not totally eradicated in some rural areas.
          47. A third communication referred to allegations of acts of vandalism in Mumbai in
          June 1999 by members of Shiv Sena against Sacred Heart School, apparently in order to disrupt
          Christian activities on behalf of children. A fourth communication alleged that a hate campaign
          against Christians was still going on, primarily against missionaries and church institutions by
          means of pamphlets and posters distributed in large quantities in towns. The campaign was
          allegedly not being stopped by the authorities. A fifth communication drew attention to the
          murder of a Catholic priest on 2 September 1999 by Hindu militants while he was allegedly
          ministering to a gathering of Christian converts in the village of Jambani in Orissa's Mayurbhanj
          district. It also reported an attack on 8 October 1999 in the state of Gujarat by Hindu militants
          against Christian leaders from the Filadelfia Fellowship Church of India. The local police
          reportedly arrested nine Christians and then released them on bail, while maintaining charges of
          converting Hindus and involvement in anti-national activities.
          * The former Hindu practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
          page 14
          48. India stated that the reply provided in the last report to the General Assembly
          (A154/386, para. 89) was also valid in the case of some of the general points made in the
          allegations and in the case of the rape of nuns. With regard to the Graham Staines case, it was
          stressed that the authorities had taken measures, namely, the establishment of a commission of
          inquiry and inquiries by the National Human Rights Commission; since the commission of
          inquiry had submitted its report, the Government had undertaken to adopt the appropriate
          measures. The measures taken by the Government to promote communal harmony and
          safeguard the interests of minorities include: guidelines to the States for promotion of communal
          harmony; assistance to the States in the form of sharing of intelligence, sending advisories and
          deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces for the maintenance of law and order; a Rapid Action
          Force exclusively for curbing communal violence; request to the States to constitute National
          Integration Committees at the State and District levels; Religious institutions (Prevention of
          Misuse) Act, 1998 and the Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act enacted by the Central
          Government; financial assistance to voluntary organizations and NGOs for discouraging
          communal ill-will and for mobilizing people in the cause of communal harmony; a Minority Cell
          set up in 1996 to look into the incidents of atrocities against minorities; a National Commission
          of Minorities set up to look into the interests of minorities; a National Foundation for Communal
          Harmony set up to provide assistance for the rehabilitation of victims of communal riots;
          institution of two Communal Harmony Awards and the “Kabir Puraskar” award to honour
          individuals who display conspicuous acts of moral courage in saving the lives of persons of
          another community during communal riots.
          49. It is reported that, in December 1998 in Jakarta at the beginning of Ramadan,
          approximately 1,000 Muslims attacked Catholic and Protestant places of worship, as well as a
          Catholic school. It seems that these incidents were finally halted by the police and the army. In
          November 1998, sectarian clashes allegedly resulted in the deaths of 13 Christians and the
          destruction of churches and mosques. These events are said to have occurred in part because of
          religious extremism affecting the Muslim and Christian communities.
          50. In Minangkabau in March 1998, a Muslim girl allegedly expressed the wish to convert to
          Christianity following a meeting with Christians. For fear of being punished by her family, she
          reportedly moved to Malang, East Java, where she allegedly continued her education and then
          returned to her family in August 1998. In June 1999, however, a Christian living in
          Minangkabau was arrested and accused of kidnapping and raping the girl. After a media
          campaign against Christians living in Minangkabau, the man was allegedly accused of forced
          conversion and blasphemy and the accusations were reportedly extended to all Christians.
          Groups are said to have intimidated Christians, while the authorities allegedly arrested Christian
          leaders in July 1999. In Jakarta, moreover, Muslim organizations allegedly brought a libel suit
          against ajournalist who had written an article on the riots against women and girls belonging to
          the Chinese community in May 1999. A police summons was then issued against the reporter,
          who is said to face a penalty of five years' imprisonment.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 15
          Iran (Islamic Republic of )
          51. There was an urgent appeal about the arrest of 13 members of the Jewish community,
          including rabbis and religious teachers, in the cities of Shiraz and Ispahan. They were reportedly
          accused of spying for Israel and the United States, whereas the real reason they were arrested
          was that they were Jewish.
          52. The Islamic Republic of Iran replied that the suspects arrested for spying included both
          Christians and Muslims and that the investigation and the arrest had taken place without regard
          for their religious beliefs and were instead a matter of safeguarding national security. A
          communiqué from the Jewish community was also transmitted stating that, like every other
          religious minority, that community was well treated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and enjoyed
          the constitutional rights of citizenship and that the arrests and charges against certain Iranian
          Jews had nothing to do with their religion. Foreign press releases were also transmitted.
          53. A second communication referred to allegations that the main organizer of the murders of
          Pastors T. Michaelian, M. Dibaj and H. Hovsepian (see the mission report on Iran,
          E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2, paras. 79 to 85, and document E/CN.4/1995/91, paras. 63 to 65) was
          Said Emami, who reportedly worked for eight years in a high-level post in the Ministry of
          Security. This information was allegedly publicly disclosed by the Iranian press and by
          members of Parliament so that an investigation would be conducted.
          54. The urgent appeal sent to Iraq concerned the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad
          Sadeck al-Sadr and his two sons and the subsequent demonstrations by Shiites in the suburbs of
          Baghdad and in Kerbala and Nassiriya. This appeal also drew attention to allegations of
          repression by the armed forces (25 persons assassinated and 250 injured in Baghdad).
          55. The Government of Iraq replied that it was committed to guaranteeing the freedom of its
          various communities and religions and the security of their national and religious symbols, in
          accordance with the rights and guarantees of the Constitution and national legislation. The
          guarantee of the security of all Iraqi citizens was the responsibility of the State and its people.
          The murder of Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeck al-Sadr was a great loss for Iraq, since he had been
          a great imam and an authority on Islam, devoted to education, prayer, national unity and the fight
          against forces hostile to Iraq. In particular, he had called for ajihad against the imperialist forces
          that were oppressing the Iraqi people by means of an economic blockade and air strikes. It was
          stated that those making accusations against Iraq without waiting for the results of the
          investigation under way were the same persons who had accused the Iraqi Government of
          imposing Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeck al-Sadr as a religious leader. Iraq asked how its
          Government can be accused of the murder of this dignitary when he had condemned the allies of
          the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
          who, styling themselves the “Iraqi opposition”, were seeking the financial support of the
          American Administration for the purpose of sowing discord in Iraq. The United States and its
          allies should be the subject of the accusations. The allegations of demonstrations and arrests
          were disputed. It was stated that Arab and foreign news services that had visited the areas
          concerned had reported that the situation was calm and normal. The results of the investigation
          under way would be communicated. The Special Rapporteur awaits them with interest.
          page 16
          56. Ultra-orthodox Jews are said to be creating a climate of intolerance in Israel. In
          November 1998, in Kiryat Malachi, an American couple engaged in humanitarian work with
          Ethiopian immigrants was allegedly attacked by young ultra-orthodox Jews who suspected them
          of proselytizing. In the town of Beersheba, 1,000 ultra-orthodox Jews ( haredim) , acting on a
          rumour spread in the synagogues alleging that the Messianic Jews intended to baptize Jewish
          children, are reported to have laid siege to the place of worship rented by the Messianic Jews.
          The police apparently guarded the building in order to maintain order, but subsequently told the
          leaders of the congregation that they must protect the area themselves. A chief rabbi from
          Beersheba spoke on television and in the newspapers of his opposition to the Messianic group
          and its activities. It would seem that this person is in fact the brother of a member of the Knesset
          who supported a draft law banning religious conversion (E/CN.4/1998/6). In Mea Shearim,
          ultra-orthodox Jews allegedly attacked the residence of three Swiss Christians, whom they
          accused of proselytizing. Despite the absence of any reply by Israel, the Special Rapporteur
          wishes to recall the responsibility of the State in the fight against intolerance and discrimination,
          in this instance, in respect of freedom of religion.
          57. The Israeli Government and the military administrations are said to be pursuing a policy
          aimed at forcing the Christian communities out of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Christians of
          East Jerusalem are allegedly being stripped of their right of residence by having their identity
          cards confiscated and very few drivers' licences issued to them, the purpose being to raise the
          prices of housing and encourage the building of illegal housing which could then be demolished.
          All the Christian communities of Jerusalem are reportedly losing members as a result of the
          policies and practices described above. Women sometimes suffer discrimination in matters of
          divorce. Rabbinical courts deliberately give preference to men, for example, by allowing a
          husband to remarry notwithstanding his wife's dissent or by not penalizing a husband who
          refuses to consent to a divorce despite the sound and well-founded reasons given by the wife.
          Similarly, some Islamic courts reportedly deny any request for divorce from a wife, but grant it
          to any man notwithstanding his wife's dissent.
          58. Israel replied as follows to the communication on women: “Israel recognizes the
          jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts over all Jewish citizens and residents in matters of personal
          status. In this context, the rabbinical courts are given exclusive jurisdiction in cases of marriage
          and divorce. The same applies, mutatis mutandis , to the other recognized religious communities
          in Israel, in which the respective religious courts apply their own religious laws to members of
          their communities in matters of ‘personal status'. In principle, therefore, civil courts do not
          interfere in these cases. However, Israeli legislators are seeking creative ways to adjust the
          implementation of religious law to the dynamic reality in Israel, where democratic human rights
          and religious values are basic tenets of the State. As a preliminary comment, it must be noted
          that preserving religious law in Israel, particularly in matters of family and divorce, is considered
          to be an important component of Israeli law. Consequently upon acceding to the International
          Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as to the Convention on the Elimination of All
          Forms of Discrimination against Women, Israel entered a reservation explaining that in Israel,
          matters of personal status are governed by the applicable religious law of the parties concerned,
          and to the extent that such law is incompatible with its obligations under these conventions,
          Israel reserves the right to apply that law. In principle, Israeli law applies equally to men and
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 17
          women in matters of divorce. Both are required to obtain their spouse's consent in order for the
          divorce to become valid. According to the Jewish religious law (the Halacha), two forms of
          divorce exist: the first is obtained by both spouses' consent, while the other is a divorce imposed
          by a ruling of the religious court and requires the husband or the wife to grant the divorce. Such
          a ruling may be granted once a cause of action specified in the Halacha is shown to exist. Such
          causes of action include: adultery, refusal to engage in conjugal relations and, in certain cases,
          where the couple is incapable of having children. However, even where the rabbinical court
          rules in favour of granting a divorce, the marriage is not dissolved simply by the court's order.
          There remains the requirement of the spouse's symbolic action of granting the divorce under the
          supervision of the court. Difficulties in the divorce process can arise at this stage in cases where
          a spouse, usually the husband, refuses or is unable (due to legal incompetence or disappearance)
          to grant the divorce. In order to overcome these difficulties, legislation has been adopted which
          aims to ensure the enforcement of the rabbinical court's divorce rulings. Thus,
          the 1995 Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction Law (enforcement of divorce rulings) enables the district
          rabbinical courts to impose severe civil sanctions on men or women who refuse to grant a
          divorce in contempt of the court's ruling. Such sanctions include, inter alia , cancellation of
          driver's licences, limitations on exit from the country and even jail. However, in order to impose
          any sanction on a wife who refuses to grant a divorce, the law requires the preliminary approval
          of the President of the Supreme Rabbinical Court. Statistics clearly show that rabbinical courts
          do not hesitate to apply sanctions pursuant to the 1995 law mentioned above, whenever possible.
