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Eritrea: Christianity

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the risks to Christian communities in Eritrea.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The Government of Eritrea permits and regulates the practice of three Christian religions: Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran, as well as Sunni Islam. The majority of worshippers from these permitted religions are able to practice their religion freely. I am concerned that those from minority unregistered religions, such as the Pentecostal Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses, face regular persecution and detention without trial, as well some practising permitted religions, who face occasional censorship.

We regularly raise our concerns about human rights in Eritrea with the Government, as my predecessor did with the Eritrean President's senior adviser when she saw him in July 2019. Our Ambassador in Asmara raised arbitrary detentions of members of the Christian community with the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 20 May 2019 and with the President's senior adviser on 14 August 2019. At the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in 2019 the UK reiterated calls for Eritrea to respect freedom of religion or belief. Eritrea remains a priority country for the FCO under our annual human rights reporting and we will continue to monitor the situation.

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