On 20 and 21 February Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the following two questions:
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was asked what progress they have made in fulfilling their 2015 manifesto commitment to “Stand up for the freedom of people of all religions—and non-religious people—to practice their beliefs in peace and safety, for example by supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East”.
Baroness Anelay replied “It is the Government’s policy to promote freedom of religion or belief in all parts of the world where it is challenged or undermined. We do this in many different ways. Through our bilateral work we continue to lobby host governments, to raise individual cases and highlight practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief.
Multilaterally, we work to sustain consensus on the adoption and implementation of two important Resolutions: the European Union’s resolution on ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief’ and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s resolution on ‘Combating Religious Intolerance’.
“We also support a number of projects through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO’s) Magna Carta Fund. For example, we continue to support a network of human rights defenders in South Asia.
“In October 2016, the FCO hosted a groundbreaking international conference to draw attention to the importance of freedom of religion or belief to global efforts to counter violent extremism. In the Middle East, our principal policy designed to prevent the persecution of religious minorities – including Christians – is our support for the international effort to defeat Daesh and return the region to stability and peace.”
The Department for International Development was asked what assessment they have made of the link between the protection of religious minority groups and alleviating global poverty.
On 2 March Lord Bates answered “A commitment to human rights underpins the four strategic objectives of the Government’s UK Aid Strategy, which include tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable. Freedom of belief is one of a range of human rights that DFID considers through its Partnership Principles Assessments when providing financial support to governments.”