CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON THE TREATMENT OF PAKISTAN’S CHRISTIANS AND OTHER MINORITIES – NOVEMBER HEARINGS AT WESTMINSTER
All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief
Parliamentary Inquiry Call for Evidence
‘The Plight of Minority Religious or Belief Groups in Pakistan and as Refugees: Addressing Current UK & UNHCR Policy’
Pakistan represents one of the worst situations for minority religious or belief groups around the world and is rife with persecution on the grounds of religion or belief by both state and non-state actors. With the current policies and laws that Pakistani officials are advancing at both international and domestic levels, including the notorious blasphemy laws, the right of Pakistan’s citizens to freedom of religion or belief is looking unlikely to be upheld and protected in the near future. In addition to these concerns, the UK Home Office and UNHCR, relying it seems on the recent UK Supreme Court Upper Tier case (AK and SK (Christians: risk) Pakistan CG  UKUT 569 (IAC)), appears to have a policy that Pakistani religious minorities treatment is not severe enough to grant these individuals refugee status.
While freedom of religion or belief is a protected right under international law and is a clear basis for asylum in the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as the UK’s current vulnerable persons relocation scheme, the key question remains in UK and international institutions whether all Pakistani minority religious or belief communities’ treatment in Pakistan or abroad ‘amounts to a real risk of persecution’.
In order to be able to look at the current UK and UNHCR policy regarding minority Pakistani religious or belief groups and its validity, the current conditions for such groups living in Pakistan and as refugees will need to be understood. The APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief is currently calling for submissions from charities, experts, lawyers, academics, faith-communities and individuals with personal experiences on their concerns, and suggestions on:
- What circumstances minority religious or belief groups living in Pakistan currently face; both vis-à-vis State and non-State actors
- What circumstances minority religious or belief groups having left Pakistan as asylum seekers currently face
- What the current UK and UNHCR policy regarding each minority Pakistani religious or belief community is, whether changes to current policy are required, how these policies and Upper Tier Tribunal Decisions are related, and how any changes should be done
We particularly welcome testimonies from individuals who have recently sought asylum in UK on the grounds of persecution for their faith or belief.
Each submission should be no longer than 3 pages, and clearly indicate the organisation and/or author of the statement. The submissions will contribute to a new report written by the APPG on the subject. The APPG can withhold the identities of authors of statements in the report, if a request for anonymity is clearly made in the submission.
Written submissions may result in individuals or organisations being invited to give oral testimonies at a formal hearing in the Houses of Parliament before selected parliamentarians on 10 November (9:00 – 10:30) and 11 November(10:00 – 12:00) in Portcullis House, Room R. The APPG holds the right to use or not to use submissions in its reporting.
Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . The deadline for submissions is 5.00pm, 3 November 2015.