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U.N. Body Debates Religious Freedom; Soviet Ban on Matzoh is Involved

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, currently in session here, opened debate today on a proposed set of principles that may have a direct bearing on the Soviet Union’s ban against matzoh for this year’s Passover.

The draft consists of a series of principles on freedom and non-discrimination in the matter of religious rights and practices adopted in January 1960 by the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Among the principles proposed are these:

“No one shall be prevented from observing the dietary practices prescribed by his religion or belief. The members of a religion or belief shall not be prevented from acquiring or producing all materials and objects necessary for the performance or observance of prescribed rituals or practices, including dietary practices. Where the government controls the means of production and distribution it shall make such materials or objects, or the means of producing them, available to the members of the religion or belief concerned.”

One of the first speakers in the debate on these principles today was the Soviet Union’s representative on the Commission, Yakov A. Ostrowski. He told the Commission that the USSR constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all faiths, and that these guarantees are observed. In proof, he asserted, “monasteries, churches and synagogues are open in the Soviet Union.”

A number of Jewish organizations, with worldwide affiliations, are represented at the Human Rights Commission’s session, enjoying consultative status but no vote.

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