This booklet, which can be downloaded, has just been published by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They are guiding principles for each country to apply with regards to respecting freedom of religion or belief. The following are extracts from the introduction:
“While OSCE participating States have adopted different strategies to ensure that their own secu-rity measures are fully compliant with their international obligations and commitments pertaining to freedom of religion or belief, certain laws, security policies and practices have placed freedom of religion or belief and other universal human rights under significant pres-sure. Such measures, especially those that are very broad or applied arbitrarily, are often enacted in the name of “national”, “state” or “pub-lic” security, or in the interests of preserving or maintaining “peaceful coexistence”, “social stability” or “social harmony”. Experience shows that such limitations can worsen rather than improve security.
“… Protecting, respecting and ensuring the right to security of a person includes the obligation on the part of the state to protect individuals, groups and communities from threats such as crime, violence and ter-rorism.5 States must consider security in all its different dimensions and adopt a comprehensive and co-operative approach that does not over-stress national security at the expense of other dimensions of security, including human rights.
“Nevertheless, much of the contemporary discourse on freedom of reli-gion or belief and security calls for a balance between these values or suggests that at least some aspects of this freedom must be sacrificed to achieve security. This discourse contradicts the OSCE’s comprehen-sive approach to security, which does not frame freedom of religion or belief and security as competing rights, but recognizes them as comple-mentary, interdependent and mutually reinforcing objectives that can and must be advanced together.”