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15 Religion & Hum. Rts. 1 (2020)

handle is hein.intyb/relhr0015 and id is 1 raw text is: 

                 RELIGION AND  HUMAN   RIGHTS 15 (2020) 1-2          Human
 BRILL                                                               Rights
 NIJHOFF                                                         brill.com/rhrs



 Editorial
Limitations to Freedom ofReligion or Belief in Theory and Practice


Freedom  of religion or belief is a fundamental human right. It is enshrined in
universal and regional human  rights treaties. It enables persons from all be-
liefs and none to express themselves according to their conscience. However,
freedom  of religion or belief is also a qualified right, meaning that in excep-
tional circumstances-and   in strict accordance with the limitations regime-
manifestation of religion or belief may be limited by State authorities. The
rationale for the need to allow for limitations to manifestation of religion or
belief is generally well understood by scholars, practitioners, and even lay peo-
ple, so why does it prove so controversial in practice?
   Despite the extensive number  of books  and  articles on freedom of reli-
gion or belief and its limitations, domestic and supranational courts, as well
as UN  treaty-based bodies still struggle to translate this theory into practice.
Therefore, the articles in this special issue narrowed down precisely on the
point of how various domestic and international bodies have imposed limita-
tions on freedom  of religion in practice. These articles stem from the initia-
tive of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom  of Religion or Belief inviting experts
on several jurisdictions, in order to evaluate together whether the theoretical
knowledge  about  limitations to freedom of religion or belief was applied in
practice. The results are staggering and can be found in detail in all articles in
these special editions.
   Broadly speaking, three main issues emerged  from the studies. First, only
a few  cases dealing with limitations to freedom of religion or belief reach
domestic  courts, and an even smaller fraction of these cases are decided by
international bodies. Second, when cases are decided by courts, there is a no-
ticeable discrepancy between  theory and  practice. Courts tend to privilege
majoritarian and traditional religious groups over members of minority reli-
gious and non-religious groups. The grounds for limiting freedom of religion
or belief are expanded in practice, and general issues regarding the rights of
vulnerable persons are often overlooked. Thus, despite limitations being ex-
ceptional in nature, they become the rule in many contexts. Third, the range
of justifications for limitations is overly wide. Though every case is suigeneris,
several decisions extrapolate the framework provided by international law on
the topic, leading to a lack of legal certainty in this field.


©  NAZILA GHANEA AND THIAGO ALVES PINTO, 2020  DOI:10.1163/18710328-BJA10011
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

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