The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at the end of 2011 has adopted the Resolution 1846 (2011) and issued the Recommendation 1987 (2011) on "Combating all forms of discrimination based on religion", reports the Institute for Religious Freedom.
The Parliamentary Assembly notes that members of minority religious groups in Europe are vulnerable to intolerance and discrimination and invites member states to take stronger measures to combat any discrimination on grounds of religion or belief.
The Assembly also reiterates its support for the separation of state and church.
The Assembly calls on Council of Europe member states to promote a culture of “living together” based on religious pluralism, in accordance with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Governments should remain neutral and impartial in exercising their regulatory powers and in their relations with various religions.
PACE Resolution calls on Council of Europe member states to grant all religious communities the possibility to obtain a legal status and also to abolish outdated legislation and administrative practices causing discrimination against certain religious groups.
The Assembly considers it appropriate to adopt legislation to penalise hate speech and the use of violence against members of religious groups and religious leaders. Thus, European states have to ensure that investigative authorities conduct effective investigations into acts of violence based on religion or belief.
PACE also calls on European community to promote dialogue with religious leaders.
Referring to its Resolution the Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers to strengthen its action against discrimination based on religion or belief and also to continue dialogue with representatives of religious, humanist and philosophical communities.
PACE also calls on those member states which have not yet done so to sign and ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights. This protocol protects everyone from different forms of discrimination.
The Assembly calls on the Committee of Ministers to pursue co-operation with other international organisations, in particular the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the United Nations and its Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with a view to promoting coherent interpretations of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the implementation of common policies in the field of combating discrimination based on religion.
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