          In 1996, these sanctions were applied in 50 cases. Such sanctions were applied in 106 cases
          in 1997 and in 163 cases in 1998. Furthermore, two husbands who refuse to grant a divorce to
          their wives are currently in prison due to their refusal. With regard to the assertion set forth in
          your letter concerning the hardships encountered by Muslim women in cases of divorce, it
          should be noted that the Shari'a Courts have exclusive jurisdiction in this matter over all
          Muslims, with modifications deriving from Israeli legislation in specific matters. Generally,
          mutual consent to divorce is required for the divorce to become valid. In cases where mutual
          consent to divorce cannot be obtained and the matter reaches the court, Shari'a calls for the
          appointment of an arbitrator on behalf of each of the spouses, who in turn seeks ways for
          reconciliation. If the reconciliation process is unsuccessful then, subject to the judge's ( Ouadi )
          approval, the divorce comes into effect.”
          59. In another communication, the Special Rapporteur referred to allegations of serious cases
          of intolerance on the part of a Muslim family against the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem in
          connection with its religious activities at its Mount of Olives property. The family reportedly
          stoned Armenian faithful during celebrations of Ascension and the Divine Liturgy, seriously
          damaged the Patriarchate's property and even threatened, including with death, Armenian
          leaders in order to take possession of Armenian religious property. The Muslim family was in
          fact allegedly trying to declare the Armenian property as a mosque. During these incidents, the
          Armenian Patriarchate reportedly tried unsuccessfully to settle these problems with the Muslim
          family. The Israeli police were allegedly kept informed, but apparently did not take the
          necessary security measures.
          60. In addition to a media campaign spreading a message on the supremacy of traditional
          religions and calling for bans on other communities, the authorities were allegedly targeting
          page 18
          these groups (such as the Charismatic Evangelical Church of Christ and Jehovah's Witnesses)
          through the harassment of their members and/or the denial of registration. Two women lecturers
          at the University of Taraz were reportedly moved to lower positions because they had converted
          from Islam to Christianity and because their beliefs were regarded as not being in keeping with
          the State ideology; they were allegedly warned that their contracts would not be renewed. A
          draft bill by the Ministry of Culture, Information and Social Affairs was said to be designed to
          strengthen State control over the activities of non-traditional religious associations: one
          provision prohibited independent publications and proselytizing activities by foreign religious
          organizations. A variety of grounds for a court to suspend the activities of religious associations
          was also proposed. The wording, i.e. “to cause harm ... to the morals and the health of citizens”,
          “coercion leading to the destruction of the family”, was, however, said to be vague.
          61. Despite some progress with regard to women's rights, women were said to be adversely
          affected by certain laws based on religious criteria. They reportedly suffered discrimination in
          the following respects: the consent of the husband was compulsory if the wife sought to obtain a
          passport; marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men was prohibited; and, in the
          Islamic courts, the testimony of one man was equivalent to that of two women.
          62. Kuwait replied: “The competent Kuwaiti authorities first wish to stress that Kuwaiti
          society, whose foundations are built on justice and equality, firmly rejects all forms of
          discrimination and segregation and does not discriminate between men and women, who enjoy
          the same rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Article 7 of the Constitution
          makes the principle of equality one of the basic foundations of Kuwaiti society, article 29
          provides that all men are equal in dignity and the preamble makes equality one of the basic
          pillars of Kuwaiti society. With regard to allegations that provisions of the legislation of the
          State of Kuwait involve discrimination against women, namely, that the testimony of one man is
          equivalent to that of two women, and that marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim
          men is prohibited, the Kuwaiti authorities wish to state that these precepts are based on the
          provisions of the noble Islamic Sharia, which is one of the main sources of legislation. Thus,
          article 2 of the Kuwaiti Constitution provides that: ‘The State religion is Islam and the Sharia
          one of the main sources of legislation'. Kuwait is guided by the Sharia and draws inspiration
          from its provisions in the laws it enacts in all areas relating to the rights and duties of the
          members of the Muslim community, as is the case in all Islamic States. With regard to the fact
          that the testimony of one man is equivalent of that of two women, this principle is applicable not
          in all cases, but in certain specific situations provided for in Islamic legislation, which does not
          make any distinction between the testimony of a man and that of a woman in civil, commercial
          and criminal law matters. The prohibition on marriage between Muslim women and
          non-Muslim men reflects the wisdom of Islamic legislation, based on the fact that men are the
          guardians of women and their offspring and taking account of the details given in the texts of the
          ikth (Islamic writings). The requirement that women have to have their husbands' consent to
          obtain a passport confirms the need to protect the family and safeguard its structures in
          accordance with the provisions of the Sharia.”
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 19
          63. Christians are allegedly subjected to restrictions on all religious activities vis-à-vis
          Muslims. Despite progress in the legislation governing property and divorce, non-Muslim
          women reportedly suffer discrimination under the “personal status” laws.
          64. Protestants are reportedly forbidden to practise their religion in public because the
          conversion of Muslims to another religion is allegedly prohibited. The conversion of Muslims is
          said to be punishable by loss of citizenship.
          65. Protestants are said to be subjected to restrictions on all religious activities vis-à-vis
          66. In June 1999, in Chiapas, traditional rural leaders reportedly destroyed Protestant
          temples, while Protestant families were allegedly detained arbitrarily and threatened with
          67. Despite the progress made by the Government, the restitution of property confiscated
          from the Catholic Church and the Muslim community in 1975 following the attainment of
          independence has not been completed.
          68. The authorities are reportedly pursuing their policy of intolerance and discrimination
          against minorities: Muslims in the states of Arakan and Karen and Christians in the states of
          Chin and Karen. In January 1999, the activities undertaken by the Christian community of Chin
          to commemorate the centenary of Christianity were allegedly opposed by the military by various
          means, such as prohibiting the erection of a cross on Vuichip mountain, arrests of clergy and the
          refusal to grant visas to foreign guests. Myanmar's reply is still awaited.
          69. It is alleged that, in November 1998, in Rukum, the police executed two Christian leaders
          of the Taka Church, whom they suspected of belonging to the Maoist organization waging a civil
          war in remote areas of Nepal. It would appear that the Christian community is in fact subjected
          to pressure by Maoists hostile to their religious practices, by the police, who execute Christians
          suspected of being Maoists, and by Hindu militants of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who target
          page 20
          70. Nepal replied as follows: “On 20 November 1998, when some terrorists came to attack
          the police post in Takssera of Rukum District, the police security personnel present in the police
          post tried to stop them by counselling and advising. But without listening to their advice, these
          terrorists in return started to advance to attack the police security personnel. The police security
          personnel then warned them and tried to stop them. But when these terrorists without heeding
          these warnings advanced towards the police post to wage armed attack, the police security
          personnel were compelled to open fire. Mr. Gopal Buda, Ward N.3, Takssera Village
          Development Committee of Rukum and Mr. Sukhram, Ward N.3, Takssera Village Development
          Committee of Rukum, died in this incident.”
          71. In August 1999, a Christian, who was allegedly mentally disturbed, is said to have
          desecrated a Hindu temple in Janakpur and claimed that Jesus had asked him to do so. He was
          reportedly handed over to the police by local Christians, who condemned this incident.
          However, Hindu groups allegedly demanded the arrest of employees of a local Christian
          hospital. Four persons were reportedly detained and interrogated by the police and later
          released. A Hindu committee allegedly submitted a memorandum to the King urging him to ban
          the preaching of Christianity in Nepal. Hindu extremists reportedly attacked the local Protestant
          church. Nepal's reply is still awaited.
          72. The legal status of women is said to be unfavourable. A draft family code aimed at
          eradicating all discrimination with regard to the ownership of property and the custody of
          children in the event of divorce, as well as the practice of repudiation, was reportedly blocked by
          the hostility of extremist Muslim organizations. Women supporting this draft have allegedly
          been threatened by extremists invoking Islam.
          73. The authorities of Kano State in northern Nigeria allegedly informed the Christian
          community that 150 buildings used as places of worship without the Government's approval
          would have to stop their religious activities. Christian representatives allegedly protested against
          this decision, which is perceived as discrimination, since it has allegedly not been applied to
          illegal Muslim places of worship. It is further alleged that the Emir of Ilorin, capital of Kwara
          State, called on the Government to ban the sale of land for the construction of churches and to
          relocate all churches outside Ilorin.
          74. The national legislation reportedly does not guarantee the right to conscientious objection
          on grounds of religious belief
          75. An official of the Seventh Day Adventists was reportedly arrested in November 1998 on
          the grounds that his congregation was not registered and that he had no pastoral qualifications.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 21
          He is said to have been released after paying $1,000 and to have left the town where he was
          arrested. In the town of Navoi, the Seventh Day Adventists are reported to have built a church
          which the authorities are refusing to register.
          76. In a detailed reply dealing with the case referred to above, Uzbekistan explained that the
          individual in question had violated the legislation on religious organizations by reason of the
          activities he engaged in without the Seventh Day Adventists being officially registered in the
          town of Karshi. It confirmed that he had been sentenced to a fine in accordance with the Code
          on Administrative Responsibility and explained that he had left the town to return to his place of
          residence. It added that the Seventh Day Adventists were registered by the Justice Department
          in Navoi region on 13 January 1999. In that respect, the Government explained that any
          religious organization could be established on the initiative of at least 100 citizens aged 18 or
          over and permanently resident in the territory. For the coordination and supervision of religious
          activities, a central administrative body could be established by the Constituent Assembly of
          representatives of the religious organization registered, operating in at least eight territorial
          divisions of Uzbekistan. A religious organization acquired legal status and could carry on its
          activities only after being registered by the Ministry of Justice and its representatives in the
          province. The Special Rapporteur wishes to draw attention to the fact that regulation of the
          exercise of worship, while being useful and very often necessary, must not constitute an obstacle
          to freedom of religion.
          77. According to other communications, several Jehovah's Witnesses are said to have been
          arrested and fined and even imprisoned for religious activities which were illegal because they
          had not registered their congregation. In June 1999, four converts from Islam to the Christianity
          of the unregistered organization “Full Gospel Church” were allegedly sentenced to lengthy
          prison terms for drug possession, whereas the case was apparently a police set-up forming part of
          a strategy to combat the rise of Christianity among the population. In June 1999, one person was
          allegedly arrested for distributing Christian pamphlets to soldiers during a stopover at Nukus
          78. In Karachi, four men were reportedly murder by Shiites in January 1999 while at prayer
          in a mosque. The police are said to have arrested members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba extremist
          group, who reportedly denied any responsibility. In December 1998, a bomb is said to have
          exploded in the cathedral, injuring a worshipper. In addition, an Ahmadi was reportedly
          murdered by a member of an anti-Ahmadi organization.
