Freedom of Religion – letter to The Sunday Telegraph

Freedom of religion

SIR – As persons with experience of international human rights protection over the past two decades, we welcome the commitment of greater diplomatic efforts in the human rights field – in this instance religious persecution.

Political responses to such violations fall well short of the scale of the global problem; and the determination of the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt – who has commissioned a review into the persecution of Christians – to draw attention to this is timely.

Our observation is that couching this review even more broadly, and in the context of persecution against those of all religions and beliefs (including those of no religion), will greatly enhance its effectiveness internationally.

Seeking to protect some from persecution necessarily requires seeking to protect all from persecution. Upholding full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief (which includes the freedom of worship) would enhance its enjoyment by all, whether believer, non-believer or ambivalent.

Britain can rightly draw attention to the inclusive nature of its diplomacy in advancing this freedom over many years. This is an opportunity for redoubling and reinforcing these efforts in the light of increasingly abhorrent violations.

Ahmed Shaheed
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Nazila Ghanea
Associate Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford

Sir Malcolm Evans
Professor of International Law, Bristol University

The Sunday Telegraph, Letters, 10 February 2019