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MRG urges the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to address violations of the economic and social rights of religious minorities

16 March 2023

This statement was delivered at the Human Rights Council – 52nd Session by Mays Al-Juboori, Senior Middle East Officer at Minority Rights Group International, at the occasion of an Interactive Dialogue with the new UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on 9 March 2023.

Madame Special Rapporteur,

Minority Rights Group warmly congratulates you on your appointment. You start your mandate at a particularly challenging time for religious or belief minorities, as majoritarianism and identity politics threaten those whose beliefs or lack thereof are seen or presented as problematic by political actors.

Your mandate is a key natural ally to persecuted religious or belief minorities and indigenous peoples. We call on you to pay particular attention to urgent situations of concern, as MRG fears that there will again be situations of identity-based mass killings and persecution during your mandate period.

We also see hate speech against minorities, including through social media, as a key contemporary rising threat that needs to be addressed. We are encouraged by your will to work on the role and responsibilities of non-state actors and hope that you can look at the responsibility of private social media companies and other actors in that framework.

We particularly welcome your three-dimensional approach to your mandate: freedom of religion is not only about worship and rites, it is also about not experiencing discrimination on the basis of one’s religion or belief, or in the name of a religion.

On that note, MRG encourages you to address the violations of economic and social rights of religious or belief minorities, with particular attention to access to education, employment, health and poverty alleviation.

We hope that you will also pay attention to indigenous peoples. Their belief systems are often linked to their traditional territories, from which they are more and more frequently excluded in the name of conservation or of development projects.

There is much to be done. We and our local partners look forward to collaborating with you to strive to address the factors that expose religious and belief minorities to hatred, violence and discrimination.

I thank you.

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