          79. Muslim extremists are reportedly still using the blasphemy acts against the Ahmadi
          community. These extremists are said to have threatened the police in order to make them
          register their complaints about blasphemy. In Karachi, a Muslim woman who converted to
          Christianity was allegedly harassed by Muslim clerics and other Muslims. The woman's
          children are said to have been expelled from their schools because of her conversion. The police
          were informed of these developments, but allegedly took no action. The curriculum of
          secondary schools apparently includes mandatory Islamic instruction for Muslim students, who
          must take exams on the subject. Reportedly, students from non-Muslim communities are denied
          this opportunity with regard to their own religions. Students in non-Muslim private schools can
          page 22
          receive religious instruction, but this is not officially recognized at the national level. In
          May 1999, in Punjab, a woman was allegedly murdered for belonging to the Ahmadi
          80. Following an order of May 1998 amending the legislation on exemption from property
          tax for religious organizations recognized by the State, a number of Christian congregations,
          particularly Evangelist ones, reportedly ceased their activities because of the absence of financial
          resources needed to pay taxes. In Lima, some of these organizations are said to have filed a
          complaint against the municipal authorities on the grounds that the order did not apply to the
          Catholic Church, and that was contrary to the constitutional principle of equality before the law.
          81. Peru sent a report to the National Human Rights Council on the tax regime applicable to
          the immovable property of religious organizations. The Council concluded that there is no
          discrimination against non-Catholic religious organizations, since the exemptions provided for in
          Legislative Decree No. 776 are applicable to all religions.
          Syrian Arab Republic
          82. The right to conscientious objection on grounds of religious belief is reportedly not
          recognized by law. Syria replied that there were no cases of conscientious objection on grounds
          of religion and belief in its territory. The Special Rapporteur thanks Syria for its reply and
          would like to know whether Syrian legislation guarantees conscientious objection.
          83. The Seventh Day Adventists are said to be requesting the restitution of their religious
          property confiscated in 1969. They would reportedly like to be able to resume their activities in
          84. Syria replied that the Seventh Day Adventist Church was a “sect” practising strange rites
          that were unrelated to Christianity and other religions. Following complaints by all the Christian
          churches against the practices and ideas of this “sect”, which are perceived as being contrary to
          Christian beliefs and designed to create divisions between Christians, the authorities decided in
          the 1960s to close the premises used by this “sect” without authorization. It was explained that,
          except for three persons who are now very elderly, all the members of the “sect” have left Syria.
          Syria concluded that all religious communities, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish,
          nonetheless carry out their activities and worship in entirely normal conditions and in full
          Republic of Korea
          85. The national legislation reportedly does not guarantee the right to conscientious objection
          on grounds of religious belief
          86. In its reply, the Republic of Korea emphasized the importance it attaches to freedom of
          religion and belief, while recalling its sovereign right and responsibility for the defence of the
          territory and the maintenance of public order in conformity, according to its representatives, with
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 23
          the provisions of article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights providing for
          limitations for purposes of public order and the general welfare. The unique security situation of
          the Korean peninsula made the maintenance of a system of compulsory and universal
          conscription inevitable. The introduction of an alternative form of service would be difficult
          because public opinion was sensitive to equity in the performance of military service.
          87. The Special Rapporteur, while understanding the concerns of the Republic of Korea,
          wishes to recall that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in several resolutions,
          such as resolution 1998/77, recognized the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to
          military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
          religion as laid down in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and
          General Comment No. 22 (48) of the Human Rights Committee. It also reminded States with a
          system of compulsory military service, where such a provision has not already been made, of its
          recommendation that they provide for conscientious objectors various forms of alternative
          service which are compatible with the reasons for conscientious objection, of non-combatant or
          civilian character, in the public interest and of not punitive nature. Moreover, it should be
          pointed out pursuant to article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
          freedom of belief cannot be subject to limitations, on the understanding that it is distinct from
          freedom to manifest a belief, which can be subject to limitations as provided for by international
          Lao People's Democratic Republic
          88. In February and March 1999, 25 Evangelists were reportedly arrested for practising their
          religion and, in particular, for their alleged proselytizing activities. The police reportedly made
          their release conditional on the signature of a statement that they would give up their Christian
          Republic of Moldova
          89. The legislation reportedly makes no provision for alternative service for conscientious
          objectors, who can allegedly be imprisoned. The authorities apparently refuse to register the
          Jehovah's Witnesses as a recognized religion, mainly because they object to military service.
          The Baptist Church, which has allegedly met with a similar refusal, is said to be forbidden to
          distribute its literature and to organize public meetings. The legislation apparently prohibits
          forced proselytism, but is said to contain vague definitions. Reportedly, the local authorities,
          under pressure from the Orthodox Church, have refused to allow the Seventh Day Adventists to
          rent public buildings for religious activities.
          90. The reply states that the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and worship
          according to the law. It also states that a law on alternative service was adopted in July 1991.
          The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Union of Baptist Churches were registered on 27 July 1994 and
          2 May 1995, respectively.
          page 24
          Dominican Republic
          91. Members of the national police must allegedly attend Catholic mass. The Catholic
          Church is said to be given preferential treatment by the Government, especially with regard to
          the granting of public funds for church expenditures and tax exemptions on imported goods.
          Democratic People's Republic of Korea
          92. Buddhist and Christian religious organizations and places of worship have reportedly
          been established by the authorities for political purposes and are intended for foreign visitors,
          tourists and religious officials. Access to these places of worship by nationals, who are said to
          regard them merely as tourist sites intended for foreigners, is allegedly strictly monitored.
          93. Despite the constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of religion and worship,
          village councils in fact sometimes engage in discriminatory behaviour, including the expulsion
          of people not sharing the belief prevailing in the village and the destruction of their property.
          94. In August 1999, a Canadian Catholic priest was expelled without explanation by the
          Immigration Department. The Special Rapporteur also requested information once again on the
          situation of two Catholic priests, Father Lino Sabbat and Father H. Boma, who were arrested by
          the security forces in August 1988 and accused of involvement in the Khartoum explosions in
          June 1998 (E/CN.4/1999/58, para. 96).
          Sri Lanka
          95. Two Seventh Day Adventists, including a pastor and pastor's son, were reportedly
          arrested in 1998 and are said to have been detained since then on the basis of apparently
          unjustified suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. The Special Rapporteur would like to
          receive the views and comments of the Government of Sri Lanka as soon as possible.
          Taj ikistan
          96. The national legislation reportedly does not guarantee the right to conscientious objection
          on grounds of religious belief
          97. The President of the Central Asian Conference of Seventh Day Adventists has reportedly
          had books written by him confiscated. This congregation is said not to have been registered by
          the authorities in the town of Ashgabat. hi Turkmenbashi in March 1999, moreover, a member
          of the Baptist congregation was reportedly sentenced to two years' imprisonment for fraud,
          whereas the real reason was apparently that he belonged to the Baptist church. He and his family
          had reportedly already received threats from the security forces if they did not leave the Baptist
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 25
          congregation, which was banned by the security forces. In April 1999, in Chardzhev, a
          Jehovah's Witness was sentenced to two years' imprisonment on the grounds of his
          conscientious objection.
          98. The duration of alternative service for conscientious objectors is apparently punitive in
          nature. Moreover, it is said that only members of officially registered religious communities
          whose doctrines prohibit military service can perform alternative service. Christian communities
          which are not indigenous to Ukraine reportedly encounter difficulties. The legislation on
          freedom of conscience and religion apparently states that the religious activities of foreigners
          must be confined strictly within the framework of the host organizations and must be approved
          by the authorities which registered the congregations concerned. The procedures for the
          registration of religious organizations originating outside Ukraine were said to be delayed by the
          local and regional authorities, and this allegedly impedes the acquisition of property. The
          Seventh Day Adventists reportedly encounter difficulties in educational institutions in the case of
          examinations scheduled for the Sabbath. The same problem apparently arises in the workplace.
          Viet Nam
          99. In May 1999, in Hanoi, the security forces allegedly interrupted a bible meeting in a hotel
          which was being sponsored by the Assemblies of the Church of God: the 20 participants in this
          religious activity were allegedly arrested for disturbing public order; 18 of them were then
          released. Reverend Paul Tran Dinh Ai was reportedly held in detention for one month with no
          indication of the specific charges against him. The Christian communities in the province of
          Binh Phuoc allegedly applied to the authorities for authorizations to build new buildings
          intended for worship because the places of worship they had been using until then were
          dilapidated and in order to meet urgent needs resulting from the increase in the number of
          followers. No permission was reportedly granted by the authorities and the followers therefore
          built a place of worship without authorization, in order to cope with the emergency. In
          June 1999, police officers, soldiers and other law enforcement officials reportedly destroyed the
          building and threatened to destroy others and to arrest anyone involved in the unauthorized
          construction of places of worship. In September 1999, in Ho Chi Minh City, the bonze Thich
          Nhat Ban was reportedly arrested twice by the police on charges of belonging to an illegal
          organization, the United Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (EBUV), and trying to overthrow the
          Government. Several of his EBUV documents were confiscated. He allegedly stated that the
          intention of the United Buddhist Church of Viet Nam was not to undermine the State, but to
          enjoy freedom of religion. The bonze Thich Tue Sy, Secretary-General of the EBUV Dharma
          Propagation Institute, was reportedly also interrogated by security officials who accused him of
          attempting to overthrow the Government. A diskette that belonged to him and contained
          translations of sutras and EBUV documents was allegedly confiscated.
          100. Viet Nam replied in connection with the case of Reverend Tran Dinh Ai, stating that the
          incident had already been settled in May 1999. The competent Vietnamese authorities
          confirmed that he was not under arrest.
          page 26
          101. The right to conscientious objection on grounds of religious belief is reportedly not
          recognized by law.
          102. Christian communities reportedly cannot engage in religious activities vis-à-vis Muslims.
          The correspondence of the clergy is apparently sometimes monitored by the authorities in order
          to prevent any proselytism. Women are allegedly affected by certain laws, which seem to be
          based on religious rules: in particular, a woman wishing to obtain a passport and travel abroad is
          said to need the permission of her father or husband.
          Late replies
          103. The late replies to the communications sent for the fifty-fifth session of the Commission
          on Human Rights by Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of),
          Malaysia and Sudan were reflected in the report to the fifty-fourth session of the
          General Assembly (A154/386). The Special Rapporteur also received two replies from
          Azerbaijan and one reply from India after the submission of that report to the General Assembly.
