STATEMENT – On 22nd August 2020, the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) observes the second United Nations International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

This year, it comes at a time when the world is battling a global health crisis that has gravely impacted the lives of many, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable individuals and communities. In some countries, the pandemic has flared existing religious intolerance which has targeted persons and groups on the basis of their religion or belief. We are also concerned about the continuing intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, including persons belonging to religious and belief-based communities and minorities around the world.

Victims and survivors of such acts of violence should not only be protected but must be provided with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with the State’s obligations under international human rights law. Governments should ensure accountability and a recourse for remedy and redressal. By fostering an environment where diversity and pluralism are respected and all human rights are protected and promoted, authorities can help prevent future injustices from taking place.

We believe that parliamentarians play an important role in addressing human rights concerns in their countries. They are key to any State response that protects and supports the victims and survivors in accordance with the State’s international human rights obligations. Parliamentarians can hold their own governments accountable. They can also be part of broader coalitions which include faith communities, religious and belief leaders and other civil society actors to build social cohesion.

On this day, we stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of acts of violence based on religion or belief. States should go beyond re-affirming their commitment and take urgent and effective action in protecting and promoting all human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief for all. We must strengthen trust and good-will in our societies to counter narratives of hatred, violence and intolerance. This involves bringing together a wide array of state and non-state actors to advance inclusive dialogue and promote solidarity amongst all.

David Anderson, Member of Parliament (Retired), Canada and Chair of IPPFoRB Steering Committee, YB Kasthuriraani Patto, Member of Parliament, Malaysia and Member of IPPFoRB Steering Committee, Aykan Erdemir, Former Member of Parliament, Turkey and Member of IPPFoRB Steering Committee and Fernanda San Martin Carrasco, Member of Parliament, Bolivia and Member of IPPFoRB Steering Committee

AUGUST 22, 2020

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