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Implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

A/51/542

          
          UNITED
          NATIONS
          General Assembly
          Distr.
          GENERAL
          A/s 1/542
          23 October 1996
          ENGLISH
          ORIGINAL: ENGLISH AND FRENCH
          Fifty-first session
          Agenda item 110 (b)
          HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS: HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS, INCLUDING
          ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES FOR IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVE ENJOYMENT
          OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS
          Implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of All
          Forms of Religious Intolerance and of Discrimination Based
          on Religion or Belief
          Note by the Secretary-General
          The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the members of the
          General Assembly the interim report on the elimination of all forms of religious
          intolerance, prepared by Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur of the
          Commission on Human Rights, in accordance with General Assembly resolution
          50/183 of 22 December 1995.
          96-28948 (E) 061196 111196 /. ..
        
          
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          CONTENTS
          Paragraphs Page
          I. INTRODUCTION 1 - 6 3
          II. IMPORTANCE OF IN SITU VISITS AND THEIR FOLLOW-UP 7 - 20 3
          III. DEVELOPMENT OF A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE 21 - 24 5
          IV. STATUS OF COMMUNICATIONS SINCE THE FIFTY-SECOND
          SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS 25 - 46 6
          V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 47 - 60 10
          Annexes
          I. A. Follow-up table addressed to the Chinese authorities 14
          B. Follow-up table addressed to the Iranian authorities 17
          C. Follow-up table addressed to the Pakistani authorities 22
          II. Reply of the Chinese authorities to the follow-up table 26
        