          Azerbaijan (E/CN.4/1 999/58, para. 34)
          104. Azerbaijan stated that Pastor Zaur Balayev, a Muslim who converted to Christianity,
          had never been detained or imprisoned. It also referred to the provisions of the Constitution
          and the legislation on freedom of religion and belief, explaining that 200 mosques, more
          than 50 Christian communities and churches and S synagogues were registered in Azerbaijan,
          while there were also active communities, institutions and religious centres belonging to
          Muslims from the Caucasus, Russian Orthodox churches, Evangelists, Baptists, Adventists, the
          Saving Grace Association, Krishnas and Baha'is. Hundreds of unofficial religious groups were
          also active, 60 of which were Christian. With regard to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Azerbaijan
          stated that the denial of registration of their association was based on the fact that the documents
          submitted did not meet the legal requirements on freedom of religion. The conclusions of the
          Religious Affairs Department and information brought to the attention of the Ministry of Justice
          show that quite a large share of the propaganda work of the followers of this association involves
          insulting and denigrating other religions, inciting non-respect for the laws of the country and
          insubordination and not recognizing the outward signs of the authority of the State. It was
          explained that one of the association's leaders had been arrested by the police for attempted
          corruption aimed at having the association registered and that he had been given a suspended
          sentence by a court. It was specified that, according to article 18 of the Constitution, “the
          dissemination of and propaganda for religions contrary to the dignity of the individual and the
          principles of mankind are prohibited” and that, under article 1 of the Freedom of Religion Act,
          “the exercise of freedom of religion may be restricted only on grounds of State security and
          public order and in the event of a need to protect rights and freedoms in accordance with the
          international obligations of the Azerbaijani Republic”. Lastly, it was stated that the Jehovah's
          witnesses had never been prosecuted for their religious opinions by the authorities.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 27
          India (E/CN.4/1999/58, para. 62)
          105. India's reply reads as follows: “(a) Reply to first allegation: while certain political
          parties and groups might have stalled legislation relating to reservation of seats for women in
          Parliament, it would be incorrect to state that these political parties and groups represent a
          particular religion; (b) Reply to second allegation: Inquiries made in the matter revealed that
          Ms. Zeenat Naaz was elected mayor of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh in October 1995. On
          30 March 1996 in a meeting of the Board, all the members expressed dissatisfaction with the
          manner of functioning of the mayor. There was a conflict between the mayor and the members
          and on 19 January 1998 all the members passed a vote of ‘no confidence' against the mayor.
          Ms. Zeenat also filed a writ in the State High Court against the decision. The High Court (vide
          its order dated 27 February 1998) disallowed the writ petition filed by Ms. Zeenat and ordered
          counting of the votes polled in the ‘no confidence' motion. On 6 March 1998 the vote of no
          confidence was passed and an order to this effect was pasted on the house of Ms. Zeenat. As per
          regulation, after three days the deputy mayor of Deoband took up the charge as mayor of
          Deoband. Ms. Zeenat filed a special appeal in the Supreme Court against this decision. Earlier a
          writ filed by Ms. Zeenat in the High Court against the vote of confidence was disallowed by the
          High Court. The Honourable Supreme Court has not yet taken any notice of the special appeal
          filed by Ms. Zeenat.”
          106. The Special Rapporteur has still not received replies to the communications sent in
          connection with the report to the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on Human Rights from
          the following States: Albania, Angola, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea,
          Georgia, Ghana, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova,
          Russian Federation, Spain, Sudan (communication relating to the disappearance of a convert),
          Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Yemen. The Special Rapporteur would like to receive the replies of
          these States as soon as possible in order to avoid having to draw attention to the lack of replies
          every time.
          A. Initiatives of the Commission
          1. World Conference Against Racism
          107. In its resolution 1999/78 entitled “Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
          intolerance” the Commission on Human Rights requests the High Commissioner for Human
          Rights to invite the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance to participate actively in the
          preparatory process and in the World Conference by initiating studies on action to combat
          incitement to hatred and religious intolerance. In resolution 1999/39 entitled “Implementation of
          the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
          Religion or Belief', the Special Rapporteur is invited to contribute effectively to the preparatory
          process for the World Conference and to forward to the High Commissioner his
          page 28
          recommendations on religious intolerance which have a bearing on the World Conference
          (para. 7). Lastly, in resolution 1999/82 entitled “Defamation of religions”, the Commission,
          expressing concern at any use of the print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means to
          incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards Islam or
          any other religion (para. 3), calls upon the Special Rapporteurs on religious intolerance and on
          racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to take into account the
          provisions of the resolution when reporting to the Commission (para. 6).
          108. In accordance with the above resolutions, the Special Rapporteur has recommended the
          following studies:
          (a) A study which might be entitled “Image of religious minorities in the media”. As
          explained by the Special Rapporteur in several mission reports, especially those on Germany
          (E/CN.4/1998/6/Add.2) and the United States of America (E/CN.4/1999/58/Add.1), the media,
          and in particular the popular press, all too often portrays matters relating to religion and belief, in
          particular religious minorities, in a grotesque, not to say totally distorted and harmful light. The
          Special Rapporteur has recommended starting a campaign to develop awareness among the
          media of the need to publish information that respects the principles of tolerance and
          non-discrimination. These measures would also make it possible to educate and shape public
          opinion in accordance with these principles. The study would therefore identify the role of the
          media in hatred and religious intolerance vis-à-vis religious minorities, and their responsibilities
          and would recommend preventive measures, including action to be taken under the Office of the
          High Commissioner for Human Rights advisory services programme;
          (b) A study which might be entitled “Intolerance against etbno-religious
          communities: identification and measures”, which would try to identify the main factors of
          intolerance against ethno-religious communities, and its manifestations and would recommend
          measures to combat and prevent them.
          2. Defamation
          109. In its resolution 1999/82 entitled “Defamation of religions”, the Commission on Human
          Rights expresses deep concern at negative stereotyping of religions, and at the fact that Islam is
          frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and with terrorism; also
          expressing concern at the role of the media, the Commission calls upon the Special Rapporteur
          on religious intolerance to take into account the provisions of that resolution when reporting to
          the Commission at its fifty-sixth session.
          110. That resolution in fact confirms the concern already expressed by the Special Rapporteur,
          especially in his mission reports on Pakistan (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add. 1) and Sudan
          (A15 1/542/Add.2). The Special Rapporteur had found that religious, especially Muslim,
          minorities were the butt of prejudice and stereotyping, a finding echoed in paragraph 2 of
          resolution 1999/82. Moreover, in accordance with paragraph 3 of the same resolution, the
          Special Rapporteur had described in his mission reports on Germany (E/CN.4/1998/6/Add.2),
          the United States of America (E/CN.4/1999/58/Add. 1) and Australia (E/CN.4/1998/6/Add. 1) the
          association of Islam with religious extremism and terrorism found in the media and particularly
          in the popular press. Recommendations had been made on that subject in the aforementioned
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 29
          mission reports. While acknowledging the danger represented by the extremism of groups
          claiming allegiance to Islam, the Special Rapportuer believes it is important to distinguish
          between such extremists using Islam for political purposes, who are in fact in a minority, and the
          majority of Muslims practising Islam in accordance with the principles of tolerance and
          non-discrimination. The Special Rapporteur had also found that non-Muslim religious
          minorities were victims of defamation (see his reports on missions to Pakistan and the
          United States). For this reason the Special Rapporteur fully endorses the Commission on Human
          Rights' finding that all religions are or may be affected by defamation. It is important to indicate
          that defamation often stems from intolerance and/or inter-religious as well as intra-religious
          ignorance, often in the context of an adversarial relationship between majority and minorities.
          Lastly, it should be emphasized that there are growing problems between traditional majority
          religions and sects/new religious movements, as well as between believers and non-believers.
          111. The Special Rapporteur also wishes to stress another concern relating to efforts to combat
          defamation: these should not be used to censure all inter-religious and intra-religious criticism.
          Several other communications from the Special Rapporteur illustrate the danger that efforts to
          combat defamation (particularly blasphemy) may be manipulated for purposes contrary to human
          B. Initiatives of the Special Rapporteur
          112. The Special Rapporteur is continuing his efforts to compile a compendium of national
          enactments relating to freedom of religion and belief Such a collection would be regularly
          updated and made publicly available in a databank on an Internet site. A total of 49 States
          (see A154/386, para. 99) have so far contributed to this initiative, with which it would be
          desirable for all States to cooperate.
          113. The Special Rapporteur is also continuing his efforts to undertake research on the
          following topics: (a) status of women with regard to religion; (b) proselytism, freedom of
          religion and poverty; and (c) sects, new religious movements and communities of religion and
          114. With regard to the culture of tolerance, which is the mainstay of prevention, the Special
          Rapporteur is currently finalizing plans to convene an international consultative conference to
          discuss the content of curricula and textbooks used in primary and secondary schools relating to
          freedom of religion and belief in November 2001, for the anniversary of the adoption of the
          Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on
          Religion or Belief, (see A154/386, para. 102). Details of this project will be forwarded in due
          115. Since he was appointed, the Special Rapporteur has carried out lOin situ visits (to China,
          Pakistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Greece, Sudan, India, Australia, Germany, United States of
          America and Viet Nam). He visited Turkey in December 1999. A visit to Bangladesh is planned
          for the year 2000, while requests for visits to Argentina, Indonesia, Mauritius, Israel, the
          Russian Federation and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have so far remained
          page 30
          unanswered. The Special Rapporteur has continued his mission follow-up procedure, established
          in 1996, with which most States have cooperated, although the replies of Iran, Germany and
          Australia are still pending.
          116. This year, the Special Rapporteur decided that in addition to his “traditional” visits, he
          would visit the major religious communities in order to establish a direct dialogue on the subject
          of the 1981 Declaration and on all issues relating to freedom of religion or belief and to consider
          solutions to whatever problems of intolerance and discrimination might arise. In
          September 1999, the Special Rapporteur visited the Holy See.
          117. From ito 3 September 1999, the Special Rapporteur visited the Holy See for an audience
          with the Holy Father and a series of consultations with the Secretariat of State, the Pontifical
          Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the
          Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
          Unity, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of
          Migrants and Itinerant People, and with Cardinal Achille Silvestrini in charge of Catholic
          churches of the Eastern Rite. This altogether untypical visit differed from previous missions
          undertaken by the Special Rapporteur insofar as it was one of several consultations of
          representatives of the main religions. While the Holy See is of course a State under international
          law, it is also the representative of Catholicism, one of the main religions in the world (see
          statistics below). The Special Rapporteur opted for this new type of visit (without excluding the
          continuation of traditional missions) in order to achieve and to disseminate a better
          understanding of religious approaches to the liberty of religion and belief, and to gain experience
          related to inter-community relations in the area of religion and belief, especially from the angle
          of inter-religious dialogue. Apart from education, inter-religious dialogue constitutes one of the
          principal means of preventing intolerance and discrimination based on religion and belief This
          is why the report on this visit considers inter-community relations in the area of religion and
          belief in some detail, while giving due consideration to topics related to international and
          national law in the area of freedom of religion, to the Vatican's relations with States and to
          matters concerning women, the family and education.
