Pakistan makes this statement on behalf of OIC.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice and reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence has covered aspects of transitional justice including the importance of truth commissions, criminal justice system and reparation programmes in his report.
Dispensation of justice regardless of considerations for race, religion, caste, colour or creed is a core ingredient of Islam. Quran says:“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor…” (Quran 4:135). OIC attached great importance to the concept of justice, which was the theme for 13th Islamic Summit held in Istanbul last year.
We take note of the report of the new Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion and belief, which presents his perspective and vision for his mandate. He refers to misperceptions and misconceptions about his mandate, whereas, we view them as varied interpretations owing to the rich cultural and religious diversity of our world.
The Special Rapporteur has asserted in paragraph 24 of his report that FORB is not designed to protect beliefs but rather individual believers, but is it possible to separate the two. He goes on by including under the purview of FORB, the protection of believer’s freedom to possess and express their beliefs either individually or in community. But what if his beliefs expressed in a community lead to violence or incite hatred against other individuals with different set of beliefs? This proves that firstly beliefs are important, whether held by an individual or a community and secondly expression of an individual’s belief can have serious consequences for the entire community.
We believe that States have the primary responsibility for promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people, thus impartial and transparent national legal frameworks preventing against incitement to violence and hate speech in any form or manifestation, whether online or offline, are essential and in conformity with international law.
The Special Rapporteur has stated in his report that Individuals have the right to publicly manifest their religion or belief, alone or together with others, but when they express their collective convictions with other members of faith they assume the form of a religious group and should be entitled to collective group rights in addition to their individual rights as group members. This implies that FORB also covers groups in addition to individuals.
The OIC has been proactively engaged in building bridges between various communities and spreading the message of inter-faith harmony. Our resolution 16/18 and Istanbul Process reflect our collective approach towards ensuring freedom of religion and belief for building tolerant societies. The eight point action plan of 16/18 resolution is a package and must be implemented in its entirety. Selectivity and cherry picking from amongst the measures outlined in action plan will be counter-productive.
We need to counter hate and defamatory speech as it poses the biggest threat to both freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression. Owing to the institutionalization of discrimination through populist electoral politics in many parts of the world, we request the Special Rapporteur to undertake a much more detailed study of this issue in his next report and outline practical steps to counter this rising trend with increasing manifestations of violent extremism, particularly in the developed world.
I thank you.