          
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          I. INTRODUCTION
          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 the terms of that resolution, the Special Rapporteur
          submitted his first report to the Commission at its forty-third session
          (E/CN.4/1987/35) . His mandate was extended for one year by resolution 1987/15
          of 4 March 1987, adopted at the same session of the Commission.
          3. From 1988 onwards, the Special Rapporteur submitted yearly reports to the
          Commission (E/cN.4/1988/45 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1989/44; E/CN.4/1990/46;
          E/CN.4/1991/56; E/CN.4/1992/52; E/CN.4/1993/62 and Add.1 and Corr.1) . In its
          resolutions 1988/55, 1990/27 and 1992/17, the Commission twice decided to extend
          the Special Rapporteur's mandate for two years, and then for three years until
          1995.
          4. After the resignation for Mr. JIIgelo Vidal d'Almeida Ribeiro, the Chairman
          of the Commission appointed Mr. Abdelfattah Amor as Special Rapporteur. The
          latter submitted his reports (E/cN.4/1994/79; E/cN.4/1995/91 and Add.1;
          E/CN.4/1996/95 and Add.1-2) to the Commission on Human Rights at its fiftieth,
          fifty-first and fifty-second sessions. By its resolution 1995/23 of
          24 February 1995, the Commission on Human Rights decided to extend the Special
          Rapporteur's mandate for three years.
          5. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 49/188 of 23 December 1994, the
          Special Rapporteur submitted an interim report to the General Assembly at its
          fiftieth session (A/50/440) .
          6. This report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 50/183 of
          22 December 1995. The Special Rapporteur has examined in situ visits and their
          follow-up, the development of a culture of tolerance and the status of
          communications since the fifty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights.
          II. IMPORTANCE OF IN SITU VISITS AND THEIR FOLLOW-UP
          7. The Special Rapporteur attaches considerable importance to in situ visits
          and their follow-up.
          8. He has therefore sought to increase the effectiveness of his mandate by
          making several requests for visits, as well as by making actual visits in the
          field on his own initiative or at the invitation of the Governments concerned.
          9. Starting in 1994, the Special Rapporteur made a visit to China in
          November 1994 on the initiative of the People's Republic of China
          (E/CN.4/1995/91, paras. 109 to 127) . In June 1995, he visited Pakistan at the
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          invitation of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
          (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.1) . In December 1995, he travelled to the Islamic Republic
          of Iran at the invitation of the Iranian Government (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2) .
          10. In June 1996, the Special Rapporteur visited Greece at the invitation of
          the Greek Government, and in September 1996, he visited the Sudan at the
          invitation of the Sudanese Government and pursuant to General Assembly
          resolution 50/197 of 22 December 1995 and Commission on Human Rights resolution
          1996/73 of 23 April 1996.
          11. In December 1996, the Special Rapporteur expects to make a visit to India
          which has been postponed several times by the Indian authorities for scheduling
          reasons.
          12. Lastly, the Special Rapporteur will travel to Australia in January 1997 at
          the invitation of the Australian Government and pursuant to paragraphs 14 and 15
          of General Assembly resolution 50/183 1/ and Commission on Human Rights
          resolution 1996/73.
          13. The Special Rapporteur considers it essential to make visits, firstly, to
          gather views and observations on any allegations of incidents and governmental
          action inconsistent with the provisions of the 1981 Declaration and, where
          appropriate, recommend remedial measures and, secondly, to analyse and publicize
          the positive experiences and initiatives of States.
          14. In 1995, the Special Rapporteur expressed the desire to visit Viet Nam and
          Turkey. The Vietnamese authorities replied by letter that they were considering
          the Special Rapporteur's request, and their final response is awaited. In the
          case of Turkey, the Special Rapporteur has unfortunately received no written
          reply to his letters, although there have been informal consultations with the
          responsible authorities this year.
          15. In 1996, the Special Rapporteur expressed the desire to visit Germany. The
          German authorities responded positively and proposed that the Special Rapporteur
          come in December 1996 or January 1997. For scheduling reasons, the Special
          Rapporteur has requested that this visit be postponed until after April 1997.
          16. Requests for visits were also sent to the Governments of Indonesia and
          Mauritius. The Special Rapporteur has yet to receive a response.
          17. The Special Rapporteur strongly encourages all States to invite him to
          visit their countries in order to strengthen understanding and mutual
          cooperation, in the interest of promoting tolerance and eliminating
          discrimination based on religion or belief.
          18. Following up past visits is another important element in the fulfilment of
          his mandate.
          19. Accordingly, in 1996, the Special Rapporteur set in motion procedures for
          following up his visits to China, Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
          Letters were sent to their respective Permanent Missions asking for comments and
          for any information on measures taken or envisaged by the authorities concerned
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          to implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in his reports
          on his visits and reproduced in table form (see annex I) . The Special
          Rapporteur received a reply from the Chinese authorities (see annex II ) , for
          which he expresses his gratitude. He also received the cooperation of the
          Iranian authorities in the form of consultations in Geneva and is awaiting
          comments and information from them in reply to his letter. Lastly, the Special
          Rapporteur noted the cooperative attitude of the Pakistani authorities at the
          latest session of the Commission on Human Rights and is hoping for a reply to
          his follow-up letter.
          20. The Special Rapporteur is thus counting on the cooperation of all States in
          order to be able not only to make in situ visits but also and above all to
          follow up the visits already made.
          III. DEVELOPMENT OF A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE
          21. The Special Rapporteur considers the development of a culture of tolerance
          as a basic priority for the implementation of a bona fide policy of preventing
          intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.
          22. As the Special Rapporteur explained in his previous reports to the General
          Assembly and to the Commission on Human Rights, education can make a decisive
          contribution to the internalization of values based on human rights and to the
          emergence, at both the individual and group levels, of attitudes and behaviours
          reflecting tolerance and non-discrimination, thus constituting an element in the
          dissemination of a human rights culture. As an essential component of the
          educational system, schools can provide fertile ground for achieving lasting
          progress in the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination with regard to
          religion and belief. Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur conducted a survey, by
          means of a questionnaire addressed to States, on problems relating to freedom of
          religion and belief from the standpoint of the curricula and textbooks of
          primary or elementary and secondary education institutions. The results of such
          a survey could facilitate the formulation of an international educational
          strategy to combat all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on
          religion or belief, a strategy that could centre on the definition and
          implementation of a common minimum programme to foster tolerance and
          non - discrimination.
          23. The Special Rapporteur has received replies from the following 78 States:
          Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia
          and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Colombia, CSte
          d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, France,
          Germany, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel,
          Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Marshall
          Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand,
          Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal,
          Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Senegal, Singapore,
          Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of
          Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and
          Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia and Zambia.
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          24. Recalling Commission on Human Rights resolution 1994/18 encouraging him to
          examine the contribution that education can make to the more effective promotion
          of religious tolerance, and Commission resolutions 1995/23 and 1996/23, as well
          as General Assembly resolution 50/183 stressing the importance of education in
          ensuring tolerance of religion and belief, the Special Rapporteur invites all
          other States to reply to the questionnaire addressed to them, in order to give
          proper scope to the results of this international survey. Once again, because
          of the insufficient resources allocated to the Special Rapporteur's mandate and
          despite the repeated pledges made by the Administration, it has not been
          possible to begin the sorting and analysis of replies that is necessary for the
          formulation of a draft international strategy and that will have to be
          undertaken as soon as possible.
          IV. STATUS OF COMMUNICATIONS SINCE THE FIFTY-SECOND
          SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
          25. This report on the status of communications and replies concerns
          communications sent since the fifty-second session of the Commission on Human
          Rights, the replies or absence of replies from the States concerned and late
          replies.
          26. Because of drastic budget cuts, the Special Rapporteur has been unable to
          publish these communications and the replies from States, contrary to the
          practice followed since the establishment of his mandate. This constraint is
          highly detrimental to the paramount importance of information and to its
          educational function and ultimately constitutes a form of information censorship
          that seriously undermines the Special Rapporteur's mandate. Accordingly, the
          Special Rapporteur has analysed the information and can provide anyone with
          copies of the communications and replies available at the Centre for Human
          Rights in Geneva.
          27. Since the fifty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights, the
          Special Rapporteur has sent communications to 35 States: Albania, Armenia,
          Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Chad, China, Croatia,
          Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Lao People's
          Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Republic of
          Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia,
          Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Viet Nam and Yemen.
          28. As to urgent appeals, Egypt was sent a second such appeal concerning
          Professor Nasr Abu Zeid of Cairo University, who was tried on 13 June 1995 by a
          court for his writings on interpretations of the Koran deemed anti-Islamic by
          Islamist plaintiffs. Professor Abu Zeid was allegedly declared an apostate by
          the court and required to divorce his wife (see E/CN.4/1996/95) . The Special
          Rapporteur sent a first urgent appeal on 22 June 1995 and a reminder on
          13 September 1995, and, on 19 February 1996, received a reply from the Egyptian
          authorities indicating that a final judgement had yet to be handed down in the
          case, that the case did not affect Professor Abu Zeid's professional status,
          that no decision to confiscate or ban his works had been taken and that his
          safety was assured. Moreover, Act No. 3 of 1996 had made the institution of
          legal proceedings on religious grounds the sole prerogative of the government
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          procurator, in order to prevent any abuses aimed at the defamation or
          intimidation of citizens. On 9 August 1996, the Special Rapporteur sent a
          second urgent appeal after the Court of Cassation took a decision which
          confirmed the order declaring Professor Abu Zeid an apostate and requiring him
          to separate from his wife. On 22 August 1996, the Egyptian authorities drew
          attention to the development of their legislation (as exemplified by the
          aforementioned Act No. 3 and by the Act of 21 May 1996 making the admissibility
          of a lawsuit contingent on the concept of personal and direct interest) and to
          the need to respect the independence of the judiciary.
          29. It should be noted that other cases involving allegations in the form of
          complaints will be examined later, inter alia , during in situ visits.
          30. Based on the analysis of the communications, the following is a very
          general classification of the religious communities against which violations
          have allegedly taken place:
          (a) Christianity: Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Georgia, Indonesia,
          Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Romania, Saudi
          Arabia, Somalia, Viet Nam, Yemen;
          (b) Islam: Chad, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, Yemen;
          (c) Buddhism: China, Russian Federation, Viet Nam;
          (d) Hinduism: Yemen;
          (e) Judaism: Belarus;
          (f) Other religions, religious groups and religious communities:
          (i) Baha'is: Armenia, Indonesia;
          (ii) Jehovah's Witnesses: Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Eritrea,
          Indonesia, Singapore;
          (iii) Hare Krishna: Armenia;
          (iv) Al Arqam: Malaysia;
          (v) Darul Arqam: Indonesia;
          (vi) Mormons: Ukraine;
          (g) All religions and religious groups except the official or State
          religion: Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Israel, Maldives.
          31. In analysing the communications by topic, the Special Rapporteur divided
          them into six categories of violations.
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          32. The first category concerns violations of the principle of
          non-discrimination in religion and belief. It involves allegations of
          discriminatory policies and/or legislation and regulations in regard to religion
          and belief, such as those against Christians and Shiites in Saudi Arabia;
          against non-Muslims in Brunei Darussalam and Maldives; against Christians in the
          Lao People's Democratic Republic; and against Christians and Muslims in Israel.
          In Eritrea, the Jehovah's Witnesses are also alleged to have suffered
          discrimination for expressing their religious beliefs. In addition, Bulgaria's
          alleged refusal to grant official recognition to religious groups such as the
          Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance, most Christian missions, independent churches
          and theological institutes is a violation of the principle of
          non-discrimination. The same is true of bans on specific religious communities,
          such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Baha'is and Darul Arqam in Indonesia; the
          Al Arqam group in Malaysia; and the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unification
          Church in Singapore. The Special Rapporteur sent a communication to the United
          Kingdom authorities concerning the publication of newspaper articles conveying a
          negative and discriminatory image of Muslims. Violations of the principle of
          non-discrimination are also found indirectly in the five other categories of
          violations.
          33. The second category concerns violations of the principle of tolerance in
          the area of religion and belief and reflects the Special Rapporteur's concern
          about religious extremism. Such extremism may threaten an entire society
          (Yemen) , certain categories of individuals such as artists (Chad) or teachers
          (Egypt) , or certain religious minorities (Mexico and Somalia) . It is important
          to note that religious extremism acts as a cancer in any religious group,
          whatever the denomination, and that it affects the members of that group just as
          much as those of other religious groups.
          34. The third category concerns violations of freedom of thought, conscience,
          and religion or belief. The question of conscientious objection is raised
          directly through allegations of prosecution, loss of citizenship rights
          (Eritrea) and/or imprisonment for refusing to perform military service (Cyprus,
          Croatia, Russian Federation, Singapore) . Other allegations raise the problem of
          the absence of legal recognition of the right of conscientious objection
          (Eritrea, Singapore) and, notably, the absence of alternative service (Russian
          Federation) or even of legal provisions recognizing the concept of conscientious
          objection and providing for unarmed military service, an omission at variance
          with international law (Cyprus) . Some allegations refer to an official campaign
