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Press Release: UN Universal Period Review Fails to Break Through “Blackout” on Religious Discrimination in Japan


HRWF(Brussels/Geneva, Nov. 1, 2012) – While Japan was lightly criticized for discrimination including religious discrimination during its UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 31 October 2012, the international community failed to note the refusal of Japanese authorities to protect the human rights of thousands of members of minority religions who have been violently abducted by family members and forced to change their religion, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) reported today.

“Despite having objective evidence of gross negligence by the authorities concerning kidnapping and coercion of Japanese citizens, UN delegations ignored the issue and thus helped Japan maintain its strategy of denial,” said Willy Fautre, president of HRWF, which undertook research on the issue and published a report on “Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-conversion” in late 2011. Human Rights Without Frontiers and other organizations made submissions on the issue to the UN prior to the UPR review and met with numerous UN delegations to ask that the issue be raised with Japanese authorities.

Around eighty (80) delegations took the floor to comment on Japan’s human rights record during the review. They mentioned Japan’s continuing use of the death penalty, problems of migrant workers, child pornography and Japan’s alleged failure to apologize and compensate for wartime atrocities, among other issues. Most praised Japan for its support for the UN and cooperation with the UPR procedure.

Religious Freedom and National Security PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 October 2012 15:39


With the world's ever increasing religious diversity, freedom of religion has emerged as a fundamental human rights issue. It also intersects with other foreign policy challenges, including political, social, and economic development. One of the most important but most poorly understood connections is with national security.

In this paper, Dr. William Inboden, a distinguished scholar at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas-Austin, discusses the correlation between religious persecution and national security threats.

He points out that countries with egregious violations of religious freedom are largely the same as those which pose a threat to the U.S. Therefore, the promotion of religious freedom can serve to lessen existing security threats.

He credits Ambassador Robert Seiple, the first ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, for in 1999 anticipating the conflicts and security threats that would confront the United States.

You can view Dr. Inboden’s paper here:

Last Updated on Friday, 05 October 2012 16:26
Germany's Circumcision Ban and Religious Freedom PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 August 2012 19:10

Merkel: Germany risks becoming a laughing stock

Germany today finds itself embroiled in a religious controversy that touches the very core of its post-war identity, while at the same time addressing the strains of adapting to an increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious makeup.

In June, after a Muslim boy suffered health complications from a ritual circumcision, a court in Cologne declared nonmedical circumcision to be criminal because it causes children bodily harm. Amid outrage from Jewish and Muslim leaders who said it threatened their religious freedom, lawmakers quickly passed a resolution promising legislation guaranteeing legal protection for circumcision.

Germany is home to about 120,000 Jews and 4 million Muslims.

Israel’s chief rabbi of Ashkenazi Jews, Yona Metzger, has sought to assist German political leaders in crafting legislation to protect the right of ritual circumcision.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 October 2012 16:57
Report: Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 September 2012 15:57

In its third in a series of reports, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life analyzes the extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices.

These reports have drawn widespread attention to the fact that a substantial portion of the world’s population – 75% as of mid-2010 – live in countries where governments, social groups or individuals restrict people’s ability to freely practice their faith.

The new study shows that between mid-2009 and mid-2010, religious restrictions rose not only in countries that began the year with high or very high restrictions, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, but also in many countries that began with low or moderate restrictions, such as Switzerland and the United States.

The report looks at restrictions due to government actions as well as acts of violence and intimidation by private individuals, organizations and social groups.

You can access the full report here:

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 September 2012 20:41
Mosque Free to Open, a Win for All Religious Houses of Worship PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 August 2012 14:08

Washington DC, August 10, 2012--Today, in a great victory for religious freedom, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will be able to use its newly built mosque for prayer for the first time. The mosque has faced opposition from a small group of local residents, who filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the mosque from being used. But on July 18th, after lawsuits filed by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the United States Department of Justice, a federal court ruled in the mosque’s favor, concluding that the mosque was entitled to a certificate of occupancy on the same terms as any other house of worship.

"We are very happy that such a basic religious freedom right, namely the freedom worship, has been preserved," said ICRF president Dan Fefferman. "Special congratulations to the Becket Fund for their important, unselfish work on this case."

“Today marks a triumph not just for the Muslims of Murfreesboro, but for people of all faiths. No house of worship should be kept from meeting just because the neighbors dislike their religious beliefs,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel at the Becket Fund.


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