Lord Bishop of Coventry Portrait

Lord Bishop of Coventry

Bishops - Former Member for Bishops

Became Member: 19th November 2012


Lord Bishop of Coventry is not a member of any APPGs
AI in Weapon Systems Committee
31st Jan 2023 - 6th Nov 2023


Division Voting information

Lord Bishop of Coventry has voted in 22 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Lord Bishop of Coventry Division Votes

All Debates

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(14 debate interactions)
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative)
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(10 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(7 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Elections Act 2022
(954 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Lord Bishop of Coventry's debates

Lords initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Bishop of Coventry, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.


Lord Bishop of Coventry has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Lord Bishop of Coventry has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


224 Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
6th Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many funding proposals on freedom of religion or belief have been received by the Cabinet Office’s Commonwealth Summit Unit’s Kickstart programme; how many of those proposals were successful; and what was the value of the successful proposals.

The Kickstart Fund is designed to support preparatory work ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting next April. The Commonwealth Summit Unit received one bid on Freedom of Religion and Belief which was not successful.

The Unit is currently considering programmes for the UK's Commonwealth Chair-in-Office period, the two years following the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018. While funding through the Kickstart Fund for a programme of events on Freedom of Religion and Belief has not been specifically allocated ahead of the summit, agreement has been reached that the Government will support the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in hosting a forum. This will bring parliamentarians from around the Commonwealth together for important discussions across the key challenges facing the Commonwealth, including upholding the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth Summit Unit has also provided £20,000 to the Royal Commonwealth Society to support its interfaith service, which will take place in Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day in March 2018.

The Government remains firmly committed to the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief in all countries. The Prime Minister has announced the four themes for the summit: prosperity, security, sustainability and fairness. The summit will encourage all Commonwealth members to uphold the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including religious freedom.

21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further consultation opportunities they will provide for those involved in the education of SEND students within further education colleges to inform the development of policy following the SEND green paper consultation.

The department will continue to work with partners, including further education providers, to design a national Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) improvement plan. This will be published later this year and will set out in detail how we will deliver improvements to the SEND and AP system, including in further education. In autumn, the department will establish a National SEND and AP Board to lead improvements in the system across education, health, and care. We will set out the board’s role and membership, including how we will ensure the voices and lived experiences of children, young people and their families are at the heart of the board discussions.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure sufficient funding for arts and humanities subjects in higher education in the (1) short, and (2) long, term; and what assessment they have made of (a) the potential shortfall in funding after the cessation of funding from the European Research Council ceases, and (b) general pressures on funding for arts and humanities subjects in higher education.

The government recognises the importance of the creative arts to the economy and the UK’s soft power. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services and is culturally-enriching for our society.

For the 2022/23 academic year, the Office for Students has increased the high-cost subject funding rate per student for performing and creative arts and media studies to £125.76, a rise of 3.51%, and for archaeology to £264.50, a rise of 4.75%, from the previous year. The department has also increased funding for world-leading specialist providers, including 11 providers specialising in the arts, by an additional £5 million in the 2022/23 financial year, on top of the increase of £10 million provided in the 2021/22 financial year. The department wants to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students, including those with an interest in the cultural and creative sectors.

UK Research and Innovation is also providing significant investment over the current Spending Review period, with funding for the Arts and Humanities Research Council totalling £207 million for the 2022/23 to 2024/25 financial years.

Research England has published its funding decisions for university research and knowledge exchange, expected to be £8 billion over the Spending Review period. Proportional allocations across disciplinary areas have been maintained, recognising the significant contribution to culture and quality of life from the arts and humanities.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help people around the world who are dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, particularly in relation to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is at the forefront of supporting those in need of humanitarian assistance and we are actively working with international partners to better track, monitor and respond to the impact of COVID-19 on food security.

To date, the UK has committed £744 million to the global response. We are a key contributor to the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which is helping the most vulnerable access the support they need. We have provided considerable support to the World Food Programme to secure the continuity of supply chains for essential commodities and services, and to pre-position food supplies.

Through existing programmes, we also continue to work with partners to tackle acute food insecurity and malnutrition and provide food to millions of people. We are supporting the UN Food and Agriculture Office to tackle the current locust plague, including providing livestock feed and planting material for farmers already facing economic uncertainty due to COVID-19. We are also repurposing programmes to address the impact of COVID-19 on food security including to monitor food prices and stocks.

30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that religious minorities in countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have equal access to humanitarian assistance.

The UK Government works to ensure that all aid reaches the most vulnerable including those from religious minorities. Vulnerable populations will experience COVID-19 outbreaks differently. COVID-19 is likely to reinforce their marginalised position in society, their experience of discrimination, violence and stigma, and further limit their access to essential support and services. For this reason, guidance was circulated across DFID highlighting that inclusion must be central to our response and the specific contexts and needs of all religious minorities should be taken into account when developing practical programmes to tackle COVID-19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help minimise the risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to those currently living in refugee camps in Syria.

The UK recognises that individuals in refugee camps are more vulnerable to COVID-19. In Syria the UK is one of the leading donors supporting international efforts to deliver vital healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene activities; all of which help to mitigate the threat posed by COVID-19.

DFID’s current support in Syria includes training for health workers; educational material to raise awareness on health and sanitation; provision of infection, prevention, and control supplies; and cash assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The UK is monitoring the situation closely and working with humanitarian partners inside Syria to respond to the outbreak and to sustain life-saving services.

DFID has pledged £200 million of humanitarian aid to support the UK’s global efforts to combat the outbreak, this includes support for IDPs and those in refugee camps. £65 million of this contribution is for the World Health Organisation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our most recent funding also includes new support to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and to UNICEF to help install new hand-washing stations and isolation and treatment centres in refugee camps, as well as provide protection services and education opportunities for forcibly displaced children.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to limit the vulnerability of refugees around the world to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the main risks to ending the COVID-19 pandemic is the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems. Those countries already struggling with humanitarian crises will be particularly stretched. Refugees are amongst the most vulnerable. They often live in close quarters without access to proper healthcare or shelter, many in crowded and unsanitary camps where social distancing and regular handwashing are almost impossible.

The UK has long been supportive of initiatives to build resilience amongst refugees and their host communities, including in health and disease control. We have done this through programmes that are providing access to public health information, clean water, sanitation and health services. We are also working closely with all our international partners to coordinate a global response that includes actions to address the vulnerability of refugee populations.

We have committed £744 million to date in the fight against COVID-19. Our most recent funding includes new support to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and to UNICEF to help install new hand-washing stations and isolation and treatment centres in refugee camps as well as provide protection services and education opportunities for forcibly displaced children.

1st Apr 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing, if any, to the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.

The UK is not providing support to the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. The UK continually monitors the humanitarian situation in Gaza and we are aware of the significant strain on the health sector. We have recently announced that we will be providing £2 million to the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) Appeal to contribute to the delivery of urgently needed surgical equipment, medicines, wound dressing kits, prosthetic limbs and post-surgery physiotherapy. It will also provide physical rehabilitation services for up to 3,000 disabled people. The UK’s commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) currently provides vital health services for around 3 million Palestinian refugees and provides over 800,000 Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and East Jerusalem access to basic healthcare. The UK remains deeply engaged on the challenges facing Gaza’s health sector and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

1st Apr 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the progress of (1) material, and (2) social, reconstruction in Iraq.

The fight against Daesh led to widespread damage to infrastructure, housing and communities across Iraq. The World Bank has estimated the cost of material reconstruction to be at least £67 billion. An unquantifiable but equally serious social cost has simultaneously been exacted on Iraqi society.

The UN has spearheaded stabilisation efforts with its Funding Facility for Stabilisation (FFS), which helps stabilise areas liberated from Daesh by repairing infrastructure and vital facilities such as hospitals and schools. To date, almost 1400 projects have been completed by the FFS. The FFS has been the largest recipient of the UK’s own stabilisation funding in Iraq.

There are also numerous examples of International Community-led activities focused on social cohesion and reconciliation. The FFS works to build cohesion amongst communities as the displaced return to their homes. Alongside this, the UK has spent £2.68 million targeting community safety and reintegration projects in Salah-al-Din and Nineveh.

The UK and International Community will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraq as it rebuilds post-Daesh. However, as the immediate crisis recedes, only the Government of Iraq has the mandate, tools and capacity to take the primary role in driving systematic, long-term reconstruction across the country.

5th Sep 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what humanitarian assistance they are providing to help alleviate the emerging humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State in Burma.

Since 2012, the UK has provided over £30 million in humanitarian assistance in Rakhine state, including food and sanitation for over 126,000 people. Our partners are delivering humanitarian assistance to more than 80,000 people in the non-conflict zones of Rakhine State. We continue to strongly urge the Burmese authorities to allow the access of aid, food and medication to all affected communities in Rakhine and we are working closely with them to support this. In northern Rakhine DFID partners are ready to provide emergency food assistance to 30,000 people and to treat more than 3,000 severely malnourished children and pregnant women once access is granted. DFID has also committed £10.9 million to meet the needs of displaced Rohingya and the host communities who support them in Bangladesh.

