WRITTEN QUESTION E-1990/03
by Marco Cappato (NI), Benedetto Della Vedova (NI), Emma Bonino (NI), Gianfranco Dell'Alba (NI), Olivier Dupuis (NI), Marco Pannella (NI) and Maurizio Turco (NI)
to the Commission
Subject: Exercising the right to religious freedom
The Commission’s answers seem to differ in terms of the thinking behind them. In the first, on the situation in Cambodia, the Commission states: ‘In the absence of an in-depth analysis at this stage, the Directive as well as measures adopted until now by the Ministry of Cults and Religious Affairs, which are put in place to avoid the risks of religious conflicts, do not appear to violate the Universal Declaration on Human Rights nor the provisions of the Cambodian Constitution,’ concluding that ‘the Commission does not find any reason, at present, to believe that the government will use this Directive to discriminate against any particular religious groups’. In the second, on the situation in India, the Commission expresses its concern that this kind of state legislation could have the potential to restrict the Indian population’s right to religious freedom. In conclusion it pledges that the Commission will ‘deal with this matter in the same way that it deals with all other questions concerning democracy and human rights in India’.
– Given that these two responses are profoundly at odds, can the Commission state which line of reasoning it intends to follow in order to uphold the principle of the secularity of institutions, wherever they may be, as a fundamental bastion of the freedom of every individual?
– Does the Commission intend to accept highly restrictive interpretations of the right to religious freedom solely on the grounds that governments use them in order to avoid religious conflict, as it has done with Cambodia?
– Or does the Commission intend, as it has pledged in India’s case, to monitor the situation in, and, if need be, exert diplomatic pressure on, those countries that choose democratically to impose conditions on their citizens’ rights to express their own beliefs freely and to promote awareness and the dissemination of these beliefs, also freely?
OJ C 11 E, 15/01/2004