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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila; Wiener, Michael (21st January 2016)

Part 4 Intersection of Freedom of Religion or Belief with Other Human Rights, 4.3 Prohibition on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Torture — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Detention — Minorities — Prisoners of war

This chapter addresses three aspects of torture in relation to the right to freedom of religion or belief. First, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment on the grounds of religion or belief. The prohibition of torture is recognized as forming part of jus cogens and entailing an erga omnes obligation of States towards the international community as a whole. Second, torture and other inhuman treatment may also arise from understandings of what particular religious scriptures or traditions allegedly require. They may be carried out by individuals animated by religious hatred, may enjoy the complicity of the Government, or may even be carried out by the authorities themselves. As discussed, human rights can never consider such actions a legitimate exercise of freedom of religion or belief. Finally, the religious sensitivities of detainees or prisoners of war (irrespective of the reasons for their incarceration) may be exploited in order to subject them to torture and other inhuman treatment, in other words utilizing the religion of detainees in order to subject them to tailored torture or inhuman treatment.

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