Honor to assassinated French teacher Samuel Paty by defending rights, defying fundamentalism – UN experts – YubaNet

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GENEVA (October 15, 2021) – On the first anniversary of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty, UN experts paid tribute to his commitment to teaching human rights values ​​and declared that the best way to honor him was to challenge fundamentalism and defend human rights.

Mr. Paty was beheaded by an extremist on October 16, 2020 near the school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the Paris suburbs, following a social media campaign that distorted his attempts to teach freedom of expression using cartoons.

“His assassination was an attack on cultural rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, freedom of religion or belief – and of course his right to life,” said Karima Bennoune, United Nations special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

“His assassination took place against a backdrop of growing challenges to the separation of religion and state, motivated in particular by fundamentalist civil society actors,” they said. “The most important ways to honor the memory of Mr. Paty are to defend these human rights, to challenge fundamentalism, to defend respect for pluralism and to ensure the safety of those who promote thoughtful academic debate for these purposes. . “

The experts expressed their solidarity “with Mr. Paty’s family and his colleagues in the field of education who continue his work in promoting human rights education and critical thinking, including through the use of culture and on subjects deemed controversial or related to religion or belief.

On the anniversary, experts also paid tribute to others targeted this year for their practice and advocacy of cultural rights, such as Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was dragged out of his home in a village. north of Kabul and killed by Taliban fighters in September. On February 28, shortly after a Taliban spokesperson said that “music is prohibited in Islam.”

“All States and the international community must do more to ensure the safety of those who exercise and defend cultural rights as well as other human rights and democratic values ​​through artistic expression, education and cultural dissent, ”the experts said.

Governments must ensure that perpetrators of crimes against those who defend these human rights are brought to justice in accordance with international law. It is also essential to commemorate these victims and to effectively challenge fundamentalist and extremist ideologies such as those which motivated their killings, in accordance with international standards. States must recognize and support the positive role of debate and dissent through cultural and creative expressions and protect those who engage in them, they said.

“Mr. Paty sought to use culture to teach human rights even when it was difficult and dangerous,” the experts said. “His voice may have been silenced, but his beliefs should continue to hold true. inspire us all to do more to create and preserve a space for expression and debate. These are essential elements of cultural life and efforts to promote human rights, especially in a context of diversity increasing. “

Karima Bennoune was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in October 2015. Ms. Bennoune grew up in Algeria and the United States. She is Professor of Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis School of Law, where she teaches human rights and international law. She is currently a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

On November 1, 2016, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed took up his mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. He is Deputy Director of the Essex Human Rights Center. He was the first special rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the end of the previous mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in 2002. Diplomat of career, he has twice served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives. He led the Maldives’ efforts to adopt international human rights standards between 2003 and 2011.

Special rapporteurs are part of what is called the Special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest group of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with either country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.


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