2nd Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 20 February (HL5245), which faith-based organisations in Iraq have applied for access to UK funding through the UN-managed Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund.

Organisations can apply for funding from the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund (IHPF) after completing an assessment to make sure that they have the capacity to deliver high quality humanitarian assistance. A list of all the organisations which have completed the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund capacity assessment is available on the UN OCHA Iraq website. A list of all organisations, including faith-based organisations, that received funding from the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund is published on the cbpf.unocha.org website. OCHA do not publish information about organisations which applied for funding but were unsuccessful.

2nd Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 20 February (HL5245), what steps they are taking to encourage faith-based organisations in Iraq to access UK funding through the UN-managed Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund.

UK officials in Iraq regularly meet with humanitarian organisations and direct them towards the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund (IHPF) to access funding. DFID does not differentiate in its approach between faith-based organisations and secular organisations, and supports the approach of the IHPF to provide funding to those best placed to provide assistance to those most in need. DFID officials in London meet quarterly with a working group of non-governmental organisation representatives to discuss Iraq, including many from faith-based organisations. The discussions regularly cover any concerns or questions that organisations have about access to IHPF funding.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current humanitarian situation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the existing levels of international donor support.

The Kurdistan region hosts over one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 230,000 Syrian refugees. A combination of the economic downturn in Iraq and IDP numbers has placed pressure on services in the region. The UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan was developed in coordination with both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government and has received strong donor support. It has so far received 90% of the funds needed to provide life-saving assistance to 7.3 million vulnerable Iraqis, including those living in the Kurdistan region. The UN will launch a new Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017 later this month.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to enlist the help of churches, religious institutions and communities in the provision of aid and support to those individuals in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq who have fled their homes to escape Daesh.

Faith-based organisations in Iraq are able to access UK funding through the UN-managed Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund, to which the UK is the largest donor. UK officials have met with faith-based organisations to discuss the humanitarian situation and to provide guidance on how to access the fund. UK Officials in the Kurdistan region are in regular contact with the Christian, Yezidi, and Muslim community leaders, and have participated in a Religious Dialogue Conference where all religions of the Kurdistan region were represented. All UK-funded humanitarian aid in the Kurdistan Region is distributed on the basis of need, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that humanitarian, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts in areas of Iraq liberated from Daesh include provision for psycho-social post-trauma counselling and rehabilitation for traumatised individuals and communities.

In areas of Iraq recently liberated by Daesh the UK is supporting UNICEF to provide lifesaving response services for victims of gender based violence, and the International Organisation for Migration to deliver general clinical and trauma care, including mental health services. The UK is the largest contributor to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund, which responds to the most urgent needs of vulnerable Iraqis. This has included psychosocial support services for over 2,700 people, and referrals to specialist legal services for hundreds of survivors of torture and sexual violence.

22nd Mar 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that they have sufficient measures in place to meet any humanitarian need arising from military efforts to liberate Mosul from Daesh.

Since June 2014, the UK has committed £79.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Iraq. We are the largest contributor to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund, which can provide rapid disbursements in the event of crises, such as sudden population displacements resulting from military operations. We have funded a contingency planning specialist to work with the Government of Iraq (GOI), Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the UN to support the humanitarian system in responding to needs arising from military efforts to liberate Mosul. This forms part of wider support by the UK to the GOI and KRG’s crisis response centres which have been developing humanitarian contingency plans ahead of any operations in Mosul.

15th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the merits of developing a Marshall Plan to assist Syria’s neighbours in meeting the humanitarian needs of civilians displaced by the conflict in Syria.

To date, the UK has pledged over £1 billion in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region. The UK has allocated £519 million to support refugees in the region and vulnerable host communities to date, including £279 million in Lebanon and £183 million in Jordan. In Turkey, the UK has allocated £29 million for programmes supporting Syrian refugees including food, shelter and primary healthcare. The UK is also working in partnership with multiple Turkish institutions on targeted projects to build their capacity to tackle irregular migration.

We have been working intensively in recent weeks to lobby the EU and Member States to develop a substantial package of measures on migration and economic development between now and 2020. The UK has called for a €10 billion development–focused EU migration package focusing on upstream work in source and transit countries to address the lack of jobs and opportunities for those who rightly aspire to a better life. The UK government is working with partners right across Europe to ensure that, collectively, we are able to deliver a significant and comprehensive development response to this crisis.

15th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that targeted aid reaches civilians in communities and towns under siege in Syria.

The UK is deeply concerned that, according to UN figures, 422,000 people currently live in besieged areas in Syria. DFID works with trusted humanitarian organisations that endeavour to assist these populations and others in hard-to-reach areas.

The UK strongly condemns and calls for an end to the unlawful denial of access to impartial humanitarian partners. We have been instrumental in securing the passage of three UN Security Council Resolutions – 2139, 2156 and 2191 – demanding that all parties respect international humanitarian law and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

26th Sep 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure the long-term provision of humanitarian assistance for internally displaced people in Iraq.

Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) has allocated £23 million to respond to the humanitarian crisis. £17.5 million of this is funding partners already working in Iraq to enable them to provide immediate life-saving assistance. HMG is also providing logistics, coordination and staffing support to the Kurdish and the UN systems to ensure long-term humanitarian provision.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)
26th Sep 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they are providing to the authorities in Iraq to ensure that newly born children of those displaced from northern Iraq are issued with birth registration documents.

HMG provided £1 million to UNHCR in Iraq in June 2014, which included support for 4,500 families with legal assistance, protection and support to registration. UNHCR is discussing these issues with the Government of Iraq and leading work to provide legal assistance to internally displaced persons.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)
26th Sep 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of the £600 million they have committed to the situation in Syria has been assigned to long-term civil society projects.

Following the International Development Secretary’s announcement of £100 million at United Nations General Assembly, total United Kingdom funding in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region now stands at £700 million. Of this, over 50 per cent has been allocated to projects managed by non-governmental organisations. Due to the structure of our funding, the fluidity of the situation, and the resulting need for flexibility, it is not possible to give an exact breakdown of the amount assigned to such projects, however we remain committed to supporting capacity building of local civil society in the longer term.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to respond to the humanitarian situation caused by the displacement of persons from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.

We are deeply concerned by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq. DFID deployed an advisory team to Erbil in June 2014 to conduct a rapid humanitarian assessment and has committed £5 million of humanitarian aid to respond to the level of need in the north of Iraq. This will be distributed to those most in need through trusted and long-standing humanitarian partners.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to investigate any link between the ‘two-child limit’ restricting the amount that families can receive in social security benefits and the reported rise in the number of abortions among women with two or more children.

DWP has made no such plans or assessment.

This is an uncertain time for families which is why DWP have taken unprecedented steps to support incomes and help with living costs. The support available through the welfare safety net reflects the fact that the majority of households in Britain (85%) have two or fewer children.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the study by the British Pregnancy Advice Service Forced into a corner: the two-child limit and pregnancy decision making during the pandemic, published on 3 December; and what plans they have to review the ‘two-child limit’ restricting the amount that families can receive in social security benefits.

DWP has made no such plans or assessment.

This is an uncertain time for families which is why DWP have taken unprecedented steps to support incomes and help with living costs. The support available through the welfare safety net reflects the fact that the majority of households in Britain (85%) have two or fewer children.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported rise in the number of abortions among women with two or more children.

The Department has made no such assessment. However, the Department has commissioned the King’s Fund to undertake a piece of work to provide insights into factors contributing to changing patterns of abortion uptake in England.

2nd Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what (1) humanitarian assistance, and (2) financial support, they are offering the government of Armenia to meet the needs of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK is providing £1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide life-saving medication, healthcare and other essential support to those affected by the recent conflict. The UK has also deployed medical staff, through the British government's official Emergency Medical Team, to help treat those injured in the fuel depot blast in Nagorno-Karabakh on 25 September. We are liaising with the UN, ICRC and others to assess humanitarian need in the region and if further UK assistance is required.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan to allow international observers into Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor the ceasefire agreement of 20 September.

It is vital that international humanitarian organisations have independent access into Nagorno-Karabakh, so they can assess humanitarian need and respond appropriately. His Majesty's Ambassador to Baku raised this with Azerbaijani officials, We therefore welcome Azerbaijan's decision on 1 October to allow UN agencies into Nagorno-Karabakh, to complement ongoing efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of Azerbaijan’s military offensive of 19 September in Nagorno-Karabakh; and what representations they have made to that government to encourage it to cease the offensive to allow for a resumption of negotiations with Karabakh Armenians on outstanding issues.

