- Debate focused on mandate of Special Envoy and EU Guidelines for freedom of religion
- Conversation reveals importance of EU’s role in global protection of religious freedom
Brussels (6 November 2018) –On 5 November, Andrzej Grzyb MEP, member of the parliamentary subcommittee on human rights, hosted an event at the European Parliament on religious freedom. The event focused on the recent European Parliament report on the mandate of the EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief. A large number of people participated in the discussion, including Ján Figeľ, the current Special Envoy, Mairead McGuinness MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament, and members of civil society and religious groups.
“I hope that the commitment of the European Parliament will be a legacy not only for the far future but also for the next Commission. The future Special Envoy should really be special and bring together the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief and inter-religious dialogue. Hopefully, the parliamentary report on religious freedom, once adopted, will materialize into an EU which is more human and more responsible,” said Ján Figeľ.
New goals and strategies for the position
Research shows a global increase in violations of freedom of religion. Human rights experts recognize the EU as an influential actor when it comes to human rights protection worldwide. A strong mandate of the Special Envoy along with a full and proper implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief are vital to achieving this.
“This roundtable and the parliamentary report are extremely important as freedom of religion and belief is fundamentally about human dignity and freedom. The EU should be a leader in all of these issues. We need to use our soft power to persuade others that Freedom of Religion or Belief matters. I welcome this full room because if we do not address this issue the world will take a step backwards,” said Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, who spoke at the event.
“It is time for the European Union to take seriously the role it has in protecting the fundamental right to freedom of religion around the world. The Special Envoy and the Guidelines provide the tools to make significant steps in this direction. The institutionalization of the Envoy’s position and the strengthening of his mandate would help ensure they have the intended impact. Nobody should be persecuted for their faith and the EU should use its considerable influence to make this a reality,” said Adina Portaru, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Brussels.