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NIGERIA – LIMITS ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

ON VISIT TO U.S., A NIGERIAN WITCH-HUNTER EXPLAINS HERSELF

Article 18, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads: Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.  This article is about a popular Nigerian Pentecostal preacher who alleges that the state infringes on her freedom of religion by adopting a law against accusing children of witchcraft. She is seeking a restraining order from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire. Her critics say her teachings have contributed to the torture or abandonment of thousands of Nigerian children including infants and toddlers accused of being witches and warlocks. This story draws attention to the complexity of the cultural and traditional beliefs in witches and witchcraft in the context of human rights.  It tests the will of Nigerian politicians to implement the law they have adopted against accusing children of witchcraft, and apply this law and international human rights law to prevent the manifestation of a religion or belief to protect the safety, health and fundamental rights and freedoms of others. 

PROPOSAL: The Tandem Project invites organizations within and outside of Nigeria to an Exchange of Information (below) on ways Nigeria can to protect the right to freedom of religion or belief while preventing manifestation of such beliefs when they violate international human rights law. Invitations will be extended to United States organizations, such as the organization in Houston, to propose ways to implement inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights on freedom of religion or belief as a follow-up to the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review and preparation for the United States of America Universal Periodic Review. The Tandem Project lists of organizations are randomly selected to promote awareness, understanding and use of international human rights instruments on freedom of religion or belief. Exchanges of Information are protected by The Tandem Project privacy policy.

Preface – The First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Surely one of the best hopes for humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.

There is an increase in dialogue today between religions and other beliefs to embrace diversity, but few persons, less than one percent of any population, ever participate. This is a challenge. The value of such dialogues is proportionate to the level of participation. For civil society increased participation would create opportunities for education on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief. 

 In 1968 the United Nations deferred passage of a legally-binding convention on religious intolerance saying it was too complicated and sensitive. Instead, they adopted a non-binding declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. While very worthwhile, the declaration does not carry the force and commitment of a legally-binding international human rights convention on freedom of religion or belief.

Religions and other beliefs historically have been used to justify wars and settle disputes. This is more dangerous today as the possible misuse of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction increases. Governments need to revisit whether religions and other beliefs trump human rights or human rights trump religions and other beliefs or neither trumps the other; whether culture trumps the universal or universal rights sensitively and with respect trumps culture in the face of this historical truth.



On a Visit to U.S., a Nigerian Witch-Hunter Explains Herself

Review:  On a Visit to the U.S., a Nigerian Witch-Hunter Explains Herself, New York Times, May 22, 2010; Beliefs, by Mark Oppenheimer.

Excerpts: HOUSTON: At home in Nigeria, the Pentecostal preacher Helen Ukpabio draws thousands to her revival meetings. Last August, when she had herself consecrated Christendom’s first “lady apostle,” Nigerian politicians and Nollywood actors attended the ceremony. Her books and DVDs, which explain how Satan possesses children, are widely known. So well-known, in fact, that Ms. Ukpabio’s critics say her teachings have contributed to the torture or abandonment of thousands of Nigerian children — including infants and toddlers — suspected of being witches and warlocks. Her culpability is a central contention of “Saving Africa’s Witch Children,” a documentary that made its American debut Wednesday on HBO2. Those disturbed by the needless immiseration of innocent children should beware. “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” follows Gary Foxcroft, founder of the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, as he travels the rural state of Akwa Ibom, rescuing children abused during horrific “exorcisms” — splashed with acid, buried alive, dipped in fire — or abandoned roadside, cast out of their villages because some itinerant preacher called them possessed.

Since “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” was first shown in Britain, in 2008, Mr. Itauma’s home state has adopted a law against accusing children of witchcraft. But Ms. Ukpabio went on the offensive by suing the state government, Mr. Foxcroft, Mr. Itauma and Leo Igwe, a Nigerian antisuperstition activist. In the lawsuit, Ms. Ukpabio alleges that the state law infringes on her freedom of religion. She seeks 2 billion naira (about $13 million) in damages, as well as “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents” from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s “right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire.” In other words, in the name of religious freedom, Ms. Ukpabio seeks a gag order on anyone who disagrees with her.
The lawsuit also reiterates Ms. Ukpabio’s contention that Stepping Stones Nigeria and Mr. Itauma’s school are not charities but extortionate front organizations. According to Ms. Ukpabio, Mr. Foxcroft and Mr. Itauma aim not to educate abandoned children but “to use the said funds to blackmail.”  “We’re a registered charity in the U. K., so we publish our accounts,” said Mr. Foxcroft by phone in England. “She can come in and see how much money we raised and where we spend it.”