The return of conflict to Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 September was devastating for the local population; the subsequent ceasefire announced on 20 September must now be upheld by all parties. The Azerbaijani Government must continue to engage in talks with ethnic Armenian representatives in Nagorno-Karabakh and ensure that it delivers on its humanitarian commitments. I [Lord Ahmad] raised this at the UN Security Council on 21 September and with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister on 23 September. Direct dialogue is the only way to secure stability and security for the region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian needs of Armenian Karabakhs in Nagorno-Karabakh, following the latest military offensive of 19 September, and what assistance they are providing to meet those needs.

The humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has placed local communities under immense pressure. We welcome the news that the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have access into Nagorno-Karabakh. The UK is providing £1 million to the ICRC to provide life-saving medication, healthcare and other essential support to those affected by the recent conflict. The funding will also support the ICRC to transport the wounded and help displaced families keep in contact. We are liaising with the UN, the ICRC and others to assess humanitarian need in the region and what further UK assistance is required.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, as Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, to ensure that the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance Ministerial Conference in Prague this November is (1) informed by the experiences of affected communities, and (2) includes freedom of religion or belief experts and representatives from relevant civil society and faith-based organisations.

The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), Fiona Bruce, is working with Vice Chair of IRFBA, Ambassador Rehak of the Czech Republic, to ensure the Conference in Prague in November is inclusive, well informed by affected communities and includes FoRB experts, representatives from civil society and faith-based organisations. As outlined in our Written Ministerial Statement following the 2022 Conference [https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2022-07-15/hlws204], we continue to build partnerships with civil society focussed on key themes from the Conference, drawing on the convening power of the IRFBA to promote FoRB for all.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh; and what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan that they should guarantee the security of (1) persons, (2) vehicles and (3) cargo, moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.

We are increasingly alarmed by the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, exacerbated by the continued closure of the Lachin corridor. It is crucial that the ICJ order of February 2023 is respected to ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin corridor in both directions. The UK Government has publicly highlighted the importance of re-opening the Lachin corridor and addressing related humanitarian issues, including at the United Nations Security Council in New York on 16 August 2023 and at the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe in Vienna on 12 September 2023.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the prospect of a negotiated peace settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that provides for the wellbeing and protection of the Karabakh Armenian population.

The UK Government is clear that there is no military solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. We continue to raise the urgent need to resolve the conflict through negotiations in direct talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, as well as at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations Security Council. We urge both sides to redouble their efforts to make progress in internationally mediated negotiations, including by making provisions to protect the rights and security of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of India’s Financial Contribution Regulation Act on UK non-governmental organisations working in that country.

We are aware that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have faced difficulties in India due to the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by the Government of India. We understand that some NGOs have had applications to renew their foreign funding licenses rejected, and that such actions have a significant impact on their ability to operate in India. We have discussed issues facing NGOs with the Government of India, and we continue to monitor developments relating to the FCRA, especially its impact on the work of British NGOs in India.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of India on the impact on freedom of religion of legislation by states of that country prohibiting religious conversion.

Our network in India continue to monitor developments related to religious conversions, including legislation. The UK Government is committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all and promoting respect and tolerance between communities. We have a broad and deep partnership with the Government of India, and we discuss all elements of our relationship, including concerns where we have them. These topics were among issues I (Minister for South Asia) discussed with the Government of India, leaders of faith groups and others during my recent visit to India (27-31 May).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with leaders from civil society in India on the status and experiences of religious minorities in that country.

The British High Commission in New Delhi regularly assesses human rights across India and engages with civil society and religious representatives. We remain committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all and promoting respect and tolerance between communities. The UK Government has a broad and deep partnership with the Government of India, and we discuss all elements of our relationship, including concerns where we have them. These topics were among issues I (Minister for South Asia) discussed with the Government of India, leaders of faith groups and others during my recent visit to India (27-31 May).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of India on the importance of pluralism and human rights, including freedom of religion; and what assessment they have made of freedom of religion or belief in India.

The British High Commission in New Delhi regularly assesses human rights across India and engages with civil society and religious representatives. We remain committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all and promoting respect and tolerance between communities. The UK Government has a broad and deep partnership with the Government of India, and we discuss all elements of our relationship, including concerns where we have them. These topics were among issues I (Minister for South Asia) discussed with the Government of India, leaders of faith groups and others during my recent visit to India (27-31 May).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding the former’s proposals of 16 February for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On 22 and 23 February, the Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty MP, met Azerbaijani counterparts in Baku including their Foreign Minister to discuss progress on peace discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This followed previous discussions in London with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister on 6 February, the Armenian Ambassador on 7 February, the Azerbaijani Ambassador on 30 January and the Armenian Foreign Minister on 18 January. The Minister will travel to Yerevan in the next month to continue these discussions. The UK Government remains committed to supporting Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a sustainable and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Georgia, if any, for the release from prison on health grounds of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of that country.

We are following former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili's treatment during his imprisonment closely. Our Ambassador to Georgia has met members of Mr Saakashvili's family to discuss his detention on two occasions. The FCDO raised his treatment with the Georgian Ambassador to London on 2 November, and Embassy officials also met representatives of the United National Movement political party to discuss his health, most recently on 2 and 14 December. Mr Saakashvili's case was also discussed in a meeting between our Ambassador to Georgia and Prime Minister Garibashvili on 15 December. We have repeatedly emphasised that Mr Saakashvili should receive treatment in line with international human rights standards, and urged that any further court hearings are in line with due process and the rule of law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the 18 month blockade of Tigray on the (1) nutritional status, (2) mortality rates, and (3) access to essential services, of the population of that region.

Since November 2020 humanitarian access to Tigray has been severely limited causing devastating impact on food security, access to care, and essential services. Limited access has also made data gathering and verification challenging. The UN estimates 13 million people require food assistance in Ethiopia due to the conflict in the north. As of mid-2022, humanitarian surveys in Tigray estimated malnutrition remained alarmingly high, with 55-80 percent of pregnant women and new mothers and up to 30 percent of children affected by malnutrition. Risks of mortality continue, exacerbated by lean seasons, erosion of coping capacities and blockage of basic services.

17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Report by the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, published on 19 September; and in particular, the findings that (1) there are reasonable grounds to believe that violations, such as extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare have been committed in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020, and (2) in several instances these violations amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UK welcomed the report of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) and co-sponsored the resolution renewing the Commission's mandate at the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council on 22 September. We are appalled by the reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia committed by all sides to the conflict, which in some cases are likely to amount to war crimes. It is important that survivors receive comprehensive support and perpetrators are held to account. We are urging all parties to cooperate with the Commission's investigations. Our Embassies in Addis Ababa and Asmara have raised these reports with the Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments, and the former Minister for Development did so with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke on 19 October while visiting Ethiopia.

17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the two-year conflict in Ethiopia on the (1) nutritional status, (2) mortality rates, and (3) educational standards, of children in Tigray.

The UN estimates 13 million people in northern Ethiopia, at least half children, require food assistance. As of mid-2022, humanitarian surveys in Tigray indicated up to 30 percent of children malnourished and nearly 6 percent were severely malnourished. Risks of mortality continue, exacerbated by lean seasons, erosion of coping capacities and blockage of basic services. As of September 2022, it was estimated that 1.8 million children in Tigray were out of school, out of a total 2.4 million children in the region. Due to the pandemic, conflict, and drought, many may have been fully or partially out of school for three years.

17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to end the reported bombardment by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces of civilian targets in the Rama, Adigrat, and Shire areas of Tigray.

There have been multiple reports of civilian casualties due to airstrikes and artillery fire, and the death of yet another humanitarian worker. We have urged all parties to the conflict to prioritise the lives of ordinary people by agreeing to an immediate cessation of hostilities and guaranteeing humanitarian access to all parts of northern Ethiopia. We have also urged the Eritrean Government to withdraw its forces from Tigray. Our Embassies in Addis Ababa and Asmara have pressed these points with the Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments, and the former Minister for Development did so with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke on 19 October while visiting Ethiopia.

10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of conscientious objectors by the authorities in Azerbaijan; and what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about the introduction of a civilian alternative to military service on the grounds of conscience.

The UK Government has made no assessment on the treatment of conscientious objectors by the authorities in Azerbaijan and has not engaged with the Azerbaijani Government on this issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Sep 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what conversations they have held, if any, with the government of Russia in relation to the prospects for peace and security in the South Caucasus.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has suspended all engagement with the Russian authorities except on a very limited number of issues including the Ukraine crisis. As such, the UK Government currently has no plans to engage directly with the Government of Russia on the situation in the South Caucasus.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Sep 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the assertion made, and (2) the evidence in support presented, by the government of Azerbaijan that the Armenian military fired into Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory during September 2020.