          A. Statistical data
          118. According to the 1997 Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church (published by
          the Church's Central Office of Statistics), at 30 June 1997, baptised Catholics accounted
          for 1,005,254,000 ofatotal of 5,820,767,000 inhabitants in the world. This figure does not
          include the Catholic population estimated at 4,600,000, of countries which, owing to their
          current situation, are not covered in the survey. The distribution of the Catholic population
          differs considerably from one country to another and one continent to another. The Americas
          have the greatest concentration, with 62.9 Catholics for every 100 inhabitants, followed by
          Europe with 41.4 per cent and Oceania with 27.5 per cent. Asia has the lowest Catholic
          population, with 3 per cent.
          119. At 31 December 1997, there were 2,789 ecclesiastical constituencies (i.e. dioceses,
          including the sees of patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops, and territories,
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 31
          including territorial prelatures and abbeys, which are not constituted as dioceses but subject to
          ordinary authority) covered by this survey, including 2,595 of the Latin Rite and 194 of the
          Eastern Rite. At 31 December 1997, 146 constituencies could not be covered in the survey
          owing to various difficulties.
          120. At the same date, 31 December 1997, the 2,789 constituencies covered in the survey
          included 425,349 “pastoral centres” (defined as the section of the territory of an ecclesiastical
          constituency having its own church, a given population and a pastor in charge of the souls of the
          faithful). This represents an average of 153 such centres per ecclesiastical constituency, the
          lowest figure being 19 in the Asian Middle East and the highest 212 in Europe. Parishes, on the
          whole, account on average for 51.6 per cent of all centres. Africa has the lowest proportion
          (11.8 per cent) and Asia and the Middle East the highest (94.4 per cent). Missionary posts make
          up 27.1 per cent of all centres, the highest proportion being in Africa (86.3 per cent). At
          31 December 1997, there were 90,669 pastoral centres, or 21.5 per cent of the total, which were
          not canonically established as parishes or missionary posts.
          121. At 31 December 1997, the total number of persons following an apostolic vocation
          (i.e. bishops, priests, established deacons, secular clergy, confirmed nuns and committed laity)
          was 3,386,809, including 4,420 bishops, 404,208 priests, 24,407 established deacons,
          58,310 secular clergy, 819,278 confirmed nuns, 31,197 members of lay institutions,
          26,068 non-clerical missionaries and 2,019,021 catechists. These figures are probably an
          under-estimation, since they do not include persons living in the constituencies who are not
          covered in the survey.
          122. With regard to religious practice, as measured in terms of baptisms, marriages,
          confirmations and first communions for the year 1997, the figures are as follows:
          (a) Baptisms: 18,065,091, including 87.3 per cent administered to children under the
          age of seven;
          (b) Marriages: 3,534,253 of the Catholic Rite, including 229,685 mixed marriages;
          (c) Confirmations and first communions: 9,016,244 confirmations and
          11,816,170 first communions.
          123. There were 114,283 charitable establishments either owned or run by ecclesiastical or
          religious persons, subdivided as follows:
          (a) Hospitals: 5,188
          (b) Dispensaries: 17,157
          (c) Leprosariums: 825
          (d) Homes for elderly persons, chronic invalids, invalids and handicapped
          persons: 12,209
          page 32
          (e) Orphanages: 8,246
          (1) Nurseries: 11,911
          (g) Marriage counsellors: 10,618
          (h) Special education or social re-education centres: 10,726
          (i) Other institutions: 37,403.
          B. Position with regard to international and national law in the area
          of religious freedom
          124. As far as international law governing religious freedom is concerned, the Vatican's
          position follows the provisions on religious liberty, its manifestations and its limitations
          contained in the United Nations Declaration of 1981 and in the 1966 International Covenant on
          Civil and Political Rights. It may be noted that the Vatican took an active part in preparing and
          adopting the 1981 Declaration.
          125. The Vatican's International Theological Commission, in its document “Dignity and
          rights of the human person” (31 December 1983), referring to the Universal Declaration of
          Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant, stresses that religious freedom is
          fundamental for the dignity of the person and as the foundation of all other rights. In its
          Declaration “ Dignitatis Humanae ” (7 December 1965), the Second Vatican Council defined the
          purpose and foundation of religious freedom as follows: “Freedom of this kind means that all
          men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human
          power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to
          be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or in
          public, alone or in associations with others”. By virtue of this Declaration, freedom of religion is
          a fundamental right not only of the individual but also of religious communities. The
          Declaration states that: “Provided the just requirements of public order are not violated, these
          groups have a right to immunity so that they may organize themselves according to their own
          principles. They must be allowed to honour the supreme Godhead with public worship, help
          their members to practice their religion and strengthen them with religious instruction, and
          promote institutions in which members may work together to organize their own lives according
          to their religious principles”. It also mentions the principle of non-interference, particularly by
          legislative or administrative action, in the internal religious affairs of religious communities
          (including the selection, training, appointment and transfer of their own ministers, religious
          buildings and the acquisition and use of property) as well as in their teaching and all public
          manifestations of their faith. With regard to the latter, it is pointed out that any action which
          seems to suggest coercion or dishonest or unworthy persuasion must be considered an abuse of a
          person's own right and an infringement of the rights of others. Lastly, it mentions the right to
          establish educational, cultural, charitable and social organizations.
          126. The role of the State with respect to religious freedom may be defined in the light of the
          above-mentioned principle of non-interference by the State outside the limits prescribed by
          international law. According to the Vatican, the State has an obligation to guarantee personal
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 33
          and collective freedoms derived from the common right to religious freedom for all individuals
          and groups, and in particular for religious minorities. The right to religious freedom and the
          legal guarantee of that right arising therefrom constitute, according to the Vatican, the sources
          and the basis of peaceful coexistence. The legal guarantees provided by the State for the
          freedom of every individual and every group to profess their religious beliefs provide a measure
          of a society's respect for other fundamental rights. Furthermore, even if for historic reasons a
          State grants special protection to one religion in particular, it must nevertheless safeguard the
          personal and collective freedoms of religious minorities derived from the common right to
          religious freedom in civil society.
          127. With regard to international law, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace considers
          that any initiative to adopt an international convention on religious freedom might, in the present
          circumstances run into difficulties in relation to the achievements of the 1981 Declaration,
          whence the need, according to the Council, to strengthen the mandate of the Special Rapporteur
          on religious intolerance. With reference to the 1981 Declaration and the International Covenant
          of 1966, covering not only freedom of religion but also freedom of belief, which according to the
          Council arose from a political compromise, it made the point that the specificity of religion
          should be preserved against the danger of it being reduced to culture and, more generally, against
          the danger of it being denatured.
          128. With regard to domestic legislation, the Council considers that most national laws
          governing religious freedom, recently adopted in Eastern European countries, are inadequate,
          which appears inevitable in view of the flaws affecting those societies and democracies. In
          view of the hasty output of incomplete legislation influenced by a variety of interests, it
          would be better to provide guidance in the form of technical assistance by the Office of the
          High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance rather
          than merely criticize. The problem of attempts by the State authorities to control religious
          matters, for instance by requiring the official registration of all religious organizations, arises not
          only in Europe, but also in other continents. The Council's view is that there is no such thing as
          an ideal legislative model, that it is not up to the State to define religion, but that while the
          attributes of religion are reasonably clear, it is preferable to establish a certain number of rules.
          Depending on the situation in individual countries, especially in regard to their political maturity,
          the Vatican has in some cases called for legislation to protect the Catholic community. In any
          event, especially in the case of groups of a problematic religious nature, it is considered that the
          State should interfere under the exceptions provided by international law (see in particular the
          notion of ordre public) . The Council concluded that this uneasy tension between law and
          freedom of religion shows that the solution does not always lie in a legislative approach.
          C. Position in relation to States
          129. The Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with a 171 States. In the last 20 years, under
          the Pontificate of John Paul II, the number has risen substantially (from 90 States previously).
          The establishment of diplomatic relations has generally followed a request by the State
          concerned and has been based on criteria such as the absence of territorial problems and of
          flagrant, institutionalized human rights violations. The Vatican's agreements with States have of
          course been designed to benefit the Catholic community, but they have also benefited other
          Christian communities, which can take advantage of the conditions obtained by the Vatican. It
          page 34
          has been the latter's policy, within the framework of the Conference on Security and
          Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), to seek the safeguard of freedom of religion, extended to all
          religions. The view is also held that any concessions obtained from a State in religious matters,
          regardless of the regime concerned, will subsequently be reflected in other rights. The
          information given below covers States with or without diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
          130. It was said that generally speaking, with a few exceptions, Muslim States or States with a
          chiefly Muslim population are very open in their dealings with the Holy See. In some cases,
          however, a State itself may maintain satisfactory relations with the Holy See, which is
          considered more as a diplomatic partner, while its Catholic community is viewed with suspicion
          by the authorities. In the case of Iraq in particular, the local Catholic community was said to be
          the largest in the Middle East and it was found that Christians experienced the least survival
          problems there. It was confirmed that the Pope would be visiting Iraq as part of year 2000
          jubilee celebrations. It now appears, however, at the time this report is being finalized, that the
          visit may be postponed or even cancelled altogether.
          131. Concerning Saudi Arabia, it was pointed out that a mosque has been built in Rome, with
          the full agreement of the Holy See, and that the question now arises of reciprocity by
          Saudi Arabia with regard to the religious needs of the large Christian community residing in that
          country. In relations with Pakistan, the problem was raised of local legislation on blasphemy
          affecting minorities, especially Christians. In the case of Sudan, there are reportedly many
          difficulties affecting Christians, such as the destruction of places of worship and Christian
          villages, or arrests of religious persons.
          132. With regard to the States of Eastern Europe and of the CIS, it was explained that in the
          last 10 years the Vatican has concluded many agreements (e.g. with Croatia, Hungary and
          Kazakhstan) or is preparing to do so (e.g. with Kyrgyzstan) on specific issues, such as
          cooperation in schooling, social and health matters.
          133. Where Asia is concerned, it was stated that the Pope would be visiting India in
          November 1999 and possibly, subject to the agreement of the authorities of that country,
          Viet Nam (the establishment of diplomatic relations might be discussed once certain questions
          have been clarified, especially concerning the free appointment of bishops, free access to
          seminaries and the nomination of seminarists at the end of their studies). Despite the spirit of
          tolerance inherent in Asian religions and cultures, it has been found that the situation may be
          delicate in practice, owing to very closely related political and religious attitudes, for instance
          through slogans associating citizenship exclusively with Buddhism and Hinduism. The question
          of China was said to be political rather than ideological, chiefly related to the appointment of
          bishops by the Vatican in Taiwan.
          134. With regard to the recovery of property confiscated from the Vatican in some States
          under earlier regimes, it was explained that the Vatican has decided to settle such matters on a
          case-by-case basis. In a number of countries, the Vatican has given up its claims. In others,
          such as Croatia and Hungary and soon Slovakia, restitution agreements have been successful.
          Some lesser problems may arise, however, especially in Russia and Albania. It was pointed out
          that the Vatican's requests for return of property were based on pastoral considerations, namely
          service to the community.
