Title

Status of Religious Liberty for Minority Faiths in Europe and the OSCE

Friday, December 05, 1997
Erivan Karl Haub Executive Conference Center, 33 City Avenue, St. Joseph’s University
Philadelphia, PA 19131
United States
Members: 
Name: 
Hon. Christopher H. Smith
Title Text: 
Co-Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Name: 
Hon. Joseph R. Pitts
Title Text: 
Ranking Member
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Name: 
Hon. Jon D. Fox
Title Text: 
Ranking Member
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Witnesses: 
Name: 
Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino
Title: 
Auxiliary Bishop
Body: 
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Name: 
Michael Slotznick
Title: 
Director
Body: 
The American Jewish Committee
Name: 
Rabbi Andrew Baker
Title: 
Director of European Affairs
Body: 
The American Jewish Committee
Name: 
Antonios Kireopoulos
Title: 
Representative
Body: 
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Name: 
Sharon R. Payt, Esquire
Title: 
A Former Attorney for Minority Religious Groups in Central Asia and the Caucasus
Name: 
Professor Paul Marshall
Title: 
Author of "Their Blood Cries Out"
Body: 
The Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Canada

The purpose of this hearing, which the Hon. Christopher H. Smith chaired, was to discuss the reality of disturbing undercurrents of subtle, but growing, discrimination and harassment of minority religious believers, as opposed to discussing the widespread documentation of torture and persecution of practitioners of minority faiths.

In a number of European countries, government authorities had seemed to work on restricting the freedoms of conscience and speech in much of their governments’ actions. For example, in Russia, on September 26, 1997, President Boris Yeltsin signed the law called “On Freedom of Conscience and on Religious Associations,” which blatantly violated agreements of the OSCE which the former U.S.S.R. helped to initiate. Through use of witnesses, then, attendees of this hearing, namely commissioners, gained a deeper understanding of the religious liberty violations within OSCE member countries and insight into how to best influence governments to adhere more closely to internationally accepted human rights standards.

Leadership: 
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