The UK Government is aware of these assertions. In calls with Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 15 and 17 September respectively, the Minister of State for Europe, Minister Docherty, reinforced the need for a cessation of hostilities and a return to substantive negotiations to settle all outstanding matters between the parties.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Sep 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the assertion made, and (2) the evidence in support presented, by the government of Azerbaijan that the Armenian military has (a) laid landmines in Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, and (b) made incursions into Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, since the end of 2020.

The UK Government is aware of these assertions. In calls with Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 15 and 17 September respectively, the Minister of State for Europe, Minister Docherty, reinforced the need for a cessation of hostilities and a return to substantive negotiations to settle all outstanding matters between the parties.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Sep 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that arms sales from Turkey to Azerbaijan are having on stability in the South Caucasus.

The UK Government has not made a formal assessment of the impact that arms sales from Turkey to Azerbaijan have had on the stability of the South Caucasus. We continue to engage with the Government of Turkey on supporting international negotiation efforts to secure stability and security in the South Caucasus.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Sep 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the clashes along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan which began on 12 September; and what representations they have made to the governments of those countries in relation to (1) the exercise of restraint, and (2) the observation of agreements which ended the 2020 Nagorno–Karabakh war.

The UK Government condemns the recent violence along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In calls with the Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan and the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 15 and 17 September respectively, the Minister of State for Europe, Minister Docherty, reinforced the need for a cessation of hostilities and a return to substantive negotiations to settle all outstanding matters between the parties. The UK will continue to work with both parties in the coming months to support efforts to secure regional stability and security.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the humanitarian resettlement of Guantanamo Bay detainees, including by signalling support for countries willing to receive those detainees cleared for transfer.

The UK Government's long-standing position remains that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should close. We will continue to engage with the US Government on this issue, as we do on a range of national security issues, and in the context of our joint determination to tackle international terrorism and combat violent extremism.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representation they have made to the government of the United States of America to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

The UK Government's long-standing position remains that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should close. We will continue to engage with the US Government on this issue, as we do on a range of national security issues, and in the context of our joint determination to tackle international terrorism and combat violent extremism.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the OSCE Minsk Group regarding the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the (1) Syunik, and (2) Gegharkunik, provinces.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Through the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to settle all outstanding matters including the peaceful negotiation of their borders. Although not a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, the UK continues to support its work to facilitate discussions on issues such as border tensions.

8th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan regarding the returning of all Armenian prisoners of war.

The UK Government continues to raise the importance of the return of all prisoners of war and other detainees. In her most recent conversations with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, on 14 June and 6 September respectively, the Minister for Europe and Americas raised the importance of the return of all prisoners of war and detainees. The Minister also discussed this and related issues in her 4 November meeting with the Armenian Ambassador.

1st Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prepare for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in January 2022; what steps they are taking to ensure a successful outcome; and what discussions they are having with other nuclear weapon states on the prevention of nuclear conflict.

The UK will work for a successful NPT Review Conference that continues to lay the groundwork and helps build the trust and confidence necessary for multilateral disarmament, as well as strengthening the non-proliferation and peaceful uses pillars of the Treaty. We will continue to play a leading role in developing nuclear disarmament verification, on which our ability to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons will depend. We will also continue to build trust and confidence amongst nuclear weapon states, and between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. The Government has regular dialogue with Nuclear Weapon States on nuclear issues through the P5 Process. This dialogue has included our respective nuclear doctrines, strategic risk reduction and increasing transparency.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to engage as an observer in the first Meeting of the State Parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in March 2022.

The United Kingdom will not send Observers to the First Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Government has been clear it will not sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). We do not believe this Treaty will bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons. The best way to achieve this is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach, under the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament and its stepping stones approach; and what plans they have, if any, to join this initiative.

The UK supports Sweden's Stepping Stones initiative on disarmament, which consists of Non-Nuclear Weapon States, and we value their leadership in this area. Although we do not agree with all of their recommendations, we have constructive engagement with Sweden and a broad range of international partners on disarmament issues.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking ahead of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1) to clarify their nuclear defence posture, and (2) to offer unconditional assurances to states without nuclear weapons that there are no circumstances under which they would be subject to a threat of nuclear attack by the UK.

The UK remains strongly committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and will work towards the Tenth Review Conference contributing to the implementation of the Treaty in all its aspects. The UK's nuclear posture and Negative Security Assurances were outlined in the UK's Integrated Review, published in March 2021, and the UK's National Report on the UK's progress on the three pillars of the NPT, published on 1 November. The UK considers that we can best protect ourselves and our Allies by the continued operation of a minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent based on a continuous at sea deterrence posture. The UK's Negative Security Assurances remain unchanged. The UK will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapons states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This assurance does not apply to any state in material breach of those non-proliferation obligations. We will continue to keep our nuclear posture and policy under constant review in light of the international security environment and the actions of potential adversaries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The UK Government is aware of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan following the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We continue to urge engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs to settle all outstanding matters following last year's conflict to ensure a secure and stable future and a move towards productive dialogue.

15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan on the second Nagorno Karabakh War on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The UK Government is aware of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan following the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We continue to urge engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs to settle all outstanding matters following last year's conflict to ensure a secure and stable future and a move towards productive dialogue.

12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Ethiopian army is preventing Tigrayan refugees from crossing the border into Sudan.

We are aware of reports of refugees being unable to cross the border into Sudan. We have raised the need to prioritise the protection of civilians with all parties to the conflict, and made clear our expectation that the Governments adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.

We continue to provide support to tackle the humanitarian situation in Tigray and to the over 60,000 refugees that have fled the conflict into Sudanese refugee camps.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Ethiopia is removing evidence of human rights atrocities in Tigray; and what steps they are taking to enable international monitors access to investigate these reported atrocities.

Since the conflict started the UK has consistently called for independent, international investigations into atrocities reported in Tigray, and for the Government of Ethiopia to ensure full access for human rights organisations. We have made this clear to the Government of Ethiopia. We note the statements by Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister at the UN Human Rights Council session, and from the Office of the Prime Minister on 26 February committing Ethiopia to independent investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of (1) Ethiopia, and (2) Eritrea, about the need (a) to take immediate steps to prevent any further damage to the cultural sites of Tigray, (b) to safeguard and respect all cultural property in Tigray, and (c) to ensure that looted objects are restored to their communities.

We are deeply concerned by reports of violations of international law and international human rights law from Tigray, and have raised our concerns with Ministers in the governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We are concerned by reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. Our Embassy in Addis Ababa has been in contact with the UNESCO offices in Addis, and is monitoring matters carefully. We are concerned by the growing weight of credible evidence of atrocities in Tigray, including looting. The Minister for Africa has called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. We welcome the announcement, on 26 March, of their withdrawal and call for this to be immediate and unconditional. We have clearly set out the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations. We have also stressed the need for Ethiopia to safeguard its incredible diversity of faith and identity. Respect for cultural heritage is part of this, alongside freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the International Council on Monuments and Sites on 5 March that Tigray's heritage is falling victim to fighting and "cultural cleansing".

We are deeply concerned by reports of violations of international law and international human rights law from Tigray, and have raised our concerns with Ministers in the governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We are concerned by reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. Our Embassy in Addis Ababa has been in contact with the UNESCO offices in Addis, and is monitoring matters carefully. We are concerned by the growing weight of credible evidence of atrocities in Tigray, including looting. The Minister for Africa has called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. We welcome the announcement, on 26 March, of their withdrawal and call for this to be immediate and unconditional. We have clearly set out the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations. We have also stressed the need for Ethiopia to safeguard its incredible diversity of faith and identity. Respect for cultural heritage is part of this, alongside freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports that authorisation from the government of Russia is now required for foreign nationals to enter the Nagorno-Karabakh region, what assessment they have made of the impact this will have on the delivery of humanitarian aid to that region.

The UK Government is aware of reports that Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh are providing authorisation for those who wish to enter the region. Whilst we have not made an assessment on whether this will impact the delivery of humanitarian aid, during her recent visits to Baku and Yerevan the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged closer cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia with a view to ensuring that all humanitarian agencies were able to access the region to deliver aid.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the implementation of restrictions for Armenians to visit the Dadivank Monastery, what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan to ensure that Armenians are able to access sites of historical religious importance in areas returned to Azerbaijan.

The UK Government has made no representations to the Government of Azerbaijan on this issue. However, we continue to urge both Governments to work with UNESCO to ensure the protection of all sites of historical and religious importance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that aid workers are permitted (1) to deliver humanitarian aid, and (2) to assess the needs of the population, in Ethiopia.

The UK remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Tigray and has been consistent in calling for free and unfettered humanitarian access. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for humanitarian access to Tigray with Prime Minister Abiy during his recent visit to Ethiopia and pressed for a political dialogue to bring lasting peace to the region. The Minister for Africa re-enforced the urgency of the need for humanitarian access when he spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February. The UN estimates that up to 1.3 million people affected by the conflict need humanitarian assistance, though the lack of free and sustained access makes it extremely challenging to determine the actual impact of the conflict on civilians - an estimated 80% of Tigray region remains beyond the reach of relief agencies.

