Bishop of Chelmsford asks about routes to the UK for persecuted Christians in Iran

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question on whether the government would consider providing a safe route scheme for those persecuted on account of their faith in Iran on 23rd May 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, in a recently published joint annual report by Article 18 and other Christian organisations, the IRGC’s increasing involvement in the crackdown against peaceful Christian activities in Iran was highlighted for the second year in a row. Other religious minorities and peaceful protesters also report violent treatment during arrest and detention, as well as the interference of the IRGC’s intelligence branch in court proceedings to ensure harsher sentences against those who are accused. I absolutely agree with the noble Lords who are pressing for proscription, but given all of this, does the Minister agree that we can and should do more, beyond proscription of the IRGC? Will the Government consider offering a safe route scheme for those from Iran who have suffered persecution in the form of arrest and imprisonment on account of their faith?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): I thank the right reverend Prelate for her question; she raised some interesting points. I remind noble Lords that the National Security Bill, currently progressing through your Lordships’ House, will provide another significant toolkit in the fight against individuals working for state entities like the IRGC in this country—the Bill will criminalise a wide range of hostile activities. I totally accept the right reverend Prelate’s points. I cannot comment on safe routes for Iranian individuals, but I will make sure that her views are taken back.


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