In today's debate about entrenching human rights for all, I would like to talk a little about the right to freedom of religion and belief.
On International Woman's Day in 2014, in the midst of escalating global violence linked to religious extremism, I reminded the President of South Africa and Members of Parliament that freedom of religion will not hold up on its own. I said that if we stand by while global terrorism destroys freedom of religion around the world, we will stand alone when we are under siege. The situation in Africa with terror groups like Boko Haram, burning towns and abducting and killing thousands, brings global terror much closer to home and reminds us that South Africa cannot afford to be complacent.
We know that freedom of religion is restricted in many parts of the world and it is restricted in different ways. According to nongovernmental organisations working on the ground, there is often a connection between high restrictions of freedom of religion and belief in a society and high levels of violent conflict and military spending. Poor economic development, a low status and participation of women in social and economic matters and poor health are also generally evident.
While we would expect the governments of nation states to respect, protect and promote human rights, far too many are the ones committing the violations through restrictive or unfair laws and regulations, state harassment, monitoring, raids and imprisonment without legitimate legal processes. Parliaments throughout the world need to be vigilant in this regard.
Violations also occur at the hands of communities, as we have seen in South Africa when violence flares up against foreign nationals. If the state fails to take action against acts of hostility, there can be no freedom, no peace and no growth.
The ACDP is committed to seeing our Parliament in South Africa being better equipped to protect freedom of religion and belief and we invite you to join us.
We have, for example, called on this Parliament to consider initiatives to protect freedom of religion and belief, as we believe there is an urgent need for lawmakers to pay more attention to the impact of legislation and policy on this freedom.
The ACDP calls on this House today to express concern over the recent attack on Christians in Lahore, Pakistan, and the arrest of 400 Pakistani Christians in Thailand who are likely to be deported back to Pakistan. These are just two incidents linked to the inadequate protection of freedom of religion and belief out of many happening all over the world.
Freedom of religion and belief gives people their identity - the freedom to form and express personal beliefs. It protects not only those who believe in God, but also those who do not and those who believe that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. Protecting freedom of religion or belief is of course not about protecting religions and beliefs from criticism or from ridicule; it is about the freedom of people themselves to believe in different religions or concepts.
This freedom has sadly taken on an orphan-like status and for this reason we need to remind ourselves ... [Time expired.]