IFPS resolution for the abolition of all hate speech and blasphemy laws

The International Free Press Society

A resolution for the abolition of all hate speech and blasphemy laws

The introduction and increasing application of laws against “hate speech” and “blasphemy” by national and supranational authorities throughout the Western world constitute a clear and present threat to freedom of expression.

While represented as protective laws to enforce civility, hate speech and blasphemy laws have become instruments in the hands of bureaucratic, political and juridical elites that enable them to punish citizens for expressing opinions and ideas the elites do not approve of. Such instruments, which ultimately prevent citizens from writing, publishing, and voicing ideas and opinions outside the established orthodoxy, undermine democracy itself.

Under these circumstances, citizens have only one recourse: to demand the total abolition of all hate speech and blasphemy laws.

The International Free Press Society will commit all the resources at its disposal to this fight.

March 8, 2009

Lars Hedegaard, President

Diana West, Vice President

Paul Belien, Vice President

Christine Brim, Secretary

Bjorn Larsen, Treasurer

Ned May, Outreach Coordinator

IFPS endorses joint NGO statement on danger of UN “defamation of religions” measures

The following statement has been endorsed by the International Free Press Society and the Danish Free Press Society.  The statement was introduced by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Freedom House, UN Watch and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty to urge all states to reject UN resolutions “combating defamation of religion” – a concept which has no validity in international law.

Joint NGO Statement on Danger of U.N. “Defamation of Religions” Campaign

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations,

Deeply concerned by the pervasive and mounting campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to produce U.N. resolutions, declarations, and world conferences that propagate the concept of “defamation of religions,” a concept having no basis in domestic or international law, and which would alter the very meaning of human rights, which protect individuals from harm, but not beliefs from critical inquiry;

Deeply concerned by the attempt to misuse the U.N. to legitimize blasphemy laws, thereby restricting freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press;

Deeply concerned that “defamation of religions” resolutions may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters, and other independent voices;

Alarmed by the resolution on “defamation of religions” recently tabled at the current 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council;

Alarmed by the draft resolution on freedom of expression circulated by Egypt, whose amendments seek to restrict, not promote, protections for free speech;

Alarmed by the recently-announced initiative of the U.N. “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to amend the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by adding a protocol on “defamation of religions”;

Alarmed by provisions in the latest draft outcome document of the Durban Review Conference that, through coded language and veiled references, endorse and encourage these subversive and anti-democratic initiatives;

1. Call upon all governments to oppose the “defamation of religions” resolution currently tabled at the UN Human Rights Council, and the objectionable provisions of the freedom of expression resolution;

2. Call upon all governments to resist the efforts of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to alter the ICERD;

3. Call upon all governments not to accept or legitimize a Durban Review Conference outcome that directly or indirectly supports the “defamation of religions” campaign at the expense of basic freedoms and individual human rights.