Call for religious freedom on human rights day

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling for greater protection of religious freedom around the world.

The call coincides with Human Rights Day today. CSW said it wanted to see the increased global attention on religious freedom translated into action by the international community to protect and promote it.

CSW's Senior EU Advocate, Sofia Lemmetyinen, is today joining a panel including the Italian and Austrian foreign ministers, and the EU's Special Representative on human rights to discuss how the situation in conflict prone countries can be addressed through the promotion of freedom of religion or belief.

Last week, the UK and Canadian governments came together for a joint conference to discuss the promotion of freedom of religion.

CSW is concerned about threats to religious freedom in several countries, including Egypt where it warned that the draft constitution would limit the rights of religious minorities and women.

Christians are facing hardship in parts of northern and central Nigeria, where militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out deadly attacks on churches and other buildings. The group has stated its intention to eradicate Christianity.

In Burma, Rohingyas in Rakhine State have been subjected to a systematic campaign of persecution and ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution against the Chin people continues.

Pakistan also continues to raise concerns. CSW said extremist violence against religious minorities had reached "alarming levels" and that the Pakistani government was not doing enough to address the root causes.

CSW said that freedom of religion or belief remained a "neglected" right.

CSW's Advocacy Director, Andrew Johnston said, "We welcome the increased prominence that the right to freedom of religion or belief is rightfully receiving, and we urge the international community to go much further to ensure that this right is protected for all people around the world."