Presentation of the “Freedom of Religion and Belief” (FORB) world report

Presentation of the “Freedom of Religion and Belief” (FORB) world report

The topic of freedom of religion or belief has again been discussed in the European Parliament. Human Rights without Frontiers, a renown NGO actively advocating in the field of freedom of religion and belief has presented on 23 April 2013 it’s report on the subject, in a conference presided by the Vice President of European Parliament, Mr. Laszlo Surjan.

Soteria International has attended the event, which impressed by the quality of the presented report and also by the number and variety of the audience. The report did steer some controversy, inevitable, as we have noticed, when the issue of religion is touched upon in the context of human rights. The alarming number of incidents, especially among representatives of various religions, strengthens evermore the message of Soteria International: the need for a strong emphasis on spiritual stratum of religions, which will set a unifying ground for dialogue and solutions to peaceful co-existence. Institutionalization of religions and use of the religious discourse for political purpose, will only conduct to more flaming contradictions.

The report did not include the situation in the EU countries, where, indeed, violations do not reach alarming levels of abuse. Soteria International would like to stress that such violations do take place nonetheless and need to be addressed, not in the least to avoid double standards. We have raised several times the deficient situation with freedom of belief in Romania, which were largely ignored by the national state, and abuses against spiritual practitioners continue.

This information has been brought to the attention of Human Rights without Frontiers, which continues to collect information on abuses on religious and spiritual practitioners for its further investigation and reporting.

The synthesis of the current report is presented below, quoting the newsletter of Human Rights without Frontiers (

A World Report about Freedom of Religion or Belief: the right to change religion, freedom of expression, association, worship and assembly

In a report presented today at the European Parliament, the Brussels-based NGO

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l lists a number of Muslim and (former) Communist countries of particular concern

Press Release

HRWF (23.04.2013) - According to a 142-page report of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l two main categories of states - Muslim countries and Communist or former Communist countries - have put in place a constitutional and legislative framework restricting the fundamentals of religious freedom or belief: the freedom to believe or not believe and the freedom to change religion, as well as the freedom to express one's religion or one's beliefs whether individually or collectively, in the public sphere or in private.

"If countries punish the legitimate exercise of freedom of religion or belief by death or heavy prison terms or deterrent exorbitant fines of sometimes up to 100 times the minimum monthly salary, such countries must be named publicly, held accountable and urged by the international community, including the EU institutions, to revise their constitution, their laws and their practices," the director of HRWF Int'l, Willy Fautré, said during the presentation of the book at the European Parliament on 23rd April.

This report aims to facilitate NGOs' advocacy and the human rights dialogues between the EU and third countries. It is divided into several parts. The first three parts identify and analyse a number of constitutional and legislative provisions which restrict freedom of religion or belief in some problematic countries, in particular:

(1) freedom to change religion or belief: Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Malaysia, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen;

(2) freedom of expression within the framework of freedom of religion or belief: Afghanistan, Algeria, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Maldives, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan;

(3) freedom of association worship and assembly: Azerbaijan, China, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Laos, North Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

The fourth part addresses the issue of freedom of religion or belief from another angle. It lists ten countries (Azerbaijan, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan) which made themselves conspicuous in 2012 by a very high number of incidents related to freedom of religion or belief on various grounds: repressive governmental policies, social hostility and inter-ethnic or inter-communal tensions. These countries were selected on the basis of data collected by HRWF Int'l from numerous public and private sources. Many concrete examples support this choice and illustrate the different facets of the identified violations. They are also contextualized and analysed.

The report is completed by a nominative and detailed prisoners list which identifies 18 countries with FORB prisoners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nagorno-Karabakh, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

In its final remarks, Fautré said "The policies of death or of forced emigration in an ever increasing number of countries is currently leading to some sort of rampant religious cleansing: countries purified of Christians, of Jews, of Muslims, of Ahmadis, of Baha'is...where questions concerning the treatment of religious minorities and the preservation of religious diversity will no longer be relevant in the future."

And he concluded with a question "The emergence of homogeneous, purified religious blocks challenging each other over their differences threatens to lead the world to the much dreaded clash of civilizations. Is it the world that we want?"

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact HRWF Int'l: +3223456145 -

The reports can be ordered at

Freedom of Religion or Belief World Report 2012 (142 p)

Freedom of Religion or Belief Prisoners List/ World Report 2012 (90 p)