Freedom of Religion & Belief

  • In NEWS
  • December 15, 2014
Freedom of Religion & Belief
As a former Western diplomat in a Central Asian country, I can confirm the importance of the work the European Evangelical Alliance is doing in advocating at European Union level for the Freedom of Religion and Belief agenda. After the adoption at EU level of policies related to this issue, Embassies were requested to report to Headquarters and to take the matter up with the authorities. In my personal experience, this was indeed done on a regular basis. The Freedom of Religion & Belief (FORB) agenda had a high profile among EU and like minded embassies in the country I worked in. To mention just one case, I participated at a meeting between the EU (local EU Delegation and representatives of several Embassies of EU and likeminded countries) and high level representatives of the country´s Governmental religious affairs agency, at a moment in time when the authorities used regulatory instruments to curb religious freedom, in particular of Protestant Christian groups. At this meeting, a number of pertinent questions were asked and the concern of the EU about the violation of human rights in the field of religious freedom was repeatedly stated. The message passed on to the authorities about the importance of the matter to the EU was clear. Apart from general policy questions on FORB, the EU and likeminded countries also followed up closely the situation of specific cases where individuals (e.g. pastors) were targeted in contravention to EU principles on FORB. Those cases were repeatedly on the agenda of meetings between the EU and the authorities. My impression is that because FORB became a specific EU policy in its relations with the wider world, the local representations of the EU/ EU member states have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to call upon the authorities if violations take place. EEA knows the author of this article.

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