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 35
          D. Position in relation to communities in the area of religion and belief
          135. This position is best seen from two basic angles, inter-religious dialogue and
          evangelization. The Vatican bodies dealing with inter-religious dialogue are as follows:
          (a) The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, whose mandate covers all
          religious communities except for Jews and non-Catholic Christians;
          (b) The Commission for Religious Relations with Jews;
          (c) The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
          On the question of evangelization, the relevant body is the Congregation for the Evangelization
          of Peoples. Of course, the question of evangelization overlaps that of inter-religious dialogue.
          1. Inter-religious dialogue
          136. The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue (set up in 1964 as the Secretariat for
          Non-Christians and assuming its present title in 1988), as stipulated in Pastor Bonus
          (John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution of 28 June 1988), “fosters suitable dialogue with the
          followers of other religions and encourages various kinds of relations with them. It promotes
          appropriate studies and conferences to develop mutual information and esteem, so that human
          dignity and the spiritual and moral riches of people may ever grow. The Council sees to the
          formation of those who engage in this kind of dialogue.”
          137. The Council fosters dialogue with established world religions as well as with traditional
          religions. The Vatican II Council - especially the 1965 Declaration Nostra Aetate - constituted a
          turning point, ushering in a new approach by the Catholic Church to other religions. The
          Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions ( Nostra Aetate ) states as
          “In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the
          ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely
          the relationship with non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love
          among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this Declaration what men
          have in common and what draws them to fellowship. One is the community of all
          peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the
          Earth. One also is their final goal, God.”
          138. With regard to other religions, Nostra Aetate , in paragraph 2, refers explicitly to
          Hinduism and Buddhism, and adds that:
          “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She
          regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and
          teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth,
          nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”
          page 36
          139. Paragraph 3 of the Declaration deals exclusively with Muslims:
          “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims Since in the course of
          centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims,
          this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual
          understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all
          mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”
          140. Paragraph 4 concerning the Jews explains as follows:
          “Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great,
          this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect
          which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal
          dialogues. True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the
          death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the
          Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church
          is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by
          God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in
          catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that
          does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ. Furthermore, in her
          rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she
          shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual
          love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any
          time and by anyone.”
          141. In its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium
          (21 November 1964),Vatican II presented the theological and pastoral bases of a new
          commitment by the Church to meet and listen to other believers and to arrive at mutual
          “We are referring to the children of the Hebrew people, who deserve our affection
          and our respect, and who are the faithful of the religion which we call that of the Old
          Testament; also to those who worship God in accordance with a monotheistic
          conception - especially in the Muslim religion - who deserve our admiration for all that is
          true and good in their worship of God.”
          142. With regard to the Muslims, a Commission for fostering relations with Muslims was set
          up under the Pontifical Council, in 1974, to facilitate meetings of a religious nature. In
          the 1970s, many meetings were held between Muslims and Christians, at a local, national,
          regional and international level, to discuss a great variety of issues, such as freedom of religion
          and public profession of faith, and Islamic-Christian cooperation for the well-being of mankind.
          Many diplomatic ties have also been established between the Vatican and Muslim States or
          countries with a predominantly Muslim population. Paul VI was the first Pope to receive a
          growing number of Muslim delegations at the Vatican. John Paul II then lent further impetus to
          relations with Muslims. His first Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis , referring explicitly to Jews
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 37
          and Muslims as worthy of esteem on the part of Christians, the Pope calls on Christians to use a
          great variety of human and spiritual means to come closer to other believers: “dialogue,
          contacts, prayers in common, the search for treasures of human spirituality”.
          143. Apart from undertaking many visits to Muslim States, the Pontifical Council for
          Inter-Religious Dialogue has each year sent a letter of congratulations to Muslims for the festival
          of Breaking the Fast (Id al-Fitr), except in the year 1991, when, in view of the destruction and
          suffering brought about by the Gulf War, the Pope addressed the Muslims personally. Many
          fellowships for Christian studies are also granted to Muslims through the Nostra Aetate
          Foundation set up by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. On 22 June 1995, an
          Islamic-Catholic Committee was set up, immediately following the inauguration of the Rome
          Mosque. The first meeting of the Committee, in Cairo in May 1996, was organized by the
          International Islamic Council for “Da'wah” and Humanitarian Aid, and was attended on the
          Muslim side by the Muslim World League and the World Muslim Congress. Following that
          meeting, a cooperation agreement was signed with the Al-Azhar Institute of Cairo in May 1998.
          Discussion meetings were also organized with the Al-Albait Foundation and the International
          Society for Appeal to Islam. Relations between Christians and Muslims appear particularly
          important owing to their shared history and their spiritual links, despite their differences.
          144. With regard to the Jews, the Vatican provided the Special Rapporteur with a document
          entitled “Letter from John Paul II to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy. We remember: A
          Reflection on the Shoah”, dated 12 March 1998, and a document entitled “The tragedy of the
          Shoah and the duty of remembrance “by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews
          dated 16 March 1998. In the above letter, Pope John II points out that on numerous occasions
          during his Pontificate he had recalled the sufferings of the Jewish people during the Second
          World War and the crime which has come to be known as the Shoah. He also expresses the hope
          that the Commission's document on the Shoah will help to heal the wounds of past recent
          misunderstandings and injustices. “May it enable memory to play its necessary part in the
          process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable inequity of the Shoah will never again be
          possible. May the Lord of history guide the efforts of Catholics and Jews and all men and
          women of good will as they work together for a world of true respect for the life and dignity of
          every human being, for all have been created in the image and likeness of God.”
          145. The Commission's document on the tragedy of the Shoah and the duty of remembrance
          also raises the question of the relation between Nazi persecution and the attitudes down the
          centuries of Christians towards the Jews. It considers that the history of relations between Jews
          and Christians has been quite negative. In this respect it draws a distinction between
          anti-Semitism, based on theories contrary to the teaching of the Church, and anti-Judaism,
          characterized by sentiments of mistrust and hostility, of which Christians have also been guilty.
          It recalls the efforts made by the Vatican and Christians to assist Jews during the Second World
          War, while regretting the errors and failures of certain Christians. It concludes:
          “We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people had suffered in
          our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn
          awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no
          page 38
          more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a
          shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a
          common father in faith, Abraham”.
          146. For other religions, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism (as mentioned in the
          Declaration Nostra Aetate) , the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue has not set up
          any special committees, as it did for the Muslims and Jews. Dialogue has been maintained,
          however, by means of visits and meetings, which have been organized/sponsored by the Council
          and through messages addressed to Buddhists for the feast of Vesakh and to Hindus for the
          festival of Diwali. Buddhists also receive study fellowships from the Nostra Aetate Foundation.
          The dialogue has been more limited lately with the Buddhists, partly owing to political events
          affecting religious affairs in Asia, and partly to ensure that the Council's action is not interpreted
          as interference in the internal affairs of certain countries. Dialogue is also maintained, although
          less formally, with Shintoist, Jainists, Sikhs and Confucianists.
          147. With regard to traditional religions (“religions which, unlike the world religions that have
          spread into many countries and cultures, have remained in their original sociocultural
          environment”, according to the definition given in the Pastoral Attention to Traditional Religions
          of Asia, America and Oceania, issued by the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue,
          21 November 1993), also referred to as tribal, primitive, primeval, native or indigenous religions,
          the action of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, chiefly in Africa, Asia,
          America and Oceania, has concentrated partly on the followers of these religions and partly on
          people who have converted to Catholicism while maintaining their ties with their traditional
          religion. Where converts are concerned, the Catholic Church has recognized that a problem of
          syncretism arises owing to the fact that traditional values have not been fully integrated within a
          Christian lifestyle. The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue is trying to solve this
          problem by organizing meetings, discussions and visits and by conveying the following message:
          “Evangelization does not destroy your values but is incarnated in them; it consolidates and
          strengthens them”. With regard to those who adhere to traditional religions and do not wish to
          become Christians, dialogue is understood in the sense of encounter, mutual understanding,
          respect, and recognition of which traditional religious values can be integrated within the
          common heritage.
          148. Inter-religious dialogue concerns also non-Catholic Christians, under a mandate assumed
          by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1960. According to this Council,
          great strides have been made in this area in terms of understanding and respect since Vatican II,
          and more precisely since the Declaration on Religious Liberty ( Dignitatis Humanae) . It was said
          that the difficulties encountered historically with non-Christians (especially Orthodox and
          Protestant), leading to differences on certain issues, were in fact related more to political than to
          ideological considerations. With regard to the Orthodox Churches, since the end of the cold war
          the activity of the Catholic Church, which is interpreted as a form of proselytism in areas
          considered as traditionally Orthodox, has given rise to a certain tension. On the other hand, the
          activities of Protestants, and especially Evangelists, in Latin America, an area traditionally under
          the influence of the Catholic Church, become a problem when they turn into aggressive
          proselytism among Catholics, such as attempts to win converts on the doorsteps of churches or
          offers of services in return for conversions. In response to these tensions, the Council
          recommends dialogue at a national level (through conferences of bishops assisted in each
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          page 39
          country by a commission for dialogue), at regional level (in the form of institutional dialogue at
          least once a year) and at international level (especially with the World Council of Churches, the
          Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Methodists and the World Council of Baptists,
          amongst others, with further openings to the Mennonites and the Seventh-Day Adventists). It is
          hoped that this dialogue will lead to some areas of agreement (e.g. regarding the
          above-mentioned difficulties with Orthodox believers and Evangelists, or a reminder of the right
          to public worship excluding illicit means) and will achieve progress, with the year 2000 Jubilee
          offering the hope for greater unity and love beyond tolerance.
          2. Evangelization
          149. Evangelization also constitutes a meeting point between the Catholic Church and other
          religious communities. In 1991, the Secretariat for Non-Christians published the document
          “Dialogue and Mission - The Attitude of the Church Towards the Followers of Other Religions:
          Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission”. This document examines the relations
          between dialogue and mission and in particular the relation between mission and conversion.
          The aim of the missionary proclamation, for Vatican II, is conversion “so that non-Christians,
          their heart opened by the Holy Spirit, believe and freely convert to the Lord and loyally cling to
          him”. The Catholic Church is constantly inviting all people to be converted in this way. The
          process of conversion, however, is governed by the supreme law of conscience. People must
          never be obliged to act against their conscience, nor should they be prevented from acting in
          accordance with their conscience, especially in religious matters. In the document “Dialogue
          and Proclamation - Reflection and Orientations on Inter-Religious Dialogue and the
          Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”, published on 20 June 1991 by the Pontifical
          Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, it
          is made clear that inter-religious dialogue and proclamation are linked, but not interchangeable:
          “Inter-religious dialogue and proclamation, though not on the same level, are both
          authentic elements of the Church's evangelizing mission. Both are legitimate and
          necessary. They are intimately related, but not interchangeable: true inter-religious
          dialogue on the part of the Christian supposes the desire to make Jesus Christ better
          known, recognized and loved; proclaiming Jesus Christ is to be carried out in the Gospel
          spirit of dialogue. The two activities remain distinct but, as experience shows, one and
          the same local Church, one and the same person, can be diversely engaged in both.”
