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21 February 2024, 09:56

Belarus calls on UNHRC to refrain from biased assessment of religious situation

MINSK, 21 February (BelTA) - Belarus urged the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to refrain from biased assessments of the religious situation in the country, runs the press release of the Belarusian Permanent Mission to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva in connection with the statement of the UNHRC special procedures regarding the law of the Republic of Belarus “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”, BelTA has learned.

The statement published on 20 February by a number of special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council expresses concern about the amendments to the Belarusian legislation on freedom of conscience and activities of religious organizations.

In this regard, the Permanent Mission stated that Belarus had not applied to the special procedures of the UNHRC on the issue of analyzing the national legislation regulating public relations in the religious sector.

“Assessments of the Belarusian legislation in the religious sector by special procedures are controversial and biased, formulated in the traditional vein of indiscriminate criticism of the situation in Belarus and the domestic policy of the Belarusian authorities. We consider them as an unambiguous interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” the statement reads.

The statement notes that Belarus has many years of successful experience in ensuring inter-confessional peace and harmony in the country with the presence of 25 confessions and religious movements, more than 3,500 religious organizations registered in accordance with the law. 

The law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” was updated as part of an open intra-national dialogue with the participation of representatives of national and local religious associations.

The law, which will come into force in July 2024, takes into account modern approaches to the interaction of the state with religious organizations and the proposals of their representatives. The novelties are aimed at suppressing and preventing propaganda of war; destructive activities aimed at undermining civil harmony in society; spreading hostility on racial, religious or national grounds.

“The relevant provisions of the law do not contradict the international obligations of the Republic of Belarus and are justified against the background of the growth of extremism and incitement to religious hatred observed in the European region. The law expands the opportunities for religious organizations to address a variety of vital issues, including the provision of social services to certain categories of the most vulnerable citizens, including the disabled, the elderly, and orphans. The interaction between the state and religious organizations in religious education and property relations has been streamlined,” the Permanent Mission noted.

According to the statement, the Belarusian legislation ensures and guarantees the rights of citizens to freedom of conscience and religion, while state bodies at all levels support initiatives of religious organizations aimed at ensuring dialogue between faiths on the basis of respect for human rights and religious tolerance, interfaith and intercultural harmony.

“In this regard, we call on the special procedures of the UNHRC to refrain from biased assessments of the situation in the religious sector of Belarus and actions that contradict the principles of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of issues related to human rights,” the statement reads.
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