Passing of ‘Defamation of Religions’ Resolution a Disappointment | Freedom House

Passing of ‘Defamation of Religions’ Resolution a Disappointment

Washington

Freedom House is disappointed that the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday voted in favor of a resolution, “Combating defamation of religions,” which has dangerous implications for freedom of expression and other human rights.
 
The non-binding resolution is a cosmetically modified version of similar resolutions that have long been condemned by human rights groups and yet have continued to pass at both the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly.  Ostensibly intended to promote “social harmony” and religious tolerance, the resolutions call on governments to ban speech considered offensive to some religious believers. Though continuing to pass, the resolution has gradually begun to lose support. This year, the resolution passed by a vote of 76 to 64 with 42 abstentions, compared to last year’s Third Committee vote of 81 to 55 with 43 abstentions.
 
“We are disappointed that this pernicious resolution has passed yet again, despite strong evidence that legal measures to restrict speech are both ineffective and a direct violation of freedom of expression,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.  “We nonetheless appreciate the declining support for such resolutions and hope that more states will vote against the resolution at the full General Assembly.”
 
Freedom House recently released a report that details the implications of domestic laws against religious “defamation,” which are frequently used to repress religious minorities, restrict the ability of Muslims to practice their faith the way they choose, and to settle personal grudges. The full General Assembly is expected to vote on the resolution in December.
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.  
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.