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Middle East: Ancient Churches

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will discuss with their international partners the status of ancient churches in the Middle East; and whether representations should be made to national Governments regarding measures to protect minorities.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

The effective promotion of human rights, including religious freedom, is at the very heart of our foreign policy. We will continue to raise freedom of religion or belief with other Governments when necessary. We will also work in the UN and with other international organisations to uphold universal standard, including the status of churches in the middle east. The UK will continue to defend the right of all people to practise their religion or belief freely.

All of our embassies and high commissions have a responsibility to monitor and raise human rights in their host countries. Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff routinely raise our concerns with host Governments and where possible they take action on individual cases and lobby for changes in discriminatory practices and laws.

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