On 29th October 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christoper Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions from the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on the subject of religious and other groups in Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to work with Syria’s religious communities, including the smallest minority communities and their political and civic representatives, to help them reach agreement on what measures are needed to ensure religious freedom and security for all communities in that country.[HL2204]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns): We are supporting non-governmental efforts to promote dialogue between different ethnic and sectarian groups in Syria, with a view to a future political settlement. We are also funding training for Syrian activists to document abuses to a criminal law standard with the aim that this documentation could be used in a future process of accountability.
In the long run the only way to secure the position of Syria’s minority communities is to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis. The UK is determined to support the moderate opposition, who are working for an inclusive political settlement, and are committed to protect all of Syria’s communities and resist, extremists and authoritarian regimes.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to ensure that any assistance provided to opposition groups in Syria does not either directly or indirectly support any militia, non-state actor or other organisation credibly charged with involvement in sectarian or religiously motivated violence. [HL2205]
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The assistance we provide, including to the armed opposition groups, has undergone intense scrutiny to ensure that we are providing the best possible support and that we meet all our national and international obligations. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure its provision is consistent with export controls under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and EU restrictions on the provision of goods to Syria (as agreed by Member States on 27 May 2013). The UK does not supply weapons to anybody in Syria.