The UK is working closely with humanitarian and development agencies to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are working hard to deliver support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. The Foreign Secretary visited Gondar, the site of a humanitarian hub in the neighbouring Amhara region on 22 January. He heard how £11.4m of UK Aid is supporting the World Food Programme and NGOs to ensure the delivery of aid to those affected by the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that Official Development Assistance-funded programmes are distributed by the government of Ethiopia without reference to the ethnicity of those accessing services.

The UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) portfolio is consistent with legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, which includes the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). PSED ensures that the FCDO understands how different people will be affected by their activities and services are non-discriminatory and accessible to all. UK ODA provided to the Government of Ethiopia in the form of financial aid supports the delivery of specific development results. We work closely with the Government of Ethiopia to ensure and monitor that aid is provided impartially and serves to improve the conditions of intended beneficiaries, with no reference to the ethnicity of those accessing services. We are keeping the provision of aid to Ethiopia under constant review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports that over 60,000 refugees have left Ethopia and entered Sudan following conflict in Darfur, what steps they are taking to ensure that (1) this does not destabilise Sudan, and (2) access to humanitarian aid is not affected.

The conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, as well as impacting those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia and Sudan. During his visit the Foreign Secretary commended Sudan's leaders for their efforts to press for a peaceful resolution to the situation and for their support for refugees entering Sudan from Ethiopia. The UK has provided an additional £5 million in funding to the UN Human Rights Council and the Danish Refugee Council to address urgent needs arising from the Tigray crisis in Sudan. We continue to engage the Government of Sudan and the region on the need to find a peaceful resolution.

As a leading donor to Sudan, the UK is providing £125 million in economic and humanitarian assistance this financial year that is helping with stability and efforts to improve the lives of ordinary Sudanese. On 21 January the Foreign Secretary visited Sudan and reaffirmed the UK's commitment to support Sudan's democratic transition, including via £40 million funding to the Sudan Family Support Programme that will help with much needed economic reforms. The Foreign Secretary also visited a World Food Programme nutrition centre in Sudan, where he saw first-hand the vital role that UK aid is playing in helping those most in need of humanitarian assistance with the provision of life-saving food assistance to vulnerable communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of ethnic cleansing in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan about the use of derogatory language that could increase the risk of ocnflict in that region.

The UK Government is aware of reports of human rights abuses taking place during last year's Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Whilst we have seen no evidence that ethnic cleansing is taking place, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has raised our concerns over allegations of war crimes with the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan and urged that they be thoroughly investigated. We continue to call on all parties to act responsibly and refrain from taking any actions that risk a return to conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of reports of Azeri forces committing human rights abuses against Armenian prisoners of war; what steps they are taking to assist the return of all prisoners of war currently held following the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what plans they have to collate any information they have received relating to such abuses in order to refer such reports to the International Criminal Court.

The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The UK Government is aware of reports that both sides may have mistreated civilians and military prisoners of war during the conflict and afterwards. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September and has urged credible investigation of these reports. During a call in December she welcomed the news that Azerbaijani investigations were underway. The UK Government has no plans to refer these reports to the International Criminal Court as we believe these matters are for the relevant Governments to investigate.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the tripartite meeting between the governments of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on 11 January, what discussions they have had with the government of (1) France, and (2) the United States, about encouraging further involvement of the OSCE Minsk group in discussions about reaching a final settlement on the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK engages regularly with the Governments of France and the United States on the question of Nagorno Karabakh, including since the 11 January tripartite meeting. We continue to emphasise, to all partners, the UK's support for the Co-Chairs of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in reaching a lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, in line with the Madrid Principles.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about returning prisoners of war currently held following the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The UK Government is aware of reports that both sides may have mistreated civilians and military prisoners of war during the conflict and afterwards. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September and has urged credible investigation of these reports. During a call in December she welcomed the news that Azerbaijani investigations were underway. The UK Government has no plans to refer these reports to the International Criminal Court as we believe these matters are for the relevant Governments to investigate.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Armenian Churches in areas returned to Azerbaijan have been labelled as 'Caucasian Albanian'; what discussions they have with the government of Azerbaijan about such reports; and what discussions they have had with the government of Russia about ensuring that Armenian culture is protected in line with the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement, made on 9 November 2020.

The UK Government has made no assessment of the mentioned reports. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, most recently in December, the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration on 17 November. The protection of cultural heritage affected by conflict and the prevention of acts of destruction remains a priority for this Government. While we have not discussed this specific issue with the government of Russia, we continue to underline our support for the Co-Chairs of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in reaching a lasting settlement to the conflict and for the important work of international organisations addressing the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the humanitarian needs of people in Armenia who have been displaced by the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

On 30 October the Foreign Secretary announced £1 million in funding to the ICRC to support their humanitarian efforts in the region. We are working with international partners and NGOs to understand needs in the region and what further support we can provide. The UK Government is supporting the wider international response by funding additional monitoring and analysis of the humanitarian situation through organisations such as the Humanitarian 2 Humanitarian network and supporting additional posts within the UN offices in-country. We continue to urge both sides to ensure the safety and security of all displaced persons including through recent calls between the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas and the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers. The UK Government is keeping the situation under close review, coordinating with local and international partners and will continue to explore opportunities to support partners to deliver an effective international response.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide for the protection for minority communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

We are monitoring the situation closely and are engaging with both the Armenia and Azerbaijani Governments to highlight the importance of protecting all civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including minority groups.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the vulnerability of religious and cultural sites in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what representations, if any, they have they made to UNESCO for the protection of these sites.

The UK Government is concerned by reports that both sides in the recent conflict have desecrated and destroyed cultural heritage sites. We have not made an assessment of the vulnerability of religious and cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh but have urged both parties to respect the cultural heritage of the region. We support UNESCO's efforts to assess the impact of fighting on sites of cultural significance. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September. The Minister welcomed the news of the peace deal. She noted that a peaceful settlement was essential to securing the stability of the region; this included the protection of all cultural heritage sites. The British Ambassador to Azerbaijan also raised this issue with representatives of the Presidential Administration on 17 November.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the Azerbaijan-Armenia ceasefire brokered by the government of Russia on 9 November, and (2) the prospects for a more long-term peace settlement in the region.

The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September, where she has urged engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group to ensure a sustainable, long-term, peaceful settlement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist with (1) demining, and (2) reconstruction, efforts in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

On 30 October the Foreign Secretary announced £1 million in funding to the ICRC to support their humanitarian efforts in the region. We are working with international partners and NGOs to understand needs in the region and what further support we can provide. The UK Government is supporting the wider international response by providing funding to additional monitoring and analysis of the humanitarian situation through organisations such as the Humanitarian 2 Humanitarian network and supporting additional posts within the UN offices in-country. We continue to urge both sides to ensure the safety and security of all displaced persons, including through recent calls between the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas and the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers. The UK Government is keeping the situation under close review, coordinating with local and international partners and will continue to explore opportunities to support partners to deliver an effective international response.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to work with the governments of (1) Indonesia, (2) Malaysia, and (3) Thailand, and appropriate UN agencies, to provide (a) financial assistance, and (b) humanitarian support, for Rohingya communities in those countries.

The UK co-hosted a virtual donor conference on "Sustaining Support for the Rohingya Refugee Response" on 22 October, in conjunction with the US, EU and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The conference brought together governments from across the world, including Association of South East Asian Nations member states, to support the humanitarian response for Rohingya displaced across the region. In total, countries announced $600 million in new and existing funding. The UK pledged £47.5 million of new funding at the conference, which included £10 million of support for Bangladesh to help the country respond to coronavirus and natural disasters.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide (1) funding for, and (2) technical assistance, to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Trust Fund for Humanitarian Relief Efforts to promote regional cooperation for states addressing irregular migration from Myanmar.

The Government does not provide direct support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Trust Fund for Humanitarian Relief Efforts. We do however provide broader technical assistance to the ASEAN humanitarian co-ordination centre to increase humanitarian capacity and co-ordination across ASEAN member states.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of (1) Indonesia, (2) Malaysia, and (3) Thailand, (a) to permit entry to additional refugees from, and (b) to refrain from repatriating refugees to, Myanmar.

The UK is committed to protecting the Rohingya community and encourage a regional response to the refugee crisis. We have made official representations to the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states on the Rohingya, including at Ministerial level. We are clear that Rohingya refugees should be granted the appropriate protection status and humanitarian assistance within these countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide atrocity prevention training to UK embassy and diplomatic personnel based in fragile states.

