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Eritrea: Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL633, tabled on 26 May 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of religious freedom in Eritrea; and what representations have they made to the government of Eritrea about the ongoing house arrest of Abune Antonios.

Answered on

10 June 2021

We remain concerned about the human rights situation in Eritrea, including the arrests of religious figures such as Patriarch Abune Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewadho Church who has been detained for over 15 years. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief raised Patriarch Abune Antonios' case with the Eritrean Ambassador on 20 May, and our Ambassador in Asmara tweeted to call for the Patriarch and others detained for their faith to be released.

The UK Government takes every opportunity to voice our concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions in Eritrea on the basis of religion or belief, and has called for the release of such worshippers. We have done so directly with the Government of Eritrea and publicly through our annual reporting on human rights and at the UN Human Rights Council. The UK raised Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Eritrea in a statement by the UK's International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council. We also encouraged Eritrea to make progress on their commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process including the promotion of FoRB. Eritrea remains a priority country under our annual human rights reporting, and we will continue to monitor the situation there. The Minister for Africa raised human rights when he met the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK on 16 March.