          to force believers to renounce their faith (Lao People's Democratic Republic) .
          The freedom to change one's religion is also being violated, as shown by
          allegations of prohibitions on converting to another religion (Bhutan, Maldives)
          of prosecution (Kuwait) or under threat of ill-treatment (Mexico) .
          35. The fourth category concerns violations of the right to manifest one's
          religion or belief. It covers allegations of control of religious activities by
          the authorities (Armenia, Japan) which may take the form of restrictions on, or
          even the prohibition of, public manifestations (China, Maldives, Romania) or
          private manifestations (China, Saudi Arabia) , of religious beliefs and practices
          by certain religious groups, certain categories of persons - notably foreigners
          (Belarus, Ukraine) and certain professional bodies such as the army (banning of
          religious services other than those of the official religion in Bolivia) .
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          Often, a ban on proselytizing by certain religious communities is the subject of
          special legislation (Armenia, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Republic of Moldova)
          and may entail prison sentences (Morocco, Nepal) .
          36. The fifth category concerns violations of the freedom to dispose of
          religious property. The communications sent raise the question of the
          restitution of goods and properties to religious communities (Albania, Belarus) .
          Some allegations concern restrictions on certain religious groups' access to
          places of worship (Israel) which may also lead to the closing of those places
          (Bulgaria, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic) . Bureaucratic obstacles to
          the acquisition of property by certain religious communities have also been
          reported in Indonesia and Romania. Lastly, places of worship seem to be the
          target of very serious violations, especially arson (Indonesia) , desecration
          (Yemen) and destruction (China) .
          37. The sixth category concerns violations of the right to life, physical
          integrity and health of persons (clergy and believers) . The Special Rapporteur
          has received reports of many cases of threats (Chad, Yemen) , ill-treatment,
          arrests and detention (Armenia, China, Cyprus, Georgia, Lao People's Democratic
          Republic, Malaysia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Viet Nam) and even murders
          (Mexico, Somalia, Tajikistan, Yemen) . Such violations also appear in the
          religious extremism category.
          38. With regard to States' replies to communications other than urgent appeals,
          the deadline has not expired for 21 States: Armenia, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei
          Darussalam, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia,
          Maldives, Nepal, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Singapore, Somalia,
          Ukraine, Viet Nam and Yemen.
          39. Of the 13 States for which the deadline has expired (Albania, Bolivia,
          Bulgaria, Chad, Georgia, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mexico,
          Morocco, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and United Kingdom), S have replied:
          Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco and Romania.
          40. With reference to the content of replies, Kuwait provided a general
          response basically referring to its positive law and stating that judicial cases
          are examined in accordance with the laws of the country.
          41. The Lao People's Democratic Republic provided information on its
          legislation in the area of tolerance and non-discrimination with regard to
          religion or belief and denied reports of an official campaign against
          Christians. It did, however, emphasize that some Christians and
          non-governmental organizations had used religion for political ends, in
          violation of the laws in force, and were trying to convert people to
          Christianity in exchange for material assistance and exemption from military
          service and from State taxes. Those responsible for such disturbances of public
          order and social stability are subject to prosecution, irrespective of their
          religion.
          42. In its reply concerning the detention and subsequent hospitalization of a
          Muslim who had converted to Christianity and been found guilty of evangelism,
          Morocco stated that he had left the hospital at Inezgane on 3 June 1996.
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          43. Mexico provided detailed information and documentation on State initiatives
          and action to promote reconciliation and respect for the religious freedom of
          the Chamula and Catholic evangelical religious minorities.
          44. Romania disputed the allegations of discrimination against the Romanian
          Evangelical Alliance, especially as regards the procedures for approving
          construction permits for places of worship. Moreover, it claimed that the two
          “Voice of Gospel” radio stations had received authorization from the National
          Audio-visual Council to broadcast, but on another frequency. As for the
          restitution of church property taken over by the State in 1948, the authorities
          outlined State legislation and policy in that area, which sought to identify the
          most appropriate measures for preserving the current social usefulness of the
          property in question without creating privileges for certain religions to the
          detriment of others.
          45. On the subject of replies to communications sent within the context of the
          report to the fifty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights, the
          Special Rapporteur has received written replies from the following States:
          Austria, Belgium, China, Estonia, Germany, Japan, Maldives, Pakistan, Saudi
          Arabia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The content of those replies will be reflected in
          the next report to the Commission on Human Rights.
          46. The Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey also sent communications to the
          Special Rapporteur, for information.
          V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
          47. Based on his experience in the daily performance of his mandate and his
          visits in situ , the Special Rapporteur notes that no religion is completely safe
          from attack and that no State or category of States, or religion or religious
          group or community, has a monopoly on intolerance.
          48. It is a fact that freedom of religion does not seem to have won over the
          minds of all men and women. Each religion tends to believe that it is sole
          guardian of the truth and that it has a duty to make everyone bear witness to
          that truth. That does not always contribute to tolerance among religions.
          Moreover, each religion may be tempted to fight what it may consider to be
          deviance within its own ranks or around it. That does not always contribute to
          tolerance within religions, especially tolerance of religious minorities.
          Religious freedom is really threatened and even jeopardized when it serves as a
          cover or an alibi for criminal acts which are often difficult to confront.
          49. Such considerations lead the Special Rapporteur to express his grave
          concern at the problem of sects. In 1996, an increasing number of cases
          involving criminal acts - including murders - directly linked to groups
          identified as sects came to light in many countries. The Special Rapporteur,
          while sympathizing with the legitimate concerns expressed in various State
          sectors, whether Governments, parliaments or non-governmental victims'
          organizations, points out that the debate about sects and the campaigns against
          them are far too impassioned. Since many questions and misunderstandings
          surround the definitions and content of the terminologies of sects, new
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          religious movements and even formal religion and since in international practice
          confusion reigns and States may have diametrically opposed attitudes to the same
          group, raising it to formal religious status or pejoratively classifying it as a
          sect, the Special Rapporteur feels that an international high-level governmental
          conference should be held to study and decide upon a common approach to sects
          and religions that respects human rights. He stresses that identifying
          solutions will require great tolerance in order for compromises to be found that
          reconcile the necessary freedom of religion with the equally necessary
          preservation of integration in the national group, as well as equal respect for
          the law. The Special Rapporteur also recommends that the Subcommission
          authorize a study of the phenomenon of sects and religious freedom.
          50. Moreover, the fact is that religious extremism is not yet in retreat and
          seems set to continue to pose a threat, sometimes to entire regions. The major
          religions are no strangers to extremism and are sometimes exposed to these
          terrorist manifestations, which spare neither Governments nor the governed. It
          is vital to combat this religious extremism by taking action against both its
          causes and its effects and by getting States to define a minimum set of common
          rules of conduct and behaviour with regard to it.
          51. On a different level, it is of fundamental importance that places of
          worship should be reserved for religious, non-political uses, that the legal
          system governing political parties should be defined in such a way as to avoid
          political variables impinging on religious constants, and that schools should be
          protected from all ideological, political or partisan indoctrination. It is not
          possible to overemphasize the contribution that schools, and education in
          general, can make to transmitting the values associated with tolerance and
          freedom.
          52. From this point of view, the questionnaire on religious education in
          primary and secondary schools could be the starting point of a process to
          establish certain minimum common values and principles which might serve as a
          foundation for a common programme to foster tolerance and non-discrimination.
          For this reason, the Special Rapporteur calls on all States to become involved
          by replying to the questionnaire, thereby showing their commitment to a culture
          of tolerance.
          53. The Special Rapporteur also notes, on the basis of numerous communications,
          that the fundamental right of conscientious objection is being denied or
          questioned in many States.
          54. The Special Rapporteur is therefore anxious to remind States of Commission
          on Human Rights resolution 1989/59 of 8 March 1989, which has been reaffirmed on
          several occasions, in which the Commission recognizes “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 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as article 18 of
          the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, and recommends to
          States “with a system of compulsory military service, where such provision has
          not already been made, that they introduce for conscientious objectors various
          forms of alternative service” which “should be in principle of a non-combatant
          or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature” .
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          S E. In order to help achieve greater respect for and knowledge of the rights
          linked to religious freedom, as well as the principles of tolerance and
          non-discrimination with regard to religion and belief, the Special Rapporteur
          reiterates his recommendations for the implementation of specific programmes of
          advisory services and technical assistance (see E/CN.4/1995/91) . A note from
          the relevant services of the Centre for Human Rights on the implementation of
          such programmes is strongly recommended for the next session of the Commission
          on Human Rights.
          56. Lastly, in the context of setting up a documentation centre in the Centre
          for Human Rights at Geneva, the Special Rapporteur recommends that a department
          on religious freedom and human rights should be set up, with the aim of
          increasing the amount of information received and collected on the religious
          situation throughout the international community and establishing the necessary
          databases for more in-depth analysis and study in the area of religious freedom.
          57. The Special Rapporteur wishes to express his gratitude to States for their
          cooperation and for the opportunities that they have provided for fruitful
          dialogue. He particularly appreciated the efforts made by those Governments
          which tried to shed some light on the allegations, submitted to them and which
          initiated or responded positively to in situ visits. The replies supplied in
          this way by Governments and their cooperation with regard to visits are valuable
          tools which allow the Special Rapporteur to go on to form an authoritative
          opinion on the situation in a given country with respect to religious freedom.
          The Special Rapporteur is also grateful to those States which have cooperated
          more fully and closely in the recently initiated follow-up procedure to such
          visits.
          58. The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the non-governmental organizations
          for their excellent cooperation and to emphasize their dynamic role in relation
          to the mandate on religious intolerance. Their contribution is of paramount
          importance, not only for the day-to-day management of information but also for
          the preparation and conduct of in situ visits. The Special Rapporteur pays
          tribute to the professionalism and dedication to human rights shown by
          non-governmental, international and national organizations from North and South.
          He also wishes to encourage initiatives which fall entirely within the scope of
          the mandate on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination
          based on religion or belief, such as the various activities of the Tandem
          Project, including its ROBIN (Religion or Belief Information Network)
          programme, 3/ and the European Magazine of Human Rights published by the
          non-governmental organization Human Rights Without Frontiers as part of the
          “Religious intolerance and discrimination” series financed by the PHARE and
          Tacis Democracy Programme. 4/ Lastly, the Special Rapporteur thanks the
          Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Human Rights for the interest it has
          shown, at the United Nations in Geneva and New York, in the mandate on religious
          intolerance.
          59. As a result of the concerted actions of the international community, States
          and non-governmental organizations, a truly international public opinion is
          being formed in favour of containing and combating all forms of intolerance and
          discrimination based on religion or belief.
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          60. In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur wishes to make it absolutely clear
          that the resources at his disposal are inadequate for the effective
          accomplishment of his mandate. At the moment, there is in fact no correlation
          between what is at stake and the resources available. However legitimate the
          concerns of the United Nations to cut costs, the Special Rapporteur notes that
          the drastic limitations on the number of pages in his reports and on his in situ
          visits, as well as on the human and material assistance available to him, are
          truly detrimental to his mandate. The Special Rapporteur strongly insists that
          the resources assigned to his mandate should be increased, and he is quite
          prepared to accept financial contributions from States, non-governmental
          organizations and individuals within the framework of a voluntary fund for the
          mandate on religious intolerance managed in accordance with United Nations rules
          by the administration of the Centre for Human Rights, along the lines of the
          fund set up recently for the mandate on the question of violence against women.
          Any saving made at the expense of human rights at the present time is a lost
          opportunity for human rights which will translate into less freedom, less
          tolerance and less humanity.
          Notes
          1/ Paragraphs 14 and 15 of General Assembly resolution 50/183 read as
          follows:
          [ “The General Assembly]
          Invites the Special Rapporteur, within the terms of his mandate and in
          the context of recommending remedial measures, to take into account the
          experiences of various States as to which measures are most effective in
          promoting freedom of religion and belief and countering all forms of
          intolerance;
          Encourages Governments to give serious consideration to inviting the
          Special Rapporteur to visit their countries so as to enable him to fulfil
          his mandate even more effectively;”.
          2/ For the status of communications since the fifty-first session of the
          Commission on Human Rights, see E/CN.4/1996/95.
          3/ The ROBIN programme is a 24-hour-a-day interactive World Wide Web site
          on the Internet, using the latest computer technology to collect and report
          information on issues relating to freedom of religion or belief and public
          policy.
          4/ The PHARE and Tacis Democracy Programme is a European Union initiative
          to help promote democratic societies in the countries of Central and Eastern
          Europe and the newly independent States and Mongolia.
          ..
        