The Killing of Witches and Witchcraft

Review:  The Killing of Witches and Witchcraft is a complex and sensitive phenomenon in Ghana as it is in other countries. Ghana is one of eight countries in a survey on the killing of witches for a report to the eleventh session of the UN Human Rights Council (June 2009) in this report by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/11session/A.HRC.11.2.pdf

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – Philip Alston, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council eleventh session (A/HRC/11/2) was criticized by members of the UN Human Rights Council who claimed the Killing of Witches it did not fall within his mandate as established by the UN Human Rights Council Code of Conduct for Special Procedures (another claim he has extended his mandate has been over the issue of the State and capital punishment). There is tension in the Council on the balance between the independence of UN Special Rapporteurs to report on human rights subjects they feel must to be brought to the attention of the UN Human Rights Council on violations within a country, and more strict control under the code of conduct on what they can write by some on the UN Human Rights Council.

Excerpts:  In Nigeria, a civil society organization, the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network work primarily with what it claims to be a large and increasing number of children abandoned or persecuted on the grounds that they are witches or wizards.

The relevance of the practice of witchcraft to human rights is clearly a complex matter, and it is not possible to do justice to it within the confines of a report of this nature. Perhaps the most appropriate starting point is to examine the contexts in which attention has been brought to the human rights consequences of the phenomenon in recent years. Any such survey is inevitably incomplete, but it can nevertheless provide an insight into the nature of the challenges that need to be addressed.”

The persecution and killing of individuals accused of practicing so-called “witchcraft” – the vast majority of who are women and children-is a significant phenomenon in many parts of the world, although it has not featured prominently on the radar screen of human rights monitors. This may be due partly to the difficulty of defining “witches” and “witchcraft” across cultures-traditional or faith healing practices and are not easily defined. The fact remains, however, that under the rubric of the amorphous and manipulability designation of witchcraft, individuals (often those who are somehow different, feared or disliked) are singled out for arbitrary private acts of violence or for Government-sponsored or tolerated acts of violence. In too many settings, being classified as a witch is tantamount to receiving a death sentence.

While there has been a steady trickle of reports from civil society groups alleging the persecution and killing of persons accused of being witches, the problem has never been addressed systematically in the context of human rights…A prominent exception is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which acknowledges in its guidelines that women are still identified as witches in some communities and burned or stoned to death. These practices may be culturally condoned in the claimant’s community of origin but still amount to persecution.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

Review: Report: Report on Country Visit to Ghana (A/HRC/7/6/Add.3) by UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Erturk.
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/7session/A.HRC.7.6.Add.3.doc

The formal State institutions coexist with a customary system of traditional authorities. While traditional authorities are also fully bound by Ghana’s international commitments to gender equality to the extent that they exercise public power, they tend to favour respect for local custom over gender equality. Customary law, which is constitutionally recognized as a source of law, discriminates against women, especially in relation to questions of inheritance and property.

Violence against women remains widespread and some groups of women are particularly vulnerable. The girl child may be sexually abused in the family, subjected to early or child marriage or exploited as a kayaye (porter) or domestic worker. Female genital mutilation and the ritual servitude of trokosi also remain prevalent in some parts of the country, even though these practices have been criminalized and are on the decrease. Women accused of witchcraft are often violently driven from their communities and forced to take refuge in “witch camps”. Many widows are subjected to violent evictions from their homes and loss of inheritance, leaving them destitute.

