Thank you for contacting me about the worldwide persecution of Christians and for inviting me to the launch of Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List on 19 January, hosted by my parliamentary colleague Theresa Villiers, which I was unfortunately unable to attend however a member of my team attended on my behalf.
My ministerial colleagues and I are committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Indeed, promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities.
That is why I am glad the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, was published in 2019.
The Government has committed to implementing the Bishop’s 22 recommendations in full, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvements in the lives of those persecuted because of their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations, the UK has fully delivered 10, made good progress on a further 8, and ministers are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.
I welcome the appointment of Fiona Bruce MP as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and, on 20 January, of David Burrowes as Deputy Envoy, to drive forward this agenda. Some of the recommendations will take longer to implement and will require an ongoing effort to embed into the working practice of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Bilaterally, ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and do not shy away from challenging publicly or in private those we believe are not meeting their obligations. The FCDO also works via multilateral fora, such as the UN, G7, OSCE, Council of Europe, and the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance to promote and protect FoRB for all. The UK will host an international ministerial conference on FoRB in July 2022 to energise collective efforts on this agenda.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.