          
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          ANNEX I
          A. FOLLOW-UP TABLE ADDRESSED TO THE CHINESE AUTHORITIES
          1. Legislation
          Recommendations Comments and measures
          With regard to the right of freedom to
          manifest one's religion, the Special
          Rapporteur recommends that amendments
          be made to the pertinent legal texts,
          such as article 36 of the
          Constitution, so as to provide a
          constitutional guarantee of respect
          for freedom to manifest one's religion
          or belief in accordance with
          article 1, paragraph 1, of the
          1981 Declaration.
          With regard to the right of persons
          under the age of 18 to freedom of
          belief, the Special Rapporteur
          recommends that steps be taken to
          adopt a provision explicitly
          mentioning this right, so as to ensure
          the requisite compliance with the
          Convention on the Rights of the Child,
          especially article 14.
          The Special Rapporteur recommends the
          adoption of a text recognizing the
          right to freedom of belief and freedom
          to manifest one's belief for all,
          including members of the Communist
          Party and other socio-political
          organizations.
          With reference to places of worship,
          the Special Rapporteur recommends that
          the notion of a “fixed place” (para. 2
          of decree Number 145) be defined so as
          to clarify legally the particular
          terms, conditions and restrictions
          applying to worship at home. The
          Special Rapporteur recommends a more
          precise definition of the criteria for
          the registration of places of worship,
          especially the number of believers and
          the qualifications of members of
          religious orders.
        
