The IIRF welcomes and congratulates the Organization of American States (OAS) for including Religious Freedom as a topic of interest. We also urge the organization and its members to give more emphasis to religious freedom issues in their actions, in order to transcend declarations and generate a greater impact in this area.
The OAS General Secretariat shared a press release on October 27, 2023, commemorating the International Day of Religious Freedom, emphasizing the growing importance of religious freedom and the contribution of religion and spirituality to democracy, highlighting the importance of the resolution on the “Strengthening protection and promotion of the right to freedom of conscience and religion or belief,” in section XXV of the Resolution for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights of 2022, approved during the 52nd OAS General Assembly.
The OAS reaffirms the significance of religious freedom, belief, and even not having any particular religious affiliation, as fundamental rights, promoting personal development and support for marginalized social groups, stressing the necessity to go beyond religious diversity to achieve religious pluralism through concrete inclusion, dialogue, and collaboration. This call for attention promoted by the OAS is particularly important for the region, which is in a process of important changes where religious freedom is beginning to position itself as a topic of debate.
We recall the important milestone achieved by the IIRF in October 2022, when the IIRF and OLIRE, joined by 15 other organizations, participated in the thematic hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The session marked a turning point as civil society organizations brought the often-overlooked issue of religious freedom to the debate, unveiling stories of religious freedom violations entangled with organized crime and armed conflicts across the region, with particular concern about the presence of organized crime and armed groups in Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Mexico and the delicate situation in Nicaragua. You can view the hearing session here.