Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UN discussions on defamation of religion

16 September 2008 United Nations Human Rights Council ARTICLE 19, CIHRS and EIPR Host HRC Parallel Event on “defamation of religion and Freedom of expression in context”

ARTICLE 19, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHRS) and the Egyptian
Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) will host a parallel event to the 9th session
of the Human Rights Council on “Defamation of Religion and Freedom of
Expression in Context” at the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday 17
September from 11.00 to 13.00.
Speakers at this event will include Dr Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer, ARTICLE
19, Mr Hossam Bahgat, Director of EIPR, and Mr Moataz El Fegiery, Executive
Director of CIHRS. Each speaker will offer perspectives and approaches to current UN discussions on the subject of defamation of religion and the human right to freedom of expression.
In her presentation Dr Parmar will consider defamation of religion from the
perspective of international human rights law on the right to freedom of expression and on the protection against hate speech. In doing so, she will reflect the concerns raised by ARTICLE 19, CIHRS and EIPR in their Joint Statement submitted to the 9th session of the Human Rights Council on 11 September. The Joint Statement indicates that recent UN resolutions on “combating defamation of religion”: (1) seek to impose restrictions on freedom of expression which go beyond what is permitted under international law, in particular by seeking to protect religions, as such, from criticism rather than focusing on protecting individuals against defamation or hate speech; (2) are not tailored to addressing the very serious problems of discrimination
and intolerance, but focus instead on limiting criticism of religion; (3) are drafted in vague terms which leaves them open to being abused, to justify overly broad blasphemy laws for example.
ARTICLE 19, CIHRS and EIPR urge all States to vote against the adoption by UN bodies of future proposed resolutions on defamation of religion.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
· For more information: please contact Oliver Charles, oliver@article19.org +44 20 7278 9292
· The flyer to the parallel event is available at:
http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/unhrc-parallel-event.pdf
ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UQ
Tel: (+44) 20 7278 9292 / Fax: (+44) 20 7278 7660
Web: http://www.article19.org/ / Email: info@article19.org
· The Joint Statement of ARTICLE 19, CIHRS and EIPR submitted to the 9th session of the Human Rights Council is available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/unresolutions-on-combating-defamation-of-religions.pdf

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