          
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          Recommendations Comments and measures
          With regard to religious freedom in
          general, the Special Rapporteur
          recommends the introduction in the
          medium term of a law on religious
          freedom, so as to harmonize all the
          pertinent legal texts, remedy legal
          ambiguities and, in keeping with
          established international standards,
          overcome the particular fears and
          sensitivities prompted by the
          distinction between nationals and
          foreigners.
          2. Implementation of the legislation and policy in force
          Recommendations Comments and measures
          In order gradually to create a new
          culture among administrative and
          prison authorities, it is necessary to
          define the notion of “trespass to the
          person” expressly as an act committed
          by a public official, which may be
          unrelated to the performance of that
          person's duties or of a public service
          activity, so that the official has
          greater personal liability under civil
          and criminal law for direct and
          indirect, overt or covert
          infringements of or interference with
          religious freedom.
          The flexible approach between normal
          and abnormal religious activities
          should be extended so that ultimately
          the distinction effectively
          disappears.
          With regard to the alleged arrest or
          detention of members of religious
          orders and believers belonging to
          unofficial religious organizations
          (including members of sects and
          Tibetan monks) and restrictions
          affecting them, the Special Rapporteur
          reiterates his request that these
          persons be freed.
        
          
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          Recommendations
          Comments and measures
          With regard to Tibet, the Special
          Rapporteur recommends that the
          balances and compromises required
          by
          social dynamics be reached, so as
          to
          avoid the deeply religious being
          tempted by religious extremism.
          The Special Rapporteur recommends that
          religious figures who have served
          their sentences for “counter-
          revolutionary acts” should no longer
          be banned from entering places of
          worship. Furthermore, he recommends
          that a reasonable balance be worked
          out between the number of students of
          religion and the quality, duration and
          time set aside for their instruction.
          Likewise, the basically religious
          function of places of worship and the
          aim of making them financially
          independent should be made reasonably
          compatible.
          The Special Rapporteur wishes to
          stress the importance of giving State
          officials and judges adequate human
          rights training, especially on the
          subject of religious freedom. He
          recommends that the technical
          assistance and advisory services of
          the Centre for Human Rights should
          help in this area.
          The Special Rapporteur recommends that
          the principal texts on religious
          freedom should be posted in the
          administrative services concerned.
          Furthermore, the publication and
          distribution of a compendium of texts
          on religious freedom, including
          implementing instructions, is strongly
          recommended. The distribution of
          documentation about human rights to
          all religious institutions would also
          be desirable. The Special Rapporteur
          also recommends that citizens and
          institutions be informed about appeal
          procedures available in the event of a
          refusal to register religious
          organizations.
        
