Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to raise the plight of persecuted Christians abroad; and what steps he is taking to raise the case of Meriam Ibrahim with his Sudanese counterpart.

Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I am appalled at the death sentence given to Meriam Ibrahim, and her continued imprisonment. Immediately following her trial, I issued a statement describing her conviction as barbaric and calling upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief and international human rights laws as enshrined in its own constitution. The chargé d’affaires of the Sudanese embassy in London was summoned to the Foreign Office on 19 May at the request of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague). The Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend Lynne Featherstone, reiterated our demand to the Sudanese Foreign Minister when she met him on 20 May. Our embassy in Khartoum, which attended her trial, continues to press the Sudanese authorities for Meriam Ibrahim's release, and is in close contact with the defence team.

This is a priority human rights area for us. We speak out regularly against violence perpetrated against Christians. The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi), gave a speech in Washington in November last year on the need for unity in confronting the intolerance and sectarianism that leads to minority communities being persecuted. We also lobby for changes in discriminatory laws and practices that affect religious minorities, including Christians, and support UN resolutions on the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

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