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Mubarak Bala

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 15th June 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Nigerian counterpart on the arrest of Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, on 28 April 2020.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The UK Government is monitoring the arrest of Mr Bala closely. I raised Mr Bala's case with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs on 21 May. Our High Commission in Abuja has also discussed the case with the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Police. The recent update from the Nigerian authorities is that Mr Bala has been charged with 'insulting contempt of religious creed and insulting public disturbances' under the penal code and racist and xenophobic offences under the cybercrime act. The charges are made under Kano State Law.

The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP, is also engaged and has raised this matter with international counterparts. On 6 May, Mr Chishti spoke to the Chief Executive of Humanists UK and stressed the UK's close monitoring of the case. The Minister of State responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, also discussed Mr Bala's case with the Chief Executive of Humanists UK on 20 May.

We will continue to stress the importance of a transparent investigation that respects Mr Bala's human rights, the rule of law, and the Nigerian constitutional right to freedom of religion or belief. Defending freedom of religion or belief for all remains a UK policy priority and we will continue to use our voice internationally to protect this human right, championed by Mr Chishti.

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