Persecution of Religious Minorities: Middle East — [Graham Stringer in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 10:45 am on 19th July 2016.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister for Immigration 10:45 am, 19th July 2016

There may be some similarities in the skills needed, but specifically we need to train people working for UKVI in the type of work they are doing. Not only is there the extensive five-week training programme for new caseworkers, which addresses all aspects of asylum decision making, including religious-based claims and religious conversion, but we also need to look at some types of interpreters who may be antagonistic to the religion of the person, where that person has converted, and ensure that if the interpreter is not appropriate, we find an appropriate person to provide that service.

The Government are committed to delivering a robust, comprehensive strategy to defeat Daesh in Syria and Iraq as a leading member of the global coalition of 66 countries and international organisations. We are attacking Daesh militarily, squeezing its finances, disrupting the flow of fighters to its cause, challenging its poisonous ideology and working to stabilise areas liberated from its control. Our strategy is working. Thousands of people have so far been freed from Daesh’s rule and have been able to return safely to their homes.

The UK is leading the international policy debate. We are pursuing a comprehensive approach, both responding to the immediate humanitarian crisis and using our aid programmes to bring stability, jobs and livelihoods, reducing the pressures that force people to migrate. In February we hosted the Syria conference, which not only raised more in a single day than any previous event, but established a new approach to providing long-term support to neighbouring countries and the displaced Syrians to whom they are hosts. Our commitment to the 0.7% aid target ensures that we have the resources to demonstrate our global leadership in responding to emergencies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton wondered whether the Government agree that evidence must be collected for prosecutions against those who persecute religious minorities, and we are clear that those responsible for the heinous crimes that are committed—whether or not those are formally declared to be genocide—must face justice and be held accountable for their crimes. The UK co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution to refer all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, regardless of affiliation, to the International Criminal Court, and we will continue to press that.