Title

Religious Liberty: The Legal Framework in Selected OSCE Countries

Wednesday, July 19, 2000
340 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
United States
Members: 
Name: 
Hon. Christopher Smith
Title Text: 
Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Witnesses: 
Name: 
Dr. James Billington
Title: 
Librarian
Body: 
Library of Congress
Name: 
David Sale
Title: 
Director of Legal Research
Body: 
Library of Congress
Name: 
Dr. Peter L. Roudik
Title: 
Senior Legal Specialist
Body: 
Law Library of Congress
Name: 
Nicole Atwill
Title: 
Senior Legal Specialist for France
Body: 
Law Library of Congress
Name: 
Karel Wennink
Title: 
Senior Legal Specialist for the Netherlands
Body: 
Law Library of Congress
Name: 
David Ackerman
Title: 
Legislative Attorney, American Law Division
Body: 
Congressional Research Service
Name: 
E. Wayne Merry
Title: 
Senior Associate
Body: 
American Foreign Policy Council

At the briefing, an in-depth study examining the religious liberties laws and constitutional provisions of twelve countries: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, the United States, and Uzbekistan formally released by the Helsinki Commission was discussed. The project was inspired by the agreement of OSCE participating States to “ensure that their laws, regulations, practices and policies conform with their obligation under international law and are brought into harmony with the provisions of the Declaration on Principles and other OSCE commitments.”

Various panelists addressed the issue of governments continuing to impose restrictions on individual religious liberties, despite a prior agreement to curtail anti-religious laws and governmental practices designed to prevent people from practicing or expressing their religious beliefs. Legal specialists from the Law Library of Congress emphasized a “frightening” trend in France to limit an individual’s right to freely express religious views or participate in religious activities, a Greek policy requiring one’s religious affiliation to be listed on government-issued identification cards, and Turkish raids on Protestant groups as examples of the violations of religious liberty that continue to plague these selected OSCE countries.

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