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Institute Calls on European Union to Investigate Romania's Compliance With European Union Standards after Passage of Worst Religion Law in Europe

Contact: Kevin Fahey, Institute on Religion and Public Policy, 202-835-8760, Fahey@religionandpolicy.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Institute on Religion and Public Policy today appealed to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Josep Borrell and his successor to be named today to investigate Romania’s compliance with fundamental human rights and basic European Union standards in light of Romania’s new law on religion which flagrantly violates internationally recognized human rights instruments to which the Romanian Government is obligated to adhere.

The law establishes a series of qualifying standards which must be met in order to obtain the government’s preferential status. Membership requires 0.1% of the population of Romania: considering the country’s population, a group must consist of about 23,000 members to be eligible. This repressive threshold establishes Romania as the most restrictive religious registration system in Europe.

The law also creates a tiered system of religious communities, with different rights associated with respective levels. In a recent draft a religious group must wait twelve years before qualifying for and being accepted into the most preferential status, provoking marked disapproval from wide-ranging groups including Adventists, Baha’is Baptists, Greek Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“The rush to pass such repressive religious legislation on the eve of formal admission to the European Union raises serious questions regarding Romania’s commitment to democracy and the protection of fundamental human rights," stated Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski. “Surely, President Basescu and the Romanian Parliament should not be permitted to enjoy all the benefits and privileges of Union membership if they insist on flouting basic European Union standards by implementing an unjust and undemocratic law which will deprive many religious minorities of fundamental religious rights. The Union must act to safeguard human rights and religious freedom in Romania. Furthermore, we congratulate and support incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on his efforts to pressure Romania to back down.”