To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on levels of Christian persecution.
The UK remains deeply concerned by the severity and scale of violations and abuses of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in many parts of the world. We are continuing to assess the impact of COVID-19 on members of all minority religious and belief communities, including Christians. We are concerned by the secondary effects of the pandemic including incidents of hate speech. Such incidents are unacceptable, and the UK will continue to refute these divisive and harmful claims. We are also concerned by the rise in conspiracy theories that certain faiths or beliefs are to blame for the pandemic, and reports that some Christian communities have been denied access to aid and information.
As part of our ongoing work to promote FoRB for all, we have issued a statement calling for states to ensure that any restrictions to the right to FoRB are necessary, proportionate and time-limited to protect public health. The Minister for Human Rights, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, also urged states to take steps to mitigate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society, including religious and belief minorities, during the UK's closing statement at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The UK Government remains committed to implementing the recommendations from the Bishop of Truro's independent Review on persecuted Christians in full. Work is continuing to implement the recommendations in a way that will bring real improvements in the lives of those persecuted because of their faith, belief, or those of no religious belief. Defending the right to FoRB for all remains a priority for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.