          
          Recommendations
          Education about tolerance and
          non-discrimination against religion
          and belief should be considered and
          introduced as soon as possible, as a
          way of combating all forms of
          intolerance and discrimination based
          on religion and belief. At the same
          time, the Special Rapporteur urges the
          creation of universities offering
          religious instruction as a main or
          subsidiary subject. More broadly, the
          Special Rapporteur recommends that a
          culture of human rights and in
          particular of tolerance should be
          spread by promoting the creation of
          human rights clubs in universities,
          which would strive chiefly to further
          the development of tolerance of and
          non-discrimination against religion
          and belief.
          Comments and measures
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          B. FOLLOW-UP TABLE ADDRESSED TO THE IRANIAN AUTHORITIES
          1. Legislation
          Recommendations
          Comments and measures
          The concept of Islamic criteria as set
          forth in article 4 of the Constitution
          should be precisely defined in
          regulations or legal texts without,
          however, giving rise to discrimination
          among citizens.
          Concerning professional access by
          members of minorities to the army and
          the judiciary (arts. 104 and 163 of
          the Constitution) , a legislative
          enactment regulating the
          Administration in general should
          prohibit discrimination against any
          Iranian citizen regardless of,
          inter alia , his or her beliefs or the
          community to which he or she belongs.
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          Recommendations Comments and measures
          Although the situation of
          non-recognized minorities or
          communities, such as the Baha'is, is
          covered by articles 14, 22 and 23 of
          the Constitution, in which the
          concepts of citizen, individual and
          person are used, a legislative
          enactment should give clearer
          recognition to these rights for every
          citizen, individual or person
          regardless, inter alia , of his beliefs
          or the community to which he belongs.
          2. Implementation of the legislation and policy in force
          (a) Recognized non-Muslim religious minorities
          Recommendations
          Comments and measures
          In the religious field, and
          particularly in that of religious
          education, instruction manuals should
          be compiled in closer, systematic
          collaboration with competent
          representatives of minorities in order
          to ensure that religious beliefs are
          correctly transcribed and respected.
          In the socio-cultural field, practical
          steps should be taken to ensure strict
          respect for the principle that
          religious laws should be applied in
          personal and community affairs,
          thereby excluding the application of
          the shariah to non-Muslims.
          In the field of education, and
          especially in minority schools, the
          Special Rapporteur recommends freedom
          of dress on the understanding that
          this should obviously not be exercised
          in a manner contrary to its purposes.
        
          
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          Recommendations
          Comments and measures
          With regard to managerial posts in the
          educational establishments of
          minorities, account should be taken of
          the special nature of minority
          schools, which should be reflected in
          their management.
          Minorities should collaborate closely
          in the formulation of educational
          programmes.
          In the professional field, the
          obligation for owners of grocery shops
          to indicate their religious
          affiliation on the front of their
          shops should be eliminated.
          In the judicial sector, the programme
          of advisory services of the Centre for
          Human Rights should be applied.
          Proper training of judicial and, in
          general, administrative personnel in
          human rights, particularly with regard
          to tolerance and non-discrimination
          based on religion or belief, would be
          highly appropriate.
          (b) Baha'is
          Recommendations
          Comments and measures
          The ban on the Baha'i organization
          should be lifted so that it can engage
          fully in its religious activities.
          All the community and personal
          property that has been confiscated
          should be returned and the places of
          worship that have been destroyed
          should be reconstructed, if possible,
          or, at least, should be the subject of
          compensatory measures in favour of the
          Baha'i community.
          The Baha'is should be free to bury and
          honour their dead.
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          Recommendations
          Comments
          and
          measures
          Concerning freedom of movement,
          including departure from Iranian
          territory, the question of religion
          should be deleted from passport
          application forms and this freedom
          should not be obstructed in any way.
          No discrimination should impede access
          by the Baha'is to education in higher
          educational establishments or to
          employment in the Administration and
          in the private sector.
          With regard to the judiciary, the
          Special Rapporteur reiterates the
          recommendations formulated concerning
          recognized minorities.
          The authorities should review or set
          aside the death sentences passed on
          Baha'is and should promulgate
          amnesties or any other appropriate
          measures to prevent the enforcement of
          the penalties imposed.
          (c) Protestants
          Recommendations
          Comments
          and
          measures
          The legal status of some religious
          associations, including the Universal
          Church, should be clarified through
          rehabilitation.
          The Protestant communities should be
          able to engage in their religious
          activities in full freedom, except
          where restrictions may apply as
          provided for in internationally
          recognized standards. To that end,
          the ban on the Bible Society of Iran
          and on the Garden of Evangelism should
          be lifted and freedom to write, print
          and disseminate religious
          publications, including the Bible,
          should be fully respected.
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          Recommendations Comments and measures
          On the specific question of places of
          worship and access thereto, all bans
          and restrictions should be lifted.
          The conduct of services and the
          language used therein should also be
          left entirely to the discretion of the
          ministers of religion concerned, who
          should be able to engage in their
          religious activities and choose their
          mode of expression without being
          subjected to any pressure.
          The conversion of Muslims to another
          religion should in no way give rise to
          pressures, bans or restrictions on the
          Protestant community, on the converts
          or on ministers of religion.
        