Excerpts: There are many cases, in which women - and occasionally men - are accused of practicing witchcraft to bring harm to members of their family or community.  63.  Belief in supernatural forces is deeply rooted in Ghanaian culture and still widely held, especially in rural areas and among the less educated. Being accused of practicing witchcraft is therefore a very serious charge that can have grave consequences. Accused women are often driven violently from their homes and communities, physically assaulted and, in extreme cases, also murdered. 64. Despite its serious ramifications, an accusation of witchcraft can be easily triggered. A community member may dream that a certain woman is a witch or an adverse event occurs in the community that cannot be explained, such as a suspicious or unexpected death of a community member. Negative human sentiments such as jealousy or the desire to find a scapegoat are also at the base of witchcraft allegations. In some cases, witchcraft allegations seem to be deliberately directed at women who are successful and are seen as a threat to the patriarchal order. 65.            Therefore, while any woman can potentially be accused of being a witch, the victims of those accusations who suffer the most serious consequences are almost always elderly women, who lack family protection and do not have the power to defend themselves against their accusers. 66.     Violence against women branded as witches is reported from all regions, but the issue is more visible in the north due to the existence of so-called “witches’ camps”. This misleading term refers to settlements established with the consent of the local community, where women accused of witchcraft can seek refuge and protection from persecution by their own community or family. In that sense, a witches’ camp is a protection mechanism comparable to a women’s shelter. In some cases, family members may also join the accused at the witches’ camp.

Center for the Study of Law and Religion; African Cultural Practices

Study of Law and Religion, Emory University: http://www.law.emory.edu/index.php?id=1570/

The Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University is home to world-class scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. The Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) sponsored a conference in April 30-May 3, 2008, in Durban, South Africa. “The conference discovered that when discussing religion in Africa, the immediate challenge is defining the word “religion,” because its meaning is tangled in colonial imposition of western definitions upon African cultural practices.

The conference proposes from an international human rights perspective to “identify ongoing and future problem areas relating to the relationship between church and state and the interaction of religion and law in the various regions and countries of the world.” If defining the word “religion” is difficult because it imposes western definitions upon African cultural practices alternatives to languages might be structured that would accommodate international human rights, the Constitutions and traditional African cultural practices in these countries at local levels.”

Excerpts: Another subject that contributes to the religious confusion is a widespread belief in witchcraft. The problem lies in the debate between whether or not witchcraft should be treated as religion or mere superstition.  If witchcraft is considered a religion, should it be protected? Would it be constitutional for self-proclaimed witches and wizards to practice their religion, even if in some cases it involves violation of others’ rights?

The subject matter is sensitive and raises the question, as one Liberian conference participant described, of “traditional beliefs and practices versus the rule of law.” Phrased differently, “how does one install respects for the rule of law where the law prohibits deeply rooted belief structures and traditional practices?” The ultimate goal, according to several participants in the conference, is cultivation of a human rights ethos that can be instilled into traditional African communities without compromising pride in their original identity.

The conference discovered that when discussing religion in Africa, the immediate challenge is defining the word “religion,” because its meaning is tangled in colonial imposition of western definitions upon African cultural practices. “When dealing with African customary institutions, use of the word ‘religion’ is forbidden,” said Van der Vyver, I.T. Cohen Professor of International Law and Human Rights.

Many African traditional practices are misunderstood or mislabeled because of a perceived similarity to clearly defined religious activities in other parts of the world.  What many might misleadingly call “ancestral worship” may actually be better defined as “homage to the forefathers,” which is the ritual of appealing to the ancestors for help in a range of areas, from protection from natural disasters to bringing happiness.”

Deadly Nigerian Religious Clashes Kill Hundreds

Review: Deadly Nigerian Religious Clashes Kill Hundreds, New York Times, by Lydia Polgreen, 1 December 2008.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/world/africa/01nigeria.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print

Excerpt:Despite the history of religious bloodshed in the region, residents, officials and activists said the city had come a long way toward healing divisions. Interfaith commissions set up to improve relations between the faiths and ethnic groups after the 2001 riots appeared to help cool tensions. ‘Things had really improved in Jos,’ said Nankin Bagudu, a Christian and state government commissioner who had worked with the League for Human Rights. ‘Nobody expected violence this time.’ Mr. Saleh, a Muslim, said that the violence threatened to undo years of careful bridge building between the communities. ‘As someone who had been involved in a peace work between Christians and Muslims, this has set our work back 10 years,’ he said. ‘It will take us a very long time to rebuild the confidence.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Visit to Nigeria

Report: UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Nigeria
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G05/160/41/PDF/G0516041.pdf?OpenElement

Follow-up: UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Visit to Nigeria http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/docs/followup/FU-Nigeria.pdf

From 27 February to 7 March 2005, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, carried out a visit to Nigeria at her request and further to an invitation from the Government of Nigeria. During her visit, the Special Rapporteur noted that tensions and lack of understanding between Muslim and Christian communities, which had been so far contained and confined to certain areas, had aggravated in recent years. In particular, the adoption of criminal law based on Sharia by a number of northern states since 1999 has provoked negative reactions among members of the non-Muslim communities, although only Muslims are subject to these legal systems. Moreover, while economic, political and other factors contribute to such tensions, they have often led to polarization along religious lines. For these reasons, the Special Rapporteur is of the opinion that the level of enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief is not satisfactory. Moreover, she is concerned that the increase in religious tensions may further hamper the enjoyment of this right among the Nigerian
population.

