The UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief welcomes the publication of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s work to support persecuted Christians.
The report outlines the dramatic and deeply worrying scale of Christian persecution globally. It also rightly highlights that persecution for one’s religion or beliefs is not limited to Christians, or indeed any one religious or non-religious group. Violations of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are something that all religious or belief communities face in some part of the world and protecting any one group requires promoting respect and tolerance for all. As was stated by three of the most eminent academics in the field of freedom of religion or belief, Sir Malcolm Evans, Dr Nazila Ghanea and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, in their letter to the Sunday Telegraph on Feb 10th, “seeking to protect some from persecution necessarily requires seeking to protect all from persecution”.
Therefore, the APPG welcomes the report’s focus on recommendations to advance the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief for all.
The APPG suggests caution around recommendation 3, which asks the UK Government “ to name the phenomenon of Christian persecution and discrimination”, as such an action could have unintended negative consequences for Christians.
However, the APPG strongly encourages the next leader of the Conservative Party to assess and implement the other recommendations made in the report and echoes its call for a follow-up independent mechanism to be established in three years’ time to ensure that this has been done.