At UN, EHF highlights the situation of free thinking refugees

At UN, EHF highlights the situation of free thinking refugees

Posted on the 03/07/18

Today, the European Humanist Federation took part in the discussions of the United Nations Human Rights Council on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In this context, the EHF raised the case of humanists, atheists, free-thinkers and non-believers discriminated against and persecuted on the grounds of the views they hold or the fact that they do not hold any views or beliefs.

In particular, the EHF highlighted the situation of refugees once the reached shelter in Europe. In Belgium, France or Greece, non-believers and humanists who flee their country because of threats and persecutions there, often meet similar threats from other migrants in reception centers. They do not always feel free to express their views and have to “camouflage” themselves due to community pressure.

Adding its voice to the one of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the EHF urged the Human Rights Council to pay specific attention to these people when it reviews the situation of fundamental rights of UN Member States.

The EHF is keen to work together with IHEU to remind UN delegates that Freedom of Religion or Belief includes the right not to believe, the right to stop believing as well as the right to change one’s belief. When it comes to the tragic situation of people discriminated and persecuted for their thoughts, humanists urge decision-makers and officials to do much more for the protection of these people whether they are religious or not.

HRC 38: General debate item 9

Durban Declaration and Programme of action 

02 – 03 July 2018



European Humanist Federation


Mr. President,

The Durban declaration urges States to protect the human rights of all migrants and to provide refugees and asylum seekers with protection and assistance. Further, it calls all States to address the intolerance and discriminations that these people often meet in our societies.

Many people have to leave their country and community after facing persecutions because of the beliefs and the views they hold or do not hold: these people are atheists, humanists, free-thinkers and non-believers.

We are particularly worried to see that these persons are still not safe to express their views when they are sheltered by a host country.  When they finally reach, at the cost of their lives, some European reception center, non-believers and humanists often have to camouflage themselves to avoid bad treatment and persecutions. These persecutions can come from other migrants in the camp, but also from the administrative and police authorities that run these centers. This happens for instance in Belgium, France, Italy or Greece.

Furthermore, our governments and societies too often assume that the place of birth of these people determines their beliefs and this allows further discriminations when non-believers try to integrate.

We therefore urge this Council to pay a specific attention to the protection of people who seek asylum on beliefs grounds when it reviews the situation of fundamental rights of UN member states.

Thank you Mr President.


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