Excerpts:With regard to the general policy of the Government of Nigeria vis-à-vis religion and belief, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government adopt a more careful  approach when it comes to supporting one or the other religious community and consider the possibility of refraining from interfering with religious matters whenever these do not endanger human rights. At the same time, the Government should take very firm positions whenever religion is at the origin of human rights violations, regardless of which religious community is concerned. The Government should further strengthen the existing inter-religious dialogue to address the overall objective of promoting religious tolerance, and therefore extend the scope of the dialogue and increase the number of stakeholders in the process. Such initiatives must link local dialogues to the national scene so that signs of trouble are detected early and resolved before violence breaks out. Such dialogue would further create better understanding and accommodation. It must include women and members of civil society so that their concerns are also heard. The Government should also take concrete steps to strengthen the education system throughout Nigeria in order for children to receive teaching on religious tolerance. The Government should reassess its position with regard to traditional religions as well as other forms of religion or belief. Adherents of traditional religions should be given a place in the mainstream policy and be represented in institutions and other forums that deal with religious matters.

With respect to religious tensions and communal violence, the Special Rapporteur is of the opinion that the obligation of the Government of Nigeria is first and foremost to ensure that justice is done promptly and properly. This obligation should include a full investigation of the violence that occurred, including the identification and prosecution of alleged perpetrators, allowing victims to file proper claims for the damage they have suffered, and recognizing their proper status as victims in trials as well as awarding them appropriate compensation. The Government should also abide by its basic obligation to ensure the protection and security of religious groups which may be targeted and which should be entitled to practice their religions freely and without any obstacles, including those created by non-State actors. The Government should reassess the efficiency of its mechanisms in order to be able to intervene in a timely and proper manner when such violence occurs. The mechanisms created by the Government to promote interreligious dialogue should be strengthened and extended. In particular, they should ensure that religious leaders of all communities can participate and involve the civil society. Mechanisms at the local level should be created in as many places as may require them because of the composition of the population, past experience, or any other indication of possible religious tensions. The Government should also increase its support for such initiatives coming from the civil society and disseminate principles of good practice.


THE TANDEM PROJECT
http://www.tandemproject.com.
info@tandemproject.com
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

NIGERIA
Fourth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (2-13 February, 2009)

THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW 

The Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria was held from 2:30 –5:30 on Monday 9 February 2009 on the Live OHCHR Web cast. . Click on the links below to access reports for the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks. 
Live HRC Web Cast: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/NGSession4.aspx

http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090209

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of all UN Member States by 2011. Click for an Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review, Process and News:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BasicFacts.aspx

Article 18: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief

1. 1 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practices and teaching. 1. 2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice. 1. 3 Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/9a30112c27d1167cc12563ed004d8f15?Opendocument

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: http://www.tandemproject.com/program/81_dec.htm.

THE TANDEM PROJECT FOLLOW-UP

The Tandem Project Follow-up builds on twenty-seven Community Strategies, action proposals by organizations in 1986 to implement Article 18 of the CCPR and the 1981 UN Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

These Community Strategies are consolidated for The Tandem Project Follow-up into three generic proposals on integration, dialogue and education for Universal Periodic Reviews and exchange of information worldwide with organizations on international, national and local levels.

1. Develop model integrated approaches to International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief at national and local levels to test the reality of implementation as appropriate to the constitutions, legal systems and cultures of each country.

2. Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as appropriate to each culture and venue for inclusive and genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief. 

3. Apply International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief in education curricula as appropriate in all grade levels, teaching children, from the very beginning, that their own religion is one out of many and it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.

The Tandem Project Follow-up Recommendations for the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review include implementation of these three consolidated proposals and an exchange of ideas with other organizations on what they consider to be inclusive and genuine approaches to implementing international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief.  See list of organizations in Exchange of Information below.