Atrocity prevention training is available to all staff at all grades in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through the International Academy. It is available to staff based in the UK and in our missions overseas. Staff in fragile states are encouraged to complete the relevant training. Her Majesty's Government will also pay for additional external atrocity prevention training where appropriate. We will continue to look for opportunities to enhance the existing training we provide our staff to identify the risks of atrocities and conflict, and the continued development and use of early warning mechanisms.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of existing international capabilities to meet any global increase in identity-based violence; and what plans they have to appoint a Minister to act as a Special Envoy on Genocide.

There are currently no plans to appoint a Minister to act as a Special Envoy on Genocide. As Minister with responsibility for Human Rights policy and matters relating to the UN as well as the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, I also have oversight of our atrocity prevention policy. The creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) presents us with an opportunity to identify where we can strengthen our international efforts on reducing conflict and instability, including atrocity prevention, in order to maximise our impact abroad. The UK Government has consulted widely as part of the Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review which will propose fresh ideas to shape the objectives and systems of the FCDO, reflecting a drive towards a more effective and more joined-up foreign policy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the arrest and ongoing detention without trial of Professor Richard Solomon Musa Tarfa.

The British High Commission in Abuja has raised Professor Tarfa's case with the Kano State Government and the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria. The former UK Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP, also raised the case with President Buhari's former Chief of Staff. We have repeatedly underlined the importance of an open and transparent legal process for Mr Tarfa, in accordance with Nigerian law and international human rights standards.

30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the arrest and ongoing detention without trial of Mubarak Bala.

The UK Government remains concerned by the continued detention of Mubarak Bala and we are monitoring his case closely. Our High Commissioner raised the case earlier this year with the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force and has recently raised it with the Kano State Governor and Attorney General. The Minister for Africa also discussed the case with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs in May. We continue to stress to the Nigerian Government 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 Government priority and we will continue to use our voice internationally to protect this human right.

30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the rule of law in Kano State, Nigeria, and what financial and technical assistance they are providing to strengthen the rule of law and the protection of freedom of religion or belief in the region.

The UK Government is monitoring a number of legal cases in Kano State, about which we have raised concerns over human rights, including the constitutional right to freedom of religion or belief. This includes the cases of Mubarak Bala and Yahaya Sharif-Aminu. We continue to engage the federal and state authorities to stress the importance of transparent investigations that respect human rights and the rule of law.

For over a decade, we have worked to strengthen the rule of law and adherence to human rights requirements with the Nigerian Police Force, including in Kano State. A recent programme, which concluded in March, focussed on strengthening the capability, accountability and responsiveness of the police. This included the importance of fair, transparent, and respectful treatment of civilians. We are also supporting the Centre for Law Enforcement and Education to monitor the conduct of security forces during the coronavirus pandemic. The data collated by the Centre for Law Enforcement and Education is referred to the Police Service Commission and National Human Rights Commission.

The UK remains committed to promoting and protecting the rule of law and human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief, around the world. We are a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right.

29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations, if any, they have made to President Mahdi al Mashat that the pardon for Hamed bin Haydara and five other Yemeni Baha'i, and their release from jail, be expedited.

We are monitoring the case of Hamed bin Haydara closely. On 25 March the Houthis announced that they would release Mr Haydara and his fellow wrongfully detained Baha'i, but we have seen no further action since then. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa made public our concerns on 22 April, urging the Houthis to release all political prisoners without delay. We strongly condemn the death sentence and the continued persecution of the Baha'i in Yemen for their religious beliefs. We meet often with the Baha'i representatives in London who keep us updated on the situation.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of China regarding the mass arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on 18 April.

We are concerned by the arrests of a number of political figures in Hong Kong, and are following these cases closely. We expect any arrests and judicial processes to be conducted in a fair and transparent manner. The right to peaceful protest is fundamental to Hong Kong's way of life and as such is protected in both the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. It is essential that any protests are conducted peacefully, and that the authorities avoid actions that inflame tensions. The authorities should focus on rebuilding trust through a process of meaningful political dialogue. Officials have raised our concerns with the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities. We are continuing to follow these cases closely and will not hesitate to raise further concerns if necessary.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Saudi Arabia’s decision to deport 30,000 Ethiopian migrant workers, including some who are suspected of suffering from COVID-19.

We are aware of these reports of deportations and are concerned at reports of COVID-19 amongst returned migrant workers in quarantine centres in Ethiopia. We are monitoring the situation closely.

It is important that we work collectively to respond to the unprecedented threat of COVID-19 to limit the spread of the virus and to mitigate its negative impacts. Under the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, we have committed to cooperation in facilitating the safe and dignified return and readmission of migrants. We encourage all countries to consider measures to respond to this commitment in the context of COVID-19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Oct 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to seek a peaceful resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan, following the decision of the government of India on 5 August to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

The Government’s longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or act as mediator. We encourage India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and find lasting, diplomatic solutions to maintain regional stability. We are monitoring the situation in Kashmir closely and are in regular contact with the Governments of both India and Pakistan. The Prime Minister has spoken to both Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, underlining the importance of maintaining dialogue. ​

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Oct 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the decision of the government of India, on 5 August, to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution of India, and what representations they have made to the government of India about that decision.

Events in Kashmir can have regional and international implications and we continue to urge calm and caution from all. We are following the situation in Kashmir closely and are in regular contact with the Government of India. The Prime Minister has spoken to Prime Minister Modi about the situation, underlining the importance of maintaining dialogue. The Foreign Secretary has raised his concerns about the situation with the Indian Minister for External Affairs Dr Jaishankar. I have also had regular engagement with the Indian High Commissioner to the UK and raised the situation in Kashmir with Minister for Minority Affairs Naqvi in New Delhi earlier this month.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jul 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the upcoming deadline for forming South Sudan’s Transitional Government, what steps they are taking to encourage the parties and regional powers in that region to (1) unify security forces, and 2) clarify, with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Dr Riek Machar’s freedom to travel back to South Sudan.

The British Government remains closely engaged at senior levels with all sides in South Sudan, the region and the wider international community to encourage full implementation of the peace agreement signed on 12 September 2018, including through the work of the UK Special Representative to Sudan and South Sudan. As part of these efforts, the UK recently convened a meeting with regional and international partners to discuss peace agreement implementation, and risks and challenges ahead for the formation of a transitional government in November. We discussed how to secure progress on issues including the reunification of armed forces and ensuring the conditions are in place for opposition leaders to participate in government.

On the reunification of armed forces, we work closely with security implementation bodies in Juba, and fund a security advisor to the ‘Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission’ to support oversight of such work. The return to South Sudan of opposition figures, including Dr Machar, is one part of the formation of a transitional government, and we urge this to happen by the November deadline. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, as guarantors of the peace agreement, declared that Dr Machar is free from travel restrictions in a statement on 7 May. We have urged the region to ensure this message is reinforced, the status of his ability to travel clearly communicated, and no impediments are in place to prevent Dr Machar and others participating in any transitional government in Juba.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the recent statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 24 June, what plans they have to repatriate the children of British citizens now held in Iraq and Syria as a result of their parents' involvement with Daesh.

The situation that young children are facing in north-east Syria through no fault of their own is tragic. The UK has no consular presence within Syria from which to provide assistance to British Nationals there. This makes it difficult to help but we look at every single case where we are asked for consular assistance. We are not aware of any British children in camps in Iraq.

Our advice to any British national abroad who needs emergency help from the British Government is to contact the nearest British Embassy or Consulate, which in this case will be outside Syria. If a minor is unable to do so, those with parental responsibility can make the request on their behalf. British nationals can also call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The number is clearly advertised on FCO Travel Advice pages.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Final Judgment of the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting, published on 17 June; and what actions they plan to take in response to that Judgment.

We have noted the recent report by the pressure group “The International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China”. Officials attended public hearings organised by the group, and its report is one of a number of sources of information that we are taking into account when considering this issue.

If true, the practice of systematic, state-sponsored organ harvesting would be truly horrifying. As such, we continue to monitor the allegations and consider carefully all evidence presented on this issue. We have also recently consulted the World Health Organization in both Geneva and Beijing. Their view is that China is implementing an ethical, voluntary organ transplant system in accordance with international standards, though they do have concerns about overall transparency.

There is credible evidence that practitioners of Falun Gong are subjected to serious mistreatment. We regularly raise concerns with China, including on the extensive use of the death penalty and the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. We continue to keep this issue under review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of China on the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China; and what plans they have to ensure that the human rights of Uighur Muslims are protected.

We have serious concerns about the situation in Xinjiang, where there are credible reports of over a million Uyghurs and other minorities being detained in so-called “re-education camps".

Ministers and senior officials frequently raise the human rights issues in the region with their Chinese counterparts. The Foreign Secretary highlighted our concerns with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his most recent visit to China in July 2018. Later that month, the Minister for Asia & the Pacific did the same with his Chinese counterpart Vice Minister Guo Yezhou. Additionally, our Embassy in Beijing regularly raises the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang with the Chinese authorities.

Further, we spoke publicly about the situation in the region at the 40th UN Human Rights Council in February and March 2019. I raised our concerns during my opening address on 25 February, and the UK spoke about Xinjiang during our “Item 4” national statement on 12 March. Following this, we co-sponsored a side event on “Protecting the fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang” on 13 March which helped to raise awareness of the situation among the international community.

Moreover, in our statement at China’s Universal Periodic Review on 6 November 2018, we made clear our concern about the treatment of Uyghurs in China. The UK issued a specific recommendation to China that it implements the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s recommendations on Xinjiang and allows the UN to monitor the implementation.

We will continue to raise the human rights situation in Xinjiang with the Chinese Government at all levels bilaterally and in appropriate UN fora, including the Human Rights Council.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Pakistan to continue to uphold  the right to freedom of religion or belief in that country.

​The UK has a long history of supporting Freedom of Religion or Belief for all people. We stand up for everyone's right to practise or not practise a religion that is in line with their conscience, wherever they are in the world.

We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. I raised the treatment of religious minority communities with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February, and in subsequent telephone calls.

Under the Government's Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the UK has supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom. In November 2018, the Government announced a new £12 million fund to bolster the work of civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations to promote respect, and the value of religious diversity and tolerance.

On 30 January 2019, the Foreign Secretary and the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, launched an Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians overseas. The Bishop submitted his interim report on 3 May; he will submit his final report in the summer.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what humanitarian assistance they have sent, or intend to send, to the communities affected by the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.

​Sri Lanka has not requested humanitarian assistance. Following the Easter Sunday attacks, the Sri Lankan Government announced it would provide compensation for victims and fund the repair of the affected churches. The Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, visited Sri Lanka on 2-3 May to demonstrate solidarity and discuss what UK support would be most helpful. Existing UK support in Sri Lanka includes £8.3 million of Conflict Stability and Security Fund funding over three years (2016-2019) to support police reform and training, reconciliation and peacebuilding, resettlement, interfaith dialogue and demining in the north of the country. We are also engaging with the Sri Lankan Government, faith and community leaders to encourage the Government to take all appropriate measures to reassure all of Sri Lanka's citizens that it will protect and uphold their safety and rights, and that its response to the attacks is proportionate and builds trust across all communities in Sri Lanka.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that some 45,000 children in Iraqi displacement camps are without civil ID documentation; and what representations they intend to make to the government of Iraq to ensure that those children are not excluded from Iraqi citizenship and society in the future.

​We are aware of the media reports regarding children without documentation in Iraqi displacement camps, although we cannot verify the numbers cited. We recognise the vulnerability of these children and the risks of them being excluded from Iraqi citizenship and society in the future. We continue to raise these concerns with the Iraqi authorities including the importance of formal recognition of all children. We were pleased to hear of the Government of Iraq's initiative to address the status of children born of rape to Yezidi women and hope this will soon be reflected across the country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Apr 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to facilitate an end to the war in Yemen.

The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts, including bringing together key international actors to try to find a peaceful solution. We continue to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and the UN-led peace process. All parties have reaffirmed their support for the peace process and the Government of Yemen have agreed to the UN redeployment plan but, at this stage, the Houthis have not agreed to the UN plan. It is important that neither side exploits the redeployment process. We urge all parties to co-operate with the Special Envoy and act in good faith to implement the agreements made in Stockholm, including the redeployment of military personnel.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are offering Richard Ratcliffe, following the government of Iran's decision to cancel his scheduled telephone calls with his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

​The families of all of our dual national cases have regular contact with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, and the Foreign Secretary is personally engaged. Mr Ratcliffe has confirmed that telephone calls with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe continue, and have not been stopped. The treatment of all British-Iranians detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is a priority for the Government. We urgently raise these cases with the Iranian government at every opportunity. We will continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case, as well as our other consular cases, with the Iranian government at every opportunity, including requesting consular access, and will continue to take action in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in particular that she be granted access to medical treatment for long standing mental and physical health complaints.

​The treatment of all British-Iranians detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is a priority for the Government. We urgently raise these cases with the Iranian government at every opportunity. On 14 January, the Foreign Secretary summoned the Iranian Ambassador to the UK and called for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be immediately given the healthcare she requires and for her and other British-Iranian dual nationals to be released. We will continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case, as well as our other consular cases, with the Iranian government at every opportunity, including requesting consular access, and will continue to take action in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan (1) to uphold the decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court to acquit Asia Bibi, and (2) that she be removed from any Exit Control List.

​As the Prime Minister stated in Parliament on 14 November, the British Government's primary concern is for the safety and security of Asia Bibi and her family. We want to see a swift resolution of the situation. Prime Minister Imran Khan has made clear publicly his support for the Supreme Court of Pakistan and promised to uphold the rule of law, while providing continued protection for Asia Bibi. Pakistan's Foreign Minister has publicly confirmed that Asia Bibi will remain under the protection of the Pakistan government until the legal review process has concluded.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) support religious pluralism, and (2) promote freedom of religion or belief, in Pakistan.

We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan. The British Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs. Pakistan is one of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) human rights priority countries, as set out in the FCO 2017 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report available at the gov.uk website.

We regularly raise the issues of freedom of religion and belief and the protection of minority religious communities, with the Pakistan government at a senior level. When the Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan in August, she highlighted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of minorities. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in September 2018.

Under the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the British Government has supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom.

The UK raised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan's UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.

We continue to urge Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations, including engaging with the UN and other international bodies, and to ensure that the rights of minorities are respected.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the state of freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan.

We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan. The British Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs. Pakistan is one of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) human rights priority countries, as set out in the FCO's 2017 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report available at the gov.uk website.

We regularly raise the issues of freedom of religion and belief and the protection of minority religious communities, with the Pakistan government at a senior level. When the Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan in August, she highlighted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of minorities. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in September 2018.

Under the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the British Government has supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom.

The UK raised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan's UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.

We continue to urge Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations, including engaging with the UN and other international bodies, and to ensure that the rights of minorities are respected.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on religious minorities in Pakistan of the ruling by the Islamabad High Court on 9 March that requires citizens to take a religious oath upon joining the civil service, armed forces, or judiciary.

We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan. The Islamabad High Court ruling of 9 March, if applied, would be a further negative development which risks discriminating against a number of groups in Pakistan. It is vital that Pakistan upholds and protects the rights of all its citizens regardless of their faith, gender or ethnicity. We routinely raise the issues of freedom of religion and belief and the protection of minority religious communities, with the Pakistan government at a senior level.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar regarding the proposed amendments to the 2011 Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law which might restrict the right of freedom of expression and assembly in Myanmar.

The UK has been a consistent, vocal advocate of democratic freedoms in Burma, including freedom of expression, through our discussions with the Burmese Government and parliamentarians. We have not made specific representations on proposed amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law but are monitoring the discussion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to work with the government of Sri Lanka to ensure that (1) a thorough investigation is conducted into the recent communal violence between Buddhist nationalists and the Muslim community in Digana and Teldeniya, in Kandy administrative district, Sri Lanka, and (2) the perpetrators are bought to justice.

​I am concerned by the recent inter-communal violence in Sri Lanka and the Minister for Asia and the Pacific, the Rt Hon Mark Field MP, wrote to his counter-part Foreign Minister Marapana on 7 March setting out UK views. We support the Government of Sri Lanka's action in swiftly bringing the violence to an end and urge it to hold the perpetrators to account. It is vital that all leaders in Sri Lanka condemn violence and hate, and make every effort to promote harmony.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to safeguard religious pluralism and to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka.

​We are currently funding a range of projects through a multi-year Conflict Stability and Security Fund programme to promote inter-faith and inter-communal dialogue and dispute resolution at local level in eastern Sri Lanka, one of the most diverse regions. Our High Commission regularly raise issues of concern with their Sri Lankan counterparts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Feb 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the details of the £600,000 worth of projects funded by the Magna Carta Fund in 2016–17 which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated have directly led to positive freedom of religion or belief outcomes in 20 countries; and what are those outcomes.

Several projects were funded by the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy in 2016-17, including:

  • Hardwired Inc is running a project which promotes tolerance in secondary school curricula in 50 schools in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon.
  • Christian Solidarity Worldwide is running a project to support human rights defenders in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This project raises awareness at the national, regional and international level of the unique challenges human rights defenders campaigning for FoRB face in South Asia and Central Asia. It also raises their security awareness and their advocacy capability.
  • The Salzburg Global Seminar brings together experts and educational practitioners from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to explore approaches for combating extremism, preventing genocide and promoting tolerance. There is a particular emphasis on Rwanda, South Africa and Cambodia.
  • In Malaysia, we supported a project implemented by Article 19 which aimed to strengthen the ability of Malaysia's national human rights institution to advance the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religious belief. The project engaged a range of influential religious groups, with the view to widening the space for constructive debate in the public sphere and encouraging greater tolerance in the socio-political discourse.
  • Article 19 run a project in Tunisia and Egypt, to strengthen civil society to build consensus on institutional, legislative and policy change, engage with international human rights mechanisms and prevent intolerance and hate speech.
  • The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan run a project, which contributes to social stability and security in Central Asia through building the capacity of key state and non-state stakeholders to advance FoRB for all.
  • Cumberland Lodge is running a project to promote understanding among overseas students studying in the UK of the right to FoRB. The students will be better sensitised to FoRB issues before returning to their native countries where we hope that they will act as informal advocates for human rights, including FoRB.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Feb 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government when their strategy covering freedom of religion or belief will be published.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) freedom of religion or belief work plan is for internal use only. However, the FCO's "toolkit" for use by UK diplomats in promoting and defending the right to FoRB and setting out our policy has been published and can be seen at the gov.uk website.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jan 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of (1) China, (2) Laos, (3) the Philippines, (4) Russia, and (5) Vietnam, regarding the announcement on 16 January that Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to repatriate Rohingya people; and what was the outcome of those discussions.

Since 16 January we have not discussed the issue of Rohingya returns with the named countries. Bilateral discussions on this issue are important but the UK is clear that there needs to be international, independent monitoring of any returns process. UNHCR is best placed to do this, and on 12 January FCO-DFID Minister Alastair Burt discussed this with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. We have been clear that any returns should be voluntary, safe and dignified. We will be reiterating this message with international partners through our overseas network and Ministerial interactions in the coming weeks.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they hold about the demolition of religious sites and buildings in China, including Tibetan Buddhist institutions and Christian churches in the past two years.

We are concerned by reports of the closure or demolition of churches and monasteries, and that individuals are being harassed or detained for their beliefs across China.

We routinely obtain information and updates from a wide range of sources and use these to help build a credible picture of the extent of the situation.

We consistently urge China to respect all rights across the People's Republic of China, including in Tibet, in line with both its own constitution and the international frameworks to which it is a party.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of China about the disappearance and current situation of Chinese lawyer Gao Zhiseng, who went missing in August.

We are deeply concerned about the case of Gao Zhisheng, particularly after his reported disappearance in August. We are continuing to work with international partners and others to seek further information about his whereabouts and his condition and to highlight our concerns about his case.

We raised Mr Gao's case with the Chinese authorities in a list of 'cases of concern' ahead of the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing in June 2017.

FCO officials met Gao Zhisheng's daughter, Grace Gao, and representatives of a UK NGO on 16 October to discuss his case and obtain more information.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of China concerning restrictions on freedom of religion or belief for Tibetan Buddhists in China, including the detention of religious leaders and the demolition of places of worship.

We pay close attention to the human rights position including restrictions on religion or belief, and the wider political situation in Tibet.

We set out our human rights concerns about China, and specifically the Tibet Autonomous Region, in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office annual report on Human Rights and Democracy, which was issued on 20 July 2017 (available on gov.uk).

We raised these concerns about Tibet, a number of individual cases of concern, and our concerns about demolitions of the Larung Gar monasteries at the latest round of the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue which took place in Beijing on 27 June 2017. We also made an item IV statement at the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2017 where we reiterated our concerns over restrictions on civil and political freedoms, particularly minority rights, and freedom of religion in China.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the revisions to the regulations on religious affairs in China, and of their potential impact on freedom of religion or belief in that country.

We remain concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China and are concerned that new draft guidelines on religion in China may restrict lawful and peaceful observance of religion.

We raised these matters directly with the Chinese authorities at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on 27 June. We also issued an item IV statement at the 35th UN Human Rights Council in June reiterating our concerns.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of funds currently allocated under the Magna Carta Fund aim to protect or strengthen freedom of religion or belief across the Commonwealth.

This financial year 2% (£207,946) of the overall Magna Carta Fund has been allocated to protecting or strengthening freedom of religion or belief across the Commonwealth. All of these projects are regional and therefore include Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their strategy for protecting freedom of religion or belief across the Commonwealth.

Protecting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) remains a high priority for Her Majesty's Government. We work on this issue around the world, including in countries that are members of the Commonwealth.

On International Religious Freedom Day (27 October), I wrote to all UK Ambassadors and High Commissioners encouraging them to make FoRB a priority in their human rights engagements and work in country. I also re-issued our revised "toolkit" which supports our diplomats working to protect and promote FoRB in locally appropriate ways. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also continues to provide training and seminars to increase religious literacy amongst staff.

Ministers and officials also speak out publicly in support of Freedom of Religion or Belief. For example, during my visit to Bangladesh in August 2017, I visited the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Dhaka and made a public call for religious tolerance.

The UK Government also continues to support a number of projects which promote Freedom of Religion or Belief through the FCO's Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy. Examples include a project to support a network of human rights defenders in South Asia.

In multilateral fora, the Government continues to work to sustain consensus on the adoption and implementation of two important resolutions: the European Union's Freedom of Religion or Belief resolution and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)'s resolution on Combating Religious Intolerance.

In October 2017, I convened the first in a series of roundtable meetings on FoRB. These meetings will bring together faith leaders and civil society to discuss current challenges to FoRB internationally, and how we can collaborate to strengthen our response to these.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of Commonwealth countries that retain the death penalty.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) works closely with leading human rights organisations to promote abolition of the death penalty globally. 33 Commonwealth countries retain the death penalty. The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and we make our opposition known at the highest levels in countries where it continues to be applied. On World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October, I issued a statement setting out the UK Government’s position that the use of the death penalty undermines human dignity, that there is no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value, and that any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is irreparable.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of Commonwealth countries that retain some form of blasphemy law.

Her Majesty's Government remains firmly committed to the protection and promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief around the world. Criminalising blasphemy runs contrary to that human right and we oppose it for that reason. We do not currently hold information on the number of Commonwealth countries that criminalise blasphemy, but a report published by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in July 2017 found that blasphemy laws were retained in 71 countries worldwide.

We do not hold this information and accurate data is difficult to obtain. We will speak with our non-governmental organisations to see if they hold this information.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of Commonwealth countries that retain apostasy laws.

Her Majesty's Government remains firmly committed to the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief around the world. Criminalising apostasy runs contrary to this human right and we oppose it for that reason. We do not currently hold information on the number of Commonwealth countries that criminalise apostasy, but data collected by Pew Research Centre in 2014 found that 25 countries worldwide had some form of apostasy law or policy.

We do not hold these details and it is difficult to obtain accurate data. We will speak with our non-governmental organisations to see if they hold information

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Sep 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance and support they are providing the government of Burma and other parties in Burma to de-escalate the crisis in Rakhine State.

The UK is one of the largest development and humanitarian donors to Burma and to Rakhine State. Since 2012, we have provided over £30 million in humanitarian assistance, including on food and sanitation for over 126,000 people.

The UK is also the largest bilateral donor supporting displaced Rohingya refugees and the vulnerable communities which host them in Bangladesh. The Department for International Development has allocated £20.9 million to respond to humanitarian needs between 2017 and 2022.

On August 30 and September 13, the UK raised the situation in Rakhine in the UN Security Council. We also discussed Burma at the September session of the UN Human Rights Council. Our immediate priority is to make sure food and medical assistance can be provided to displaced civilians from all communities. We urge the Government of Burma to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine and implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Sep 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Burma to engage with existing United Nations Human Rights Council mechanisms and address reports of severe human rights violations in Rakhine State.

We remain concerned that human rights violations by the Burmese security forces following the violence in Rakhine State in October 2016 have not been fully investigated or addressed. That is why the UK co-sponsored a resolution at the Human Rights Council in March which set up a Fact Finding Mission to look into the human rights situation in Burma. We have urged the Government of Burma to cooperate fully with the Mission and its mandate and to enable the Mission to visit Burma.

Ministers have raised this issue with the Burmese authorities and our broader concerns about the recent outbreak in violence in Rakhine State. The Foreign Secretary has spoken on several occasions with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and has raised our concerns. Our ambassador in Rangoon has also raised our concerns with the Burmese authorities.

We support the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and welcome its report published on 24 August. Amongst its recommendations, the Commission noted that the Government of Burma must take full responsibility for all residents in Rakhine State and ensure access to services and humanitarian aid. We assess that the Commission's recommendations provide the most realistic solution to address the longstanding and underlying issues in Rakhine. The UK stands ready to support Burma to implement the Commission's report. The UK has raised Burma twice at the UN Security Council since the outbreak of the current violence, and secured the Council's first press statement on Burma in eight years. The UK also raised its deep concern about reports of human rights violations at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Sep 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the introduction of financial and travel sanctions against senior Burmese military officials following the Burmese military's recent offensive in Rakhine State.

​EU trade, financial