Press release

Review into Christian persecution catalyst for action

A report commissioned by the Foreign Secretary into Foreign Office support for persecuted Christians calls for government to implement bold recommendations.

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The report, carried out by the Bishop of Truro and published today, records widespread evidence of the kind of persecution and discrimination that Christians face worldwide.

It also points to evidence that Christians constitute by far the most widely persecuted religion.

The review into the persecution of Christians outlines the seriousness of the challenge, and makes recommendations for how the Foreign Office can better address the issue. This includes calling for action at the United Nations, including a Resolution to allow UN observers to monitor necessary security measures.

Speaking ahead of the launch, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen said:

Addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves represents a step change for democratic governments. My hope is that in adopting my recommendations the Foreign Office will be able to bring its considerable experience and expertise to bear in helping some of the planet’s most vulnerable people.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief said:

Freedom of Religion or Belief has been a key priority for the FCO within our human rights agenda in recent years. Both strategically and through a focus on priority countries, we have not only raised the profile of religious persecution and abuse, but also acted on the rising tide of Christian persecution across the world with some success.

We therefore note the findings of this independent report and will consider the recommendations carefully and how they may further enhance our work in tackling Christian persecution specifically and in strengthening our work on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The report highlights the shocking impunity with which discriminatory laws, fear and violence are used by state and non-state actors to discriminate appallingly against Christians in countries across the world.

Review into Christian persecution

Recommendations for the Foreign Office include:

  • seek a Security Council Resolution urging all governments in the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians, and other persecuted minorities, and allow UN observers to monitor the necessary security measures
  • identify a label for Christian persecution, to better inform and develop tailored Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) policies in response
  • consider imposing sanctions on perpetrators of serious human rights abuses against religious minorities, including Christians
  • establish a stream of the Magna Carta Fund, dedicated to helping persecuted Christians
  • all Foreign Office staff – at home and abroad – should have mandatory training on religious literacy, subject to resources
  • British embassies and high commissions in relevant countries should deliver tailored responses to any violations of freedom of religion or belief

Background

  • the Foreign Secretary commissioned the review in December 2018 and the interim report was released in early May
  • the Review draws on information from non-governmental organisations, charities, reporting from the FCO’s global network, from first-hand interviews with religious leaders across the world, and from those who have suffered persecution directly
  • The non-government organisation Open Doors estimates that in 2019, 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution or “on average 345 Christians are killed every month for faith-related issues”.

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Published 8 July 2019