Commonwealth: Religious Freedom:Written question - HL2807

Asked on: 01 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commonwealth: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are taking steps ahead of the Commonwealth Summit in 2018 to document levels of government restrictions and societal hostility towards religious freedom across the Commonwealth.
A
Answered on: 20 November 2017

Her Majesty's Government remains firmly committed to the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in all countries. Throughout our diplomatic network, including our High Commissions, diplomats are instructed to take account of human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief and report back to London.

On International Religious Freedom Day, I wrote to all Ambassadors and High Commissioners regarding the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO)'s work to protect and promote FoRB globally. I have also initiated a series of roundtable discussions on FoRB with civil society and faith leaders to increase our collaboration in this area. Ministers and officials raise individual cases with relevant authorities and highlight practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief. We also speak out publicly in support of FoRB, for example during my recent visit to Bangladesh in August 2017, I visited the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Dhaka and made a call for religious tolerance. We also include reporting on FoRB in our Annual Human Rights Report, which includes some Commonwealth countries.

To support staff working on these issues, the FCO has re-issued its revised "toolkit" on FoRB and continues to provide training and seminars to increase religious literacy amongst staff.

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