United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

23 October 1996



General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 110 (b)


            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.


                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................     1 - 6     3


III.  DEVELOPMENT OF A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE ................    21 - 24    5

      SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ............    25 - 46    6

 V.   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......................    47 - 60   10


 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

                               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. Angelo 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


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
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

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 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.


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, Co^te 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.

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


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. 2/

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 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

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.

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).  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,

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), 5 have
replied:  Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco and

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.

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.


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 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

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".

55.  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.

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.


     1/  Paragraphs 14 and 15 of General Assembly resolution 50/183 read as

         ["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.

                                    ANNEX I


                                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.
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.
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.
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.


                                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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.


                                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.
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

           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.
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.

                                   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.

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

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 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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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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