          
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          C. FOLLOW-UP TABLE ADDRESSED TO THE PAKISTANI AUTHORITIES
          1. Legislation
          Recommendations Comments and measures
          Blasphemy as an offence against belief
          may be subject to special legislation.
          However, such legislation should not
          be discriminatory and should not give
          rise to abuse. Nor should it be so
          vague as to jeopardize human rights,
          especially those of minorities. If
          offences against belief are made
          punishable under ordinary law, then
          procedural guarantees must be
          introduced and a balanced attitude
          must be maintained. While protecting
          freedom of conscience and freedom of
          worship is clearly a necessity,
          applying the death penalty for
          blasphemy appears disproportionate and
          even unacceptable. The Special
          Rapporteur endorses the Government's
          proposal to amend procedural aspects
          of the blasphemy law and would
          encourage it not only to give effect
          to this proposal, but also to go
          further in amending the law on
          blasphemy, and more generally on
          religious offences, in accordance with
          the views expressed above. The
          Special Rapporteur believes that in
          any event some practical measures,
          especially administrative and
          educational ones, should be
          implemented pending more substantial
          constitutional and legislative
          changes.
        
          
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          Recommendations Comments and measures
          The Special Rapporteur recommends that
          the authorities should check that
          Hudood ordinances are compatible with
          human rights and urges that Hudood
          penalties, because they are
          exclusively Muslim, should not be
          applied to non-Muslims. He also
          recommends establishing legislation on
          non-discriminatory evidence and
          advocates a single electoral system,
          involving all citizens without
          distinction, especially distinctions
          based on religion.
          With regard to proselytism, conversion
          and apostasy, the Special Rapporteur
          wishes to draw attention to the need
          to abide by international standards
          laid down in the field of human
          rights, including freedom to change
          religion and freedom to manifest one's
          religion or belief, either
          individually or in community with
          others, in public or in private,
          subject only to limitations prescribed
          by law.
          The Special Rapporteur considers that
          no mention of religion should be
          included on passports, on identity
          cards, on application forms or on any
          other administrative documents.
          Deletion of the statement required of
          Muslims regarding non-recognition of
          Ahmadis as Muslims in passport
          application forms is strongly
          recommended.
        
          
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          2. Implementation of the legislation and policy in force
          Recommendations Comments and measures
          The Special Rapporteur insists that
          all cases of abuse or rape against
          girls and women, especially those
          belonging to minorities, should be
          duly punished. In this respect, the
          duty of police authorities to carry
          out lawful arrests and searches should
          be recalled and applied in practice.
          Similarly, police officers should be
          held personally responsible, under
          both civil and criminal law, for any
          arbitrary arrest or detention. An
          indisputable record must be kept of
          the day and time of any arrest/
          detention and the reason for it, while
          all legal proceedings and guarantees
          must be complied with.
          Victims should be duly informed of the
          proceedings and guarantees provided by
          law.
          The Special Rapporteur considers that
          there is an urgent need to inculcate a
          spirit of tolerance and freedom in
          order to ensure that rights and
          liberties are enjoyed by all. The
          role of the State in this respect is
          fundamental and inescapable. There
          can be no real and lasting progress as
          regards tolerance while the greater
          part of the population remains
          illiterate and so long as the school
          system, the family, the media and
          religious practices (regardless of
          persuasion) are not called upon to
          make a fundamental effort to bring
          about a change of attitude and to
          ensure that the culture of tolerance
          is developed and strengthened. The
          State could also play a more active
          role in making public opinion more
          aware of the culture of tolerance.
          With the encouragement of the State,
          mass communication media should help
          more effectively to combat all forms
          of intolerance based on religion or
          belief.
        
