Persecution of Christians

My ministerial colleagues and I are committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Indeed, promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities.

That is why I am glad the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, was published in 2019.

The Government has committed to implementing the Bishop’s 22 recommendations in full, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvements in the lives of those persecuted because of their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations, the UK has fully delivered 10, made good progress on a further 8, and ministers are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.

I welcome the appointment of Fiona Bruce MP as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief to drive forward this agenda. Some of the recommendations will take longer to implement and will require an ongoing effort to embed into the working practice of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The FCDO regularly engages with Open Doors UK and has taken note of the 2021 World Watch List report and its findings. I am glad that the report has praised the UK Government for the many positive advances it has made.