In the final presentation to the UN General Assembly of his tenure on October 28, 2016, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, urged member nations to guard against all forms of religious discrimination and intolerance.
Mr. Bielefeldt said that much of the world’s focus was on the use of criminal law in areas such as blasphemy, apostasy and proselytism to stigmatize or punish religious minorities. Yet, government-sponsored discrimination can take on more subtle forms.
For example, he said, some people suffered the imposition of burdensome bureaucracy and administrative requirements. Others were faced with discriminatory structures in family laws and education, or found that States were creating inequality and stigmatization in other ways.
Mr. Bielefeldt pointed to restrictive laws in European countries on forms of religious dress and expression as examples of intolerance and discrimination. He urged States and the international community to live up to their obligations and work together to tackle the world’s many challenges.
To read the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Religion/A-71-269_en.pdf.