To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle the persecution of Christians in (a) Pakistan and (b) Nigeria.
5 September 2019
We are deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians, as we are about those of other faiths or beliefs, in many parts of the world. The former Foreign Secretary commissioned an Independent Review into the subject, led by the Bishop of Truro, and the Government has accepted all of its recommendations.
Officials and Ministers regularly raise the protection of minority communities, including religious minorities, with the Pakistani Government. The former Foreign Secretary discussed the treatment of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during his visit to the UK in June 2019. Minister of State, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, raised our concerns with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister on 19 February. We have also supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom and, in November 2018, announced a new £12m fund to bolster the work of civil society and NGOs to promote respect, and the value of religious diversity and tolerance.
The UK is committed to supporting Nigeria in upholding the right to freedom of religion or belief, as protected by its constitution. The recent escalation in intercommunal violence has affected multiple states of Nigeria and communities of all religions. We regularly engage faith-based organisations and raise our concerns with the Nigerian government. In northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa seek to undermine the right to freedom of religion by attacking both Muslims and Christians who do not subscribe to their extremist views. The UK remains committed to supporting Nigeria in tackling the insurgency through a substantial and increasing package of security, humanitarian and development support.