The Nigeria population of 149 million is estimated to be 50 percent Muslim, 50 percent Christian and 10 percent indigenous beliefs. The predominant form of Islam in the North is Sunni with an emerging Shia minority, and in the South a growing number of Christian evangelicals and Pentecostals. Nigeria in 1986 joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Nigeria has Sharia Law in six states in the North that applies to Muslim personal law. The code of criminal law is secular.

Nigeria has experienced outbreaks of inter-religious, inter-ethnic conflict in recent years the most recent a mid-January clash in the city of Jos that left more than 300 dead and thousands displaced according to the police. Nigeria has been placed on a terrorist watch list by the U.S. since a failed attack in Detroit on a U.S. plane. Nigerians describe it “as unfair as Nigeria’s sects mainly target their own” according to an Economist article.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendations by the UN Human Right Council relating to
human rights and freedom or religion or belief include:

Inter-Active Dialogue with UN Member States included the following recommendations: (Turkey, Algeria and Chad) welcomed the convening of a National Consultative Forum and suggested it become an annual event. (France) congratulated Nigeria on the creation of a National Inter-religious Council and Institute to promote inter-religious, inter-communal understanding. The (Holy See) referred to children stigmatized as “witches” or “wizards” and commended Nigeria for the recent law to end this practice – recommending Nigeria apply this law vigorously.

Take urgent steps to prevent politically motivated and sectarian and religious-based violence (Canada);

Within the framework of its national Inter-Religious Council and the Institute for Peace and Conflict, continue its commendable efforts in promoting the inter-ethnic, inter-communal and inter-religious harmony (Botswana); Expand programmes of education on religious tolerance in schools and monitor and protect the rights of religious minorities promotion of the culture of religious tolerance should become the priority of the Federal, State and Local Governments (Poland); End discrimination against ethnic minorities to ensure that non-Muslims are not subjected to Sharia law and are able to practice their own religion without hindrance (Denmark).

Nigeria responding to UN Human Rights Council questions said the National Human Right Commission bill will “be given expeditious treatment” and reforms will include human rights education for officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and other law enforcement agencies.

The Tandem Project Follow-up Recommendations focus on an exchange of information with government and non-governmental organizations in Nigeria on how international standards on human rights and freedom of religion or belief can be implemented at national and local levels as identified by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This includes an exchange of information in Nigeria on the controversial resolution on defamation of religion in the UN General Assembly approved by Nigeria as a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference: Vote on Defamation of Religions

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

PROPOSAL: For an Exchange of Information on the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief with; Stakeholders, National Human Rights Commission or Nigeria, Lutheran Church of Nigeria, Other Religions in Nigeria, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Stepping Stones Nigeria, Liberty Gospel Nigeria, Pentecostals USA, Member States asking Questions for the Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria, National and Local Governments in Nigeria, Akwa-Ibom State, Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Network NGO, CAIRN of the U.K, Public Conversations Project, Global Health Ministries, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University

The Tandem Project lists of organizations are randomly selected to promote awareness, understanding and use of international human rights instruments on freedom of religion or belief. Exchanges of Information are protected by The Tandem Project privacy policy. Organizations and individuals can unsubscribe by opening info@tandemproject.com, and typing unsubscribe.
The Tandem Projects requests organizations to complete the Survey Questionnaire below on indicators of inclusive and genuine approaches to freedom of religion or belief. Other lists of organizations such as schools, religions, places of worship, NGOs, media, etc, for other Universal Periodic Review countries will be asked for an Exchange of Information from time to time.

OPEN QUESTIONNAIRE

Results from this Questionnaire will be used in follow-up recommendations on UN Member States Universal Periodic Reviews, and reports to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), for protection against all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

The Tandem Project sends individual e-mail requests to organizations asking for an Exchange of Information on ways they would implement inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief in the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review.  The Universal Periodic Review process includes all 198 UN Member States, and is a reason why the UN Human Rights Council should consider drafting a convention on freedom of religion or belief to give a bigger platform, staff support and strength to what was intended in 1968 to be a core international human rights treaty

UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Religion or Belief have made thirty Country Visits since 1987.  Their excellent follow-up conclusions and recommendations (see Nigeria Followup above) should be reviewed and implemented as part of each Universal Periodic Review country they have visited.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Source: US State Department 2009 International Religious Freedom Report; Nigeria
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127249.htm

Links to State Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the State Department’s main website is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.