          
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          Recommendations Comments and measures
          The Special Rapporteur considers that
          it would be appropriate to implement
          the programme of advisory services of
          the Centre for Human Rights and
          recalls the recommendations contained
          in his 1995 report to the Commission
          (E/CN.4/1995/91, chap. IV) . Suitable
          training of police and administrative
          staff in human rights, especially in
          the field of religious freedom, would
          be very welcome.
          With regard to religious extremism, in
          accordance with Commission on Human
          Rights resolution 1995/23, the Special
          Rapporteur encourages the Government
          to restrain it and to take appropriate
          measures in conformity with the law.
          By adopting and applying appropriate
          legislation, the State should
          guarantee the neutrality of places of
          worship and shelter them from
          political excesses and ideological and
          partisan struggles.
          Official educational policy should be
          set out in appropriate framework
          legislation aimed at combating
          illiteracy more effectively and
          advocating values based on human
          rights and tolerance, with the purpose
          of achieving a balanced development of
          the personality, avoiding the extremes
          of domination and submission on the
          one hand and rebellious tendencies on
          the other.
          The legislation concerning political
          parties should ensure that long-
          standing religious values are not
          interfered with by short-term
          political interests.
          The Special Rapporteur requests that
          the authorities in all circumstances
          ensure the serene operation of justice
          by protecting the courts from the
          pressures of demonstrations and
          crowds.
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          ANNEX II
          Reply of the Chinese authorities to the follow-up table
          The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the work of the Special
          Rapporteur on the question of religious intolerance. It has made a careful and
          detailed study of the recommendations which he made after his stay in China.
          The Chinese Government wishes to reply as follows:
          A. Question of legislation
          1. Amendment of the constitutional provisions relating to freedom of religion .
          Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution provides:
          “Citizens of the People's Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of
          religion and belief. No public body, social group or private individual
          may compel a citizen to practise or not to practise a religion or
          discriminate against a citizen who practises or does not practice a
          religion. The State shall protect normal religious activities. No one
          may, in practising a religion, engage in activities which endanger public
          order or the health of citizens or interfere with the system of public
          education. Religious groups and religious affairs may not be subject to
          any foreign authority.”
          The Chinese Government believes that this provision guarantees respect for and
          the protection of freedom of religion and belief and, in particular, protects
          the right to profess a religion or belief and to engage in normal religious
          activities, in keeping with the spirit of article 1 of the United Nations
          Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
          Based on Religion or Belief.
          2. Adoption of a legal provision explicitly mentioning the freedom of religion
          of persons under the age of 18 . The provisions of the Chinese Constitution and
          other legislative texts relating to freedom of religion and belief apply to all
          Chinese citizens, including persons under the age of 18.
          3. Adoption of a law recognizing freedom of religion and belief for all,
          including members of the Chinese Communist Party . The Chinese Constitution
          provides that citizens of the People's Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of
          religion and belief. This freedom encompasses both the right to have a religion
          and the right not to have one. This basic right, as guaranteed by the
          Constitution, applies to all Chinese citizens. The Chinese Communist Party is a
          grouping that professes the theory of materialism. By voluntarily joining the
          Party, citizens attest that in matters of belief they choose materialism, that
          is, atheism and not theism. The fact that Communist Party members do not
          believe in religion does not contradict the principle of freedom of religion and
          belief. Any member of the Party is free to leave it if he no longer believes in
          Marxism and starts to practise a religion. State law fully guarantees the right
          of citizens to choose whether to have a religion or not.
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          4. Clarification of the definition of “place of worship” as referred to in
          paragraph 2 of Decree No. 145 of the State Council . Pursuant to the “Places of
          worship regime”, namely, Decree No. 145, promulgated by the State Council in
          January 1994, the Council's Office of Religious Affairs drew up and issued, in
          April of that year, procedures for the registration of places of worship that
          explicitly set out the conditions that places of worship must meet in order to
          be recognized as such, namely: (a) the place must be a fixed place and have a
          name; (b) believers must go there frequently to participate in religious
          activities; (c) believers must have set up a governing body; (d) religious
          activities must be conducted by members of religious orders or by some other
          person designated to that end by the rules of the religion in question; (e) the
          place must be subject to a set of rules; (f) the place must be supported from
          the proceeds of a legitimate source of income. There are no provisions
          regarding the number of believers; the members of religious orders or persons
          who conduct religious activities are chosen by each religious order according to
          its own rules and customs.
          5. Introduction in the near future of a law on freedom of religion in keeping
          with established international norms . Since 1982, the legislative branch has
          been planning to introduce a basic law on religions. The views of various
          interested parties on this point have been sought: religious figures,
          academics, jurists and the civil service. The Constitution is the fundamental
          law of China and is the basis for all other laws and regulations. With a view
          to gradually improving the regime applicable to religious affairs, China is
          continuing to debate legislative and regulatory texts and to draft them in
          accordance with its Constitution and in the light of the experience of other
          countries which have legislation in this area.
          B. Implementation of the legislation and policy in force
          1. Question of the aggravated personal liability under civil and criminal law
          of State officials who violate freedom of religion . Article 147 of the Penal
          Code of the People's Republic of China provides:
          “Any State official who illegally deprives citizens of their legitimate
          freedom of religion or violates the customs and habits of minority ethnic
          groups shall be subject, in the case of a serious offence, to a mandatory
          sentence of imprisonment or penal detention of up to two years.”
          According to this provision, public officials who violate citizens' freedom of
          religion are personally liable for the violation.
          2. Distinction between “normal” and “abnormal” religious activities .
          Religious activities corresponding to rites practised either in a place of
          worship or at the home of a believer, depending on the religious custom, are
          considered “normal” activities and are accordingly protected by law. The
          Government believes, however, that normal religious activities should be clearly
          distinguished from all the superstitious activities that do not constitute a
          religious activity and that are detrimental to the interests of the State and to
          the well-being and property of the people, and from illegal activities that
          conflict with the provisions of the Constitution or the laws in force. The
          ..
        
          
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          State protects normal religious activities and prohibits any action which,
          masquerading as religion, disturbs public order, endangers the health of
          citizens or interferes with the functioning of the national education system.
          Persons who commit crimes under cover of religion are subject to investigation
          and indictment in accordance with the law.
          3. Alleged arrests or detention of members of religious orders and believers
          belonging to unofficial religious organizations . China is a State governed by
          the rule of law. Chinese law protects freedom of religion and no one may be
          arrested or detained for his religious beliefs. Believers and non-believers are
          equal before the law. In the punishment of criminals, Chinese courts act
          according to the law, whether the persons concerned are believers or not and
          whether or not they practise a religion of any kind. Believers, including
          clergy, are punished if they carry on illegal activities that have nothing to do
          with religion or if they commit crimes under cover of religion. In present-day
          society, there is no country whose law blindly protects citizens who carry on
          criminal activities simply on the pretext of practising their religion.
          4. Banning religious figures who have served sentences for “counter-
          revolutionary activities” from entering places of worship . The Chinese
          Government imposes no restrictions that would have the effect of preventing
          religious figures from entering places of worship, and it has never prohibited
          convicts who have served their sentence from entering places of worship.
          However, some religious organizations, out of concern for their prestige and
          their reputation, decide that anyone who has been convicted of breaking the law
          automatically loses his religious status and that the competent religious bodies
          must review and attest to the fact that he has been rehabilitated after having
          served his sentence.
          As regards the quality of religious education, all religious organizations
          attach importance to the teaching of religion and to raising the educational
          level of their followers. All educational institutions with religious
          affiliations determine the duration of their students' religious studies. This
          varies from a period of two to three years to a period of four to six years.
          Short-term training courses are also offered.
          5. Posting, publication and distribution of texts on freedom of religion . The
          Chinese Government attaches great importance to the publicity that must be given
          to laws, regulations and policies concerning freedom of religion. For instance,
          the People's Daily , the most widely read daily newspaper in the country,
          published in extenso the two administrative regulations adopted by the State
          Council in 1994. The Council's Office of Religious Affairs also published
          70,000 copies of the two texts. In collaboration with the review Legal System ,
          the Office also writes a specialized column in the People's Daily and in one
          year published more than 50 essays familiarizing readers with the regulations
          and discussing their implementation. The Policies and Regulations Department of
          the Office of Religious Affairs of the State Council has, with the help of the
          ministerial services concerned, compiled and published a selection of documents
          on religion, comprising texts published in earlier years. Throughout the
          country, local authorities also distribute the texts of laws and policies and
          publicize legal provisions. The Government intends to continue such activities
          in order to increase familiarity with the laws and policies in force concerning
          freedom of religion.
        
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Freedom of Religion