Bishop of Leeds asks Government about strategy for promoting freedom of religion or belief

On 18th June 2019  the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received five written answers from Government, about religious freedom and the persecution of Christians:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL16018 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their strategy for promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief as an objective of UK foreign policy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: ​The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to using our influence to defend Freedom of Religion or Belief as a universal human right which should be enjoyed by everyone. That is why the Prime Minister appointed me as her Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

 

The UK regularly raises this topic through Ministers, our diplomatic network and at the Human Rights Council. In recent years we have seen reports of a particular rise in the persecution of Christians. The Foreign Secretary launched the independent review of FCO support for persecuted Christians on 30 January. The Review is led by the Bishop of Truro. It will map levels of persecution and discrimination against Christians around the world, and provide robust recommendations on how the FCO can respond. The Bishop has now submitted his interim report and will submit his final report in the Summer.


The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL16021 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representation they will be sending to the United States Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, due to be held on 16 to 18 July.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The UK will be represented at the US Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The full list of representation is yet to be confirmed but I do plan to attend as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL16022 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians: Interim Report, published on 3 May.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Foreign Secretary thanked the Bishop of Truro for the Interim Report published on 3 May and commented that the findings on the scale and severity of Christian persecution worldwide make for sobering reading. We now look forward to the final report in due course. Once the final report is published, an assessment of the Review will follow. This will enable the Review to maintain its independence.


The Lord Bishop of Leeds:  HL16019 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Wilton Park Statement on assisting religious minorities in humanitarian crises, published on 9 May.

Baroness Sugg: DFID has reviewed and assessed the Wilton Park Statement on assisting religious minorities in humanitarian crises. The Wilton Park Conference brought together and found common ground between an unprecedented gathering of human rights activists, humanitarian organisations, representatives of governments and international organisations and faith groups. The statement illustrates how the different approaches can be complimentary. Whilst clearly recognising that humanitarian responses have to be guided by the principles of impartiality and assistance provided on the basis of need alone, the statement provides guidance to assist humanitarian practitioners determine whether vulnerable groups and religious minorities are most at risk and how to encourage and facilitate the participation and partnership of local and national religious communities in determining specific needs of vulnerable religious minority individuals and communities.


The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL16020 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to implement the recommendations set out in the Wilton Park Statement on assisting religious minorities in humanitarian crises, published on 9 May.
Baroness Sugg: DFID has reviewed and assessed the Wilton Park Statement on assisting religious minorities in humanitarian crises. Policy Teams will investigate how to incorporate the recommendations into their policy plans.