Clustered ID with the WG on disappearances and the SR on freedom of religion or belief
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Geneva, 1 March 2012
Statement by Austria
Thank you Mme President.
Austria attaches great importance to the respect of freedom of religion or belief which constitutes one of our thematic priorities during our membership in the Council.
We are deeply concerned about growing discrimination and the rising number of violent attacks against members of religious minorities and their places of worship in many parts of the world. In order to promote and create a peaceful environment with regard to religious freedom and belief, the issue of recognition is of utmost importance. Therefore, Austria welcomes this year’s focus of your report.
We share your assessment that it is important to clearly distinguish different meanings within the above-mentioned concept in order to avoid possible misunderstandings which could negatively affect the implementation of freedom of religion or belief or even undermine its status as a universal human right.
With regard to the issue of privileged status positions for certain religious or belief communities, we believe that people who have chosen a religion that differs from the majority need particular protection. In addition, we fully support your idea that States should ensure that no religious community has, de jure or de facto, the possibility to exercise a veto or otherwise influence the decision to register or not to register another religious or belief group.
In your report, you have stated that States should offer appropriate options for religious or belief communities to achieve the status of legal personality at domestic level. Have you identified good practices examples in this regard which you can share with us?
Finally, we would like to thank you for the in-depth analysis and reiterate our support to your mandate. During the High-Level Segment last week, we have organized a side event on "Rising Restrictions on Freedom of Religion or Belief" which aimed at leading an open dialogue on the protection of the right of freedom of religion or belief and possible additional efforts the UN’s human rights system could undertake to foster its universal enjoyment. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to the issue.
Please allow me to express our deepest appreciation for the important work of the working group on enforced disappearances. We are concerned by the working
group’s finding of a continuous pattern of threats, intimidation and reprisals against victims of enforced disappearances, including family members, witnesses and human rights defenders working on cases of disappearances.
Austria welcomes the important standard setting work of the working group this year cumulating in the adoption of a general comment, which concluded that enforced disappearance represents a paradigmatic violation of the right to be recognized as a person before the law. We would welcome if you could further elaborate on the content of the general comment. In addition, we would be very interested to learn more about your cooperation with the committee on enforced disappearances.
I thank you.