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Bangladesh: Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 8692, tabled on 4 September 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 8 June 2015 to Question 835, what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Bangladesh about religious freedom in that country; and what support the UK is offering to the authorities in that country to protect secular campaigners from religious violence.

Answered on

14 September 2015

The UK has been resolute in its condemnation of the murders of four secular bloggers and activists in Bangladesh this year. In my statement following the most recent murder on 7 August, I said that freedom of speech is a universal right which must be protected and I called for an urgent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. The UK is fully committed to the protection of freedom of religion or belief and supports the freedom of people of all faiths – and those of none – to express and practice their beliefs in peace and safety.

Together with other diplomatic missions in Dhaka, the British High Commission has called on the government and law enforcement authorities to take all necessary steps to protect those at risk for expressing their opinions. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights and Democracy Programme has also supported a project by Article 19 in Bangladesh to work with bloggers to develop a Charter of Bloggers Rights, provide safety training and produce a review of current legislation restricting online expression. We welcome the visit to Bangladesh from 31 August to 9 September of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief and look forward to reading his report.