Bishop of Rochester calls for targeted sanctions to defend freedom of religion or belief, and protection for Uighurs in China

On 29th July the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon “Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020”. The Right Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, spoke in the debate.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, welcome this new regime of sanctions, but we must of course ensure that targeted sanctions do not become empty gestures. As other noble Lords have indicated, these sanctions will be most effective when they are consistent with other foreign policy priorities and done through co-ordinated, collective action. Without the support of a wider coalition, we risk being isolated diplomatically.

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Bishop of Rochester asks Government about commitment to poverty reduction when DfID and Foreign Office merge

On 27th July Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked Her Majesty’s Government “how the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development will enhance the United Kingdom’s ability to help (1) the poorest, and (2) the most vulnerable, communities abroad.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on poverty reduction.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in this context will the Minister give assurances that the Government will continue to adhere to their stated commitment to poverty reduction, observing both the letter and spirit of domestic development legislation, including not only the matter the Minister has already mentioned—the 0.7% GDP target—but matters such as independent evaluation of impact and gender equality, and that any deviation from the present pattern will be debated and agreed both here and in the other House?

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Bishop of Southwark asks Government about dialogue and peace prospects in Israel and Palestine

On 27th July the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, received written answers to three questions on Israel and Palestine.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL6801 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what diplomatic engagement they have had with the Middle East Quartet since 31 January.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government to help strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Bahrain

On 8th July 2020 Baroness D’Souza asked the Government “what representations they will make to the Government of Bahrain regarding the imprisonment and possible execution of individuals including Mohamed Ramadan and Hussain Moosa, and the reported use of torture to extract their confessions.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, the Minister has assured the House that representations have been made to the authorities in Bahrain expressing our complete and utter opposition to the death penalty. Has he also reiterated our opposition to the use of torture to extract confessions? Will Her Majesty’s Government review their existing package of reform assistance to Bahrain to see what further support can be offered to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Bahrain? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to help strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Bahrain”

Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid

On 18th June 2020 a Government statement on the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, responded:

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for answering questions on this matter. On these Benches, we affirm the Government’s right to organise themselves as they think best for the common good. We look forward to greater integration between foreign and development policy and values, and we warmly commend the continued 0.7% commitment. I am grateful to have heard the noble Baroness’s assurance that the Government will remain committed to the OECD DAC rules—it would be lovely to have that repeated. Can we have another assurance that the Government will preserve the primary focus of UK aid as poverty reduction? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about freedom of religion in China

On 17th June Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of their relationship with the government of China; whether they intend to alter that relationship; and if so, how they intend to do so”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question, focusing on freedom of religion and belief.

Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, inevitably, trade and defence issues will play an important part in our relationship with China. Will the Minister assure us that issues of freedom of religion or belief will not be overlooked? Estimates suggest that between 900,000 and 1.8 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang province. What plans have the Government made to join our American allies in sanctioning those responsible for the oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang?

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Bishop of St Albans raises questions about national security legislation and religious freedoms in Hong Kong

On 4th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Anelay of St Johns, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact on human rights in Hong Kong of the national security legislation proposed in the National People’s Congress of China.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

 

Bishops of Durham and St Albans debate international response to Covid-19

On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

20.04.30 Durham 2The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about demolition of churches and arrests of Christians in China

On 18th May 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question about demolition of churches and arrest of Christians in China:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL3843 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of (1) churches being demolished, in particular the demolition of the Donghu Church, Qinghai Province, and (2) Christians streaming religious services at home being arrested, in China Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about demolition of churches and arrests of Christians in China”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about representations to Israel on West Bank settlements

800px-Official_portrait_of_The_Lord_Bishop_of_Southwark_(cropped)On 13th May, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, received a written answer from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on Israeli Settlements in the West Bank.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL3520 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about its plans to commence discussions from 1 July on applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and other territory in the occupied West Bank.

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