          150. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which was set up in 1659, expressed
          the view that these principles held by the Vatican, inspired by religion but not constituting a
          strategic position, were in line with United Nations principles concerning religious freedom, its
          manifestations and its limitations. While excesses might have been committed in the past by
          missionaries in their work of conversion, such excesses were contrary to the Vatican's own
          principles and instructions, as in the case of other religions. Emphasis was placed on the
          obstacles hampering the evangelizing activities of the Catholic Church, such as those created by
          totalitarian regimes, whose ideology is atheistic and whose leaders are hostile to religion, by
          theocratic States which do not respect the rights of religious minorities, by democratic States
          which are not respectful of religious feelings, by legislations opposed to religious freedom and
          by fanatics not prepared to accept difference. The need for dialogue was stressed, particularly in
          view of the spread of atheism.
          page 40
          151. With regard to the question of evangelization and the problems arising especially in
          countries traditionally tied to the Orthodox religion or to Islam, the Secretariat of State explained
          that religion could not be restricted within boundaries, as that would be contrary to human rights.
          On the contrary, where religion is concerned, the individual must take precedence over territorial
          considerations. Thus Polish and German Catholics living in countries of the former Soviet Bloc
          following the Orthodox tradition and the Christian minority residing in Saudi Arabia have
          religious requirements and rights to which the Catholic Church should legitimately be able to
          attend. Cardinal Silvestrini considered that the relations between the Catholic and Orthodox
          Churches were gradually improving.
          152. With regard to accusations that poverty is sometimes exploited for the purpose of gaining
          converts to Catholicism, the Secretariat of State said that any practices of that kind in use
          currently or in the past ran contrary to the Vatican's instructions, which advocated assistance
          without imposing faith. Similarly, in reply to complaints in Africa by Muslim organizations
          alleging that Christianization on the continent had been favoured by colonization and that
          Catholicism had been supported after colonization by aid activities, the Secretariat of State
          pointed out that Islam's resources in Africa were far greater than those of the Vatican. It was
          also stated that the Church was making an effort to detach itself from any colonial legacy while
          encouraging African Catholics to take their lives in hand.
          3. The question of “ sects or new religious movements ”
          153. The question of sects or new religious movements, or movements claiming to be such, is
          dealt with by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, the Congregation for the
          Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the
          Pontifical Council for Culture. The approach in this case is different from that adopted for
          Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, traditional and other religions, since study and
          documentation take precedence over dialogue. In 1995, the Working Group set up by the above
          bodies published an anthology of texts by the Sovereign Pontiff and the Catholic Episcopate
          under the title “Sects and New Religious Movements: Anthology of Texts by the Catholic
          Church (1986-1994)”. This Working Group has also taken part in several meetings, including
          the international symposium on “Reincarnation and the Christian message” (Gregorian
          University, Rome, March 1997), the Ecumenical Conference on “Religious freedom and new
          religious movements in central and eastern Europe” (Hungary, September 1997), and the
          Congress on “Societies and the new religious pluralism” (Canada, August 1996). The Working
          Group has identified essentially ecumenical and socio-juridical problems. Ecumenical problems
          revolve around the question of proselytism. According to the Working Group, in the countries of
          central and eastern Europe, the Catholic community, which is a minority, is often compared by
          Orthodox believers to a “sect”. Ajoint document should be drafted on ecumenical rights and
          duties, providing criteria for distinguishing proselytism from Christian testimony, and
          fundamentalism from genuine fidelity to the Gospel. The socio-juridical problem, according to
          the Working Group, resides in the fact that the new forms of religiosity constitute a challenge
          both for evangelization and for fundamental values. There is therefore a need to study questions
          such as how to defend not only religious freedom, but also the human dignity of every
          individual, which is threatened by sectarian associations; how to safeguard the common good in
          a pluralistic society against the subversive aims of certain movements; and what sort of legal
          status should be granted to associations of a religious nature.
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          154. In this connection, the Working Group referred to the recent debate in Europe concerning
          the State's duty to identify “sects” and to defend citizens and their families against the influence
          of groups which, under the cover of religion, pursue economic and political ends or attempts to
          exercise psychological control. The group pointed out that the publication of lists of “sects” and
          the establishment of observatories monitoring sectarian activities have given rise to controversy,
          which has even affected certain Catholic movements or communities. The group found that
          there was a considerable degree of terminological uncertainty with regard to the concepts of
          “religion”, “church” and “sect”, and from a legal point of view a tendency, instead of seeking a
          definition, to concentrate on abuses committed under the cover of religion but governed by the
          law of the country. It was also noted that transparency was noticeably absent in the case of
          esoteric movements, which were often driven by a Promethean conception of man, whereby
          creating a religion or a sect very often amounted more pragmatically to a straight power play.
          155. The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue said that the Vatican's objective was
          not to combat “sects” or “new religious movements”, for instance through defamatory
          campaigns, but instead to offer training and education to Christians. The Congregation for
          Catholic Education considers that the proliferation of sects, often in places where the traditional
          churches have not responded to the population's need to belong to or be active within a
          community, is a matter for very careful study, particularly regarding the role the laity could play
          in assisting the Church. The Congregation emphasized that the Vatican rejected not the “sects”
          as such, but the methods they used, which were often harmful to human dignity and in the end
          opposed to human rights.
          E. Position in relation to women and the family
          1. Ordination of women
          156. With regard to women and in particular the question of the ordination of women, the
          Vatican II Council, in its Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes , lists forms of discrimination
          affecting the fundamental rights of the individual, which must be overcome and eliminated
          because they are contrary to God's design. The first of those is related to gender. In his “Letter
          to women” of 29 June 1995, Pope John Paul II mentions the conditioning which, in every time
          and place, has been an obstacle to the progress of women, so that their dignity has been
          unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented, while they have often been relegated to
          the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. The Pope expresses regret in the letter for
          the objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, belonging to not just a few
          members of the Church. He considers that there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in
          every area where the rights of the individual are concerned.
          157. Referring to the history of the Church, the Pope refers to the “genius of women”, saying
          that from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre, including
          martyrs, saints and famous mystics, and many responsible for initiatives of extraordinary social
          importance. With regard to the priestly vocation, the Pope explains:
          “if Christ - by his free and sovereign choice, clearly attested to by the Gospel and by the
          Church's constant tradition, entrusted only to men the task of being an ‘icon' of his
          countenance as ‘shepherd' and ‘bridegroom' of the Church through the exercise of the
          page 42
          ministerial priesthood, this in no way detracts from the role of women, or for that matter
          from the role of the other members of the Church who are not ordained to the sacred
          ministry, since all share equally in the dignity proper to the ‘common priesthood' based
          on Baptism. These role distinctions should not be viewed in accordance with the criteria
          of functionality typical in human societies. Rather they must be understood according to
          the particular criteria of the sacramental economy, i.e. the economy of ‘signs' which God
          freely chooses in order to become present in the midst of humanity.”
          158. In the 1976 Declaration on the question of the admission of women to the priesthood, it is
          explained that the priesthood should in no way be considered as a right: baptism confers no
          personal entitlement to the ministerial function in the Church. The priesthood is never conferred
          for the honour or benefit of the person receiving it, but as a service to God and the Church. It is
          based on an explicit and totally selfless vocation. “It was not you who chose me; it was I who
          chose and instituted you” ... Equality is not the same as identity, and in this sense the Church is
          a differentiated body, in which each individual plays a role; the roles are different and should not
          be confused, but they do not give rise to any superiority of some over others.
          2. Procreation and abortion
          159. With regard to the procreation aspect of women and the family, the Vatican has
          expressed views on the question of genetic action, the regulation of fertility and medically
          assisted reproduction. It has also taken a position on abortion.
          (a) Genetic action
          160. A distinction needs to be drawn in this respect between strictly therapeutic action, aimed
          at treating illness due to genetic or chromosomal anomalies (which is generally speaking
          desirable, provided that it tends genuinely to promote the personal well-being of the individual
          without impairing his or her integrity or adversely affecting his or her living conditions), and
          manipulation altering the genetic heritage of human embryos (aimed at producing human beings
          pre-selected according to sex or other chosen characteristics, which would be contrary to
          personal dignity and to the interests of the human species).
          (b) Fertility control
          161. The Vatican considers that it is legitimate, on serious grounds, to make use of knowledge
          of female fertility and to forego marital prerogatives during fertile periods, but that it is
          illegitimate to resort to contraceptive methods. According to the Holy See, natural methods
          include accepting a person's time, in this case the female cycle, but also accepting dialogue,
          mutual respect and joint responsibility. Artificial means, on the other hand, introduce a split
          between sexual relations and procreation and submit fertility to arbitrary decisions by men and
          (c) Medically assisted procreation
          162. Any medical means of intervention used to further procreation must take the form of
          assistance, but must never substitute for the conjugal act. Thus the Vatican does not necessarily
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          page 43
          proscribe recourse to certain artificial means, such as homologous artificial insemination, which
          are aimed solely either at facilitating the natural act, or at achieving the objective of a normally
          accomplished natural act. The operation of homologous in vitro fertilization and embryo
          transfer is, according to the Holy See, illegitimate, since conception occurs not as a result of a
          conjugal act, but outside it, i.e. in vitro , through the intervention of technicians who determine
          prevailing conditions and execute the operation. It therefore no longer corresponds, according to
          the Vatican, to the sense of gift underlying human procreation, and instead derives from
          production and power better related to objects and belongings. The child is then born not as a
          gift of love, but as the product of a laboratory. Man no longer considers life as a gift of God, a
          sacred reality entrusted to his responsibility and hence to his loving protection. According to the
          Holy See, life becomes merely something he claims as his exclusive property, which he is totally
          free to dominate and manipulate.
          (d) Abortion
          163. Abortion, insofar as it represents the elimination of pre-natal life, must be forbidden, on
          the grounds of the inviolability of the human person from the moment of conception. Abortion
          is a direct violation of the fundamental right of the human being and constitutes an abominable
          offence. The Vatican has expressed serious concern at the widely held view that certain crimes
          against life may be justified in the name of a right of individual freedom, and, by the same token,
          are entitled not only to impunity, but also to State approval, so that they are practised in complete
          freedom and even paid for by health services. The Vatican will not tolerate any action aimed at
          destroying life, despite the risk of incomprehension, misunderstanding and even grave
          discrimination to which that view may give rise. According to the Holy See, life is far too
          fundamental a benefit to be equated even with very serious inconvenience. In the Vatican's
          opinion, ethical indifference to abortion is induced by a hedonistic and utilitarian culture, derived
          from a form of theoretical, practical materialism that has engendered a materialistic attitude to
          (e) Position with regard to education
          164. The following data show that the Vatican runs a vast educational system.
          165. On the basis of sources provided by the Congregation for Catholic Education,
          Ian D c Groof (in his paper entitled “The Church's mission and its school system for promoting
          the right to education” - July/September 1998) puts forward the following minimum estimates:
          - Africa (excluding higher education): 25,000 Catholic establishments and over
          7 million students;
          - America: about 40,000 establishments and 10 million students;
          - Asia and Oceania: 22,000 schools and about 8 million students;
          - Europe: 60,000 schools and about 9.8 million students
          - Middle East: 250,000 students.
          page 44
          166. The following information is given in the 1997 edition of the Statistical Yearbook of the
          Catholic Church of the Central Statistical Office, for 30 June 1997:
          (a) Training centres are subdivided into two main categories: seminaries, i.e. centres
          where student priests reside permanently and attend all classes; and homes, i.e. all other training
          centres. A further distinction needs to be drawn between centres offering classical or
          pre-philosophical courses and those providing philosophical and theological training, excluding
          higher university establishments and universities in general (while noting that the same centre
          may offer two different levels of training). The figures are as follows:
          (i) 3,006 training centres (2,293 seminaries and 713 homes) for the diocesan
          clergy and 3,397 training centres (1,670 seminaries and 1,727 homes) for
          the religious clergy;
          (ii) Out of the 3,006 training centres for the diocesan clergy, 1,665 give
          classical or pre-philosophical training courses and 1,341 courses in
          philosophy and theology; the 3,397 training centres for the religious clergy
          are divided into 1,383 giving classical courses and 2,014 giving
          philosophy and theology;
          (b) Figures for schools are as follows:
          • 58,244 nurseries with 5,112,570 children;
          • 86,505 primary schools with 25,400,000 pupils
          • 34,849 secondary or classical schools (first and second cycle) with approximately
          13,900,000 students.
          167. It appears from the interview with the Congregation for Catholic Education that there
          are 945 Catholic universities and 159 ecclesiastical faculties.
          168. In the field of education, the Catholic Church, whose mission is to proclaim the word of
          God and to teach the Gospel, has always considered that it was its duty to offer education,
          regardless of the policy of the public authorities. It has also always claimed the right to teach,
          this right being the corollary of its mission, as proclaimed by the 1917 Codex luris Canonici . In
          this respect, the school is the Church's favourite means of fulfilling its pastoral mission.
          Vatican II 's Declaration on Christian Education ( Gravissimum Educationis Momentum ) defined
          education as consisting not only in transmitting knowledge and values, but also in giving
          children sufficient maturity and sense ofjudgement, so that they are free, when adults, to form
          their own beliefs. The Catholic Church thus appeals to all believers and non-believers, to all
          schools and to all teachers. It endorses recognization of the universal nature of the right to
          169. The Congregation for Catholic Education noted that, in some regions, the percentage of
          Catholic students within the Catholic school system (excluding faculties of theology and
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          page 45
          seminaries) was very low, sometimes less than 1 per cent. The teaching includes practically no
          missionary work. The Catholic religion as such is taught as an optional subject offered outside
          normal classes.
          170. The Holy See expressed interest in the Special Rapporteur's project to organize a
          conference on education in the field of freedom of religion and belief in November 2001.
          171. A study of communications in the light of the 1981 Declaration reveals infringements of
          the principles of non-discrimination and tolerance in the field of religion and belief; freedom of
          thought, conscience and religion and belief; freedom to manifest religion or belief; freedom to
          dispose of religious property; the personal right to life, physical integrity and health; and the
          condition of women with respect to religion in the light of the relevant international provisions,
          particularly those contained in the 1981 Declaration.
          172. The Special Rapporteur has decided to analyse such infringements by identifying the
          main tendencies, since 1999, in the field of freedom of religion and belief
          173. The first tendency to note is the spread of religious extremism which is affecting most
          religions, including Islam, Hinduism and Judaism. This takes on either inter-religious
          dimensions (i.e. directed against other religions and beliefs) and/or intra-religious dimensions
          (i.e. directed against communities belonging to the same religion). The victims of both these
          forms of extremism are partly minorities (which does not exclude the reverse oppression of a
          majority) and partly women (who are subjected to discriminatory measures giving them an
          inferior and even non-legal status, and very often to expressions of violence, such as physical
          attacks, kidnappings and rape). These forms of extremism very often originate with
          non-governmental bodies, sometimes with groups acting out of pure fanaticism related to
          ignorance and obscurantism, sometimes with extremist communities deliberately aiming to use
          politics in order to impose their religious views on society, but also and above all with
          “professionals” of extremism exploiting religion for political ends. It is worth remaining aware
          and vigilant, however, regarding the passive or active complicity of State entities in most of
          those cases.
          174. The second point is that there is a general tendency to perpetuate policies, legislation and
          practices which affect freedom of religion and belief This general tendency itself clearly derives
          from the following trends:
          (a) A gradual decline in anti-religious and religious control policies in the interest of
          political ideology since the end of the cold war. Such policies undoubtedly persist in a number
          of countries, though in more subtle forms. The aim is no longer, at least officially and publicly,
          to eradicate religion, but to recognize it and allow it to manifest itself, though within the
          framework of strict controls by the authorities, in fact amounting to interference incompatible
          with international law
          (b) The pursuit of policies of intolerance and discrimination by authoritarian regimes
          against communities of religion or belief seen as opposing the authorities' goals;
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          (c) The maintenance of policies and practices of intolerance and discrimination
          against certain communities, particularly ethno-religious communities, within the framework of
          essentially political conflicts;
          (d) The pursuit of policies, legislation and practices hostile to religious minorities in
          countries with an official religion or where a majority of the population belongs to one faith;
          (e) The upsurge of intolerant and discriminatory policies and practices directed
          against “sects or new religious movements”;
          (f) The maintenance of policies, legislation and practices opposed to conscientious
          175. The third tendency to draw attention to is the persistence of discrimination and acts of
          intolerance attributed to religion affecting women; this tendency, which is derived from
          legislation, personal status and interpretations thereof, traditions, society and so-called religious
          extremism, is fostered by both State and non-State organizations. Lastly, there is a tendency
          towards a persistence of intolerance by society and intolerance by the State.
          176. In order to deal with a situation which may be considered on the whole alarming with
          regard to tolerance and non-discrimination based on religion or belief, the Special Rapporteur
          believes that in addition to the daily “management” of such phenomena through
          communications, urgent appeals and in situ visits, there is a vital need for prevention, as the only
          way of escaping from the vicious circle of violations of freedom of religion and belief Such
          prevention must be supported mainly by education and inter-religious dialogue.
          177. With regard to education, in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the World
          Conference on Human Rights reaffirmed “that States are duty-bound, as stipulated in the
          Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
          Cultural Rights and in other international human rights instruments, to ensure that education is
          aimed at strengthening the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The World
          Conference on Human Rights emphasizes the importance of incorporating the subject of human
          rights education programmes and calls upon States to do so. Education should promote
          understanding, tolerance, peace and friendly relations between the nations and all racial or
          religious groups and encourage the development of United Nations activities in pursuance of
          these objectives. Therefore, education on human rights and the dissemination of proper
          information, both theoretical and practical, play an important role in the promotion and respect
          of human rights with regard to all individuals without distinction of any kind such as race, sex,
          language or religion, and this should be integrated in the education policies at the national as
          well as international levels.”
          E/CN. 4/2000/65
          page 47
          178. It may be remembered that article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
          provides that:
          “States parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
          (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental
          freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
          (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in
          the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship
          among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of
          indigenous origin.”
          The Special Rapporteur believes that religious matters related to the rights of the child constitute
          an area where appropriate initiatives should be undertaken as a matter of priority. This is why, in
          conformity with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the relevant international
          instruments and the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly
          since 1995, the Special Rapporteur is pursuing his plan for an international school strategy on the
          question of tolerance and non-discrimination in relation to freedom of religion and belief in
          primary and secondary education establishments.
          179. Inter-religious dialogue appears essential for the prevention of misunderstandings,
          conflicts and violations in the area of freedom of religion and belief As was rightly recalled by
          the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her message (21 September 1999) on the occasion
          of the 950th anniversary of the city of Nuremberg and its conference on peace and human rights:
          “The full title of the conference - ‘Peace and Human Rights - Furthered by Religions, Threatened
          by Religions' - reflects the fact that religions' message of peace and love can be distorted to
          become an instrument of hate and conflict ... Religions can and should play a significant role in
          conflict prevention and post-conflict reconciliation.” The visit to the Vatican provided an
          opportunity to see what was being done in the area of inter-religious dialogue and to offer some
          general insight regarding the objectives, methods and mechanisms of inter-religious dialogue
          from the point of view of the Holy See. That visit, by considering a great variety of questions,
          such as the Vatican's position with regard to international and national law in the area of
          religious freedom, and its position in relation to States, communities sharing the same religion
          and belief, and education, also contributes to a better knowledge of one religion, in the event
          Catholicism, in its relations with other religions and therefore to a broader range of shared
          experience, as well as to a more meaningful dialogue between communities belonging to
          different religions and beliefs, and lastly to enhanced protection of freedom of religion and
          180. As Théo Boven had also very pertinently explained in his study “Religious Freedom in
          International Perspective: Existing and Future Standards” (1989): “What is at stake in the
          promotion and protection of religious liberty is not the search for objective truth but the
          enhancement of respect for the subjective rights of individuals or groups of individuals and
          communities. On the basis of this understanding the measures of implementation, at a national
          and international level, should focus on the promotion of constructive dialogue between
          religious communities themselves and between these communities and the public authorities in
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          a spirit of tolerance and respect”. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the initiative of the Geneva
          Spiritual Appeal, issued and signed in the course of an inter-denominational religious service
          by representatives of various religions and by the International Committee for the Red Cross
          (ICRC), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the
          High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO), on
          24 October 1999, in Geneva, for United Nations Day. He also welcomes the establishment by
          UNESCO of the World Council for Interreligious Dialogue and expresses the hope that this will
          have the effect of furthering exchanges between religions.
          181. Education and inter-religious dialogue, in other words, constitute essential means in both
          the medium and long term, of preventing the currently observed violations resulting from
          religious extremism, from special policies, legislations and practices, and from discrimination
          attributed to religion affecting women. Needless to say, such preventive action in no way
          excludes the on-going deployment of all means of combating existing violations.
          182. This approach, based both on management (which is and remains necessary and even
          fundamental) and on prevention, should inspire the initiatives encouraged by the
          Special Rapporteur, especially the preparation of a plan of action on the condition of women
          with regard to religion and to policies, legislation, traditions and practices either derived from or
          attributed to religion.
          183. The Special Rapporteur also wishes to stress the need for States to adopt initiatives to
          strengthen tolerance with regard to religion and belief, especially on the occasion of the
          twentieth anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981 of the
          Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on
          Religion or Belief This anniversary could provide an opportunity to review the situation as
          regards the “management” of intolerance and discrimination and to establish a plan of action for
          prevention, the two main pillars of which might be dialogue and education.