On 13th October 2015 the Bishop of Bristol, Rt Rev Mike Hill, received answers to two written questions of Government on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The appointment of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UN Consultative Group as Chair was an internal decision of the Consultative Group, which is comprised of five Ambassadors, one from each of the five regional groups of the UN. The Saudi Arabian Ambassador is the Asian Group representative in the Consultative Group, to which appointment lasts for one year.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and in particular its commitment to freedom of religion or belief.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: Saudi Arabia is a Foreign & Commonwealth Office priority country because of the human rights situation, particularly on the death penalty, access to justice, women’s rights, restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion or belief. The British Government strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief. Islamic law is strictly enforced in Saudi Arabia and the public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal. The Saudi authorities do accept foreign workers privately practising religions other than Islam.
We believe that the key to increasing freedom in this area is to focus on tolerance. We have worked with Saudi Arabia to identify areas where different faiths could work together and foster trust.