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United Nations Warns Japan on Religious Freedom
United Nations Human Rights CommissionThe UN Human Rights Committee has formally reminded Japan of its responsibility to uphold religious freedom in the wake of reports that the government consistently turns a blind eye to forced de-conversion of adherents of minority faiths. "The State party [Japan] should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to  have or to adopt a religion or belief," the committee said. Human Rights Without Frontiers, which has taken a leading role in informing the UN on this issue, issued the following report:

HRWF (25.07.2014) - On 15-16 July, Japan's human rights record was reviewed in the framework of the 111th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. During Japan's sixth periodic review, the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right not to be coerced to change religion has been raised in detailed reports provided to the Committee by Human Rights Without Frontiers (Brussels) and by the Japanese Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Religious De-Conversion. 

During the review, the German expert of the Committee, Ms. Seibert-Fohr, raised the issue of abductions and so-called "deprogramming" as she said. She explained that the Committee came to know about cases of abductions and forced religious de-conversions of members of the Unification Church and Jehovah's Witnesses, that adults were abducted and confined by their families for up to six months or more, and that there was a lack of investigation and police search, under the justification that they were "with their families". She explained that civil cases were brought but no injunction had been pronounced to her knowledge. She asked the Japanese government which steps it was going to take to remedy this situation.
Woman Accused of Apostasy In Sudan Escapes to Italy
by Tina Ramirez
Pope meets accused woman from Sudan
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, the young mother sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for her refusal to renounce her Christian faith, traveled to Italy early July 24 with her husband Daniel Wani, their 20-month old son, Martin, and four-week old daughter, Maya, who was delivered in prison. [The Vatican announced that Pope Francis met the persecuted mother and her family later the same day.] They were reported to be living in a government safe house in Italy until they obtain the proper travel documents to come to the United States.

According to Meriam's lawyer, Al-Sharief Ali, "The Italians had the greatest influence on Sudan and were able to secure her release."  Deputy Foreign Minister for Italy, Lapo Pistelli, flew to Sudan to negotiate the release and accompanied Meriam and her family to safety on July 24th. According to Ramirez, "Italy has been a recurring safe-haven for apostates and others seeking religious freedom over the years." 
Landmark Deprogramming Case Reaches Appeals Court in Japan PDF Print E-mail

by Timothy Elder

A civil suit attracting international attention for its importance in the fight for religious human rights in Japan has entered the appellate phase after a lower court ruling that activists found encouraging.

The suit was brought by Toru Goto, a Unification Church member in Japan, against deprogrammers and members of his own family for holding him against his will for more than 12 years in an attempt to coerce him into renouncing his faith. The first hearing before the Tokyo High Court was held on June 5, according to a Japanese-language blog published by his supporters.

An earlier ruling by the Tokyo District Court found that the faith-breaking efforts against Mr. Goto had overstepped "the bounds of what is socially appropriate" and awarded him damages of some 4.8 million yen ($48,000). The amount included the cost of a seven-week stay in a Tokyo hospital, where he was treated for malnutrition and general muscle weakness immediately following his release from captivity.


European Court of Human Rights Errs on French Ban Against Muslim Veils PDF Print E-mail

By Aaron Rhodes and Peter Zoehrer

By upholding a French ban on wearing full-face veils, a common Muslim practice, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has failed to protect the religious freedom of Islamic women who choose the veil as an expression of their faith.

Court Rules Against Deprogrammers in Japan PDF Print E-mail
Written by ICRF Editor   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 21:35
Goto wins court case against deprogrammers
A Japanese court has ruled in favor of Unification Church member Mr. Toru Goto in a civil suit against his captors and deprogrammers. Mr. Goto was held against his will for more than 12  years in an attempt to break his faith. He sued members of his family and  two deprogrammers. Details are expected soon regarding the wording of verdict and the amount of any fines against the guilty parties.

The case had received the attention of numerous international agencies,  including the UN Human Rights Council, the US State Department and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. 

The verdict was greeted with enthusiasm by human rights activists, who expressed hope that the verdict will represent an important precedent.  "I  am so very happy for him and all the victims of this horrible practice against  human rights!" said Kathryn Cameron Porter, president of  the Washington-DC 
Leadership Council for Human Rights.

ICRF president Dan Fefferman added:  "We  are hopeful that this  will be a turning point for Japan. "In the US,  deprogramming didn't come to an end until the courts made it clear that the  perpetrators of this crime would be punished."

Mr. Goto spoke to supporters in Tokyo immediately after the verdict was announced.( A translation is expected soon.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 February 2014 02:38

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