A few weeks ahead of the Durban Review Conference (DRC) on April 2009, the International Federation for Human rights would like to reaffirm the importance of a successful outcome of this conference to promote a continuous improvement on the fight against all forms of discrimination. No country is immune to criticism in this area. The Conference will thus require a frank and humble analysis by each State of their own performance, limits and challenges.
Within this context, FIDH has welcomed the release on March 17th of a shortened version of the final draft outcome document (the Rolling text) which contributes to building consensus among participants. FIDH encourages in particular the exclusion from the text of the notion of "defamation of religion", a politically motivated notion which is not compatible with international human rights law, as recognised by all UN human rights experts that have been working on the issue.
Nevertheless, FIDH is of the opinion that several improvements should be brought to the text :
· The condemnation of the rise of the number of incidents of racial and religious hatred or violence is important, but paragraph 10, as it stands, should be excluded, as it draws a harmful amalgam between the legitimate denounciation of incidents of religious hatred, and, rejects the « negative stereotyping » of religions – which FIDH believes is a right under freedom of expression. The text should indeed recognise the right of individuals to criticise, caricature or ridicule religions, provided that their criticism does not incite to hatred, discrimination and violence against individuals or groups belonging to these religions. It should also call for the repeal of blasphemy.
· The Rolling text should reaffirm that all forms of discrimination against individuals on grounds of their religion, belief or thought should be abolished. It should call upon States to decriminalise aposthasy, and to ensure the right of individuals to practice their religion.
· The text should acknowledge (In Section 1.C) the role of the fight against impunity in the prevention of racism, and notably recognize (in Section 1.D) the historical achievements that have occured since the World Conference, notably the trial of the highest responsibles of international crimes, including former presidents, both through national and international courts;
· The text should also underline the value of the General Comments published by the CERD, notably the General Comments on Roma (27), on descent (29) and on non-citizens (30). It should refer to the development of jurisprudence on the prohibition of discrimination provided by the UN Human Rights Committee and the CEDAW. It should underline the necessity to lift all reservations to these conventions that are contrary to their objectives and purposes.
· the Rolling text should finally further call for the end of all forms of colonialism and foreign occupation and their consequences in the field of racism and racist discrimination, notably the closure of territories, the seisure of land, the violations of the right to self determination, of cultural rights of occupied populations, on grounds of their national, cultural, ethnic or religious grounds.