At the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Rapporteur Mr. Valeriu Ghiletchi proposed the members of the Assembly coming from the 47 countries a Resolution and a Recommendation for “The protection of the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities”.
After having conducted very intense debates at the very Committee of Equality and No discrimination of the Council of Europe, both the resolution and also the recommendation have been finally approved by the Assembly, and as it couldn’t be otherwise after his work and his last speech, Mr. Ghiletchi was applauded for his tenacity and courage by all present in the Assembly at the end of the votation.
Mr. Ghiletchi was assigned as Rapporteur by the ¨Committee on Equality and No discrimination of the PACE after a motion for resolution (N ° 13333) in which it explains that:
“The Assembly finds that new religious movements and religious minorities are especially at risk regarding the infringement of these rights by some member States.
Derogatory labeling of religious minorities as ‘sects’, ‘sectarian’, ‘cults’ or any other term generates bias and stigmatization and lead to undue restrictions to a parent’s right to raise and educate their children in conformity with their own beliefs.
The Assembly therefore resolves to study and identify cases where member States do not respect the rights of parents to educate children according to their own religious and philosophical convictions, especially with regard to minorities”.
After that he prepared his report during two years and finally came up with this Resolution and Recommendation to encourage the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to protect these fundamental rights.
The Resolution 2163, which has now been approved last 27 of April 2017 at the Second Session of the Plenary Assembly, invites the member states to protect the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities adopting practical measures, legislative or of any other kind, to:
• Affirm the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all individuals, including the right not to adhere to any religion, and protect the right of all not to be compelled to perform actions that go against their deeply held moral or religious beliefs, while ensuring that access to services lawfully provided is maintained and the right of others to be free from discrimination is protected;
• Promote reasonable accommodation of the deeply held moral or religious beliefs of all individuals in cases of serious conflict to enable citizens to freely manifest their religion or belief in private or in public, within the limits defined by legislation and provided that this is not detrimental to the rights of others;
• Repeal any law or rule which establishes a discriminatory distinction between religious minorities and majority beliefs;
• Ensure easy-to-implement options for children or parents to obtain exemptions from compulsory State religious education programmes that are in conflict with their deeply held moral or religious beliefs; such options may include non-confessional teaching of religion, providing information on a plurality of religions, and ethics programmes.
At the Recommendation 2101, which was laso approved by the Assembly, the PACE asks the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (which is formed by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 47 member states) to:
Draw up guidelines on how member States should make effective reasonable accommodation of deeply held moral or religious beliefs of individuals, while ensuring respect for the rights of others.
The European Inter-religious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF), of which Iván Arjona is part of since 2014, cooperated with the Rapporteur Mr. Ghiletchi durin the time in which he was preparing the report and resolution, providing him with factual data about the subject of violations of parents and children rights by member states, obtained from many of the 47 countries that are part of the Council of Europe.
Additionally, members of EIFRF, as well as the Spanish Fundación Mejora also work other entities and members of different majority and minority religions, informing about the importance and necesita of this Resolution and Recommendation to the members of the parliaments of the different delegations such as the ones of Spain, Ukraine, San Marino, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and many others, in order to obtain the necessary support for this resolution that protects all citizens from potential interferences of the member states in the effective exercise of the religious freedom protected not only by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights but also the very European Convention on Human Rights.
“We have strongly supported this report, and are very happy to see that it has now been supported by the whole Assembly for the good of all children that belong to minority beliefs. We have worked with other civil society organizations and together we did the best we could to help the Assembly in that very important task of protecting fundamental rights “, said Eric Roux, President of the EIFRF.
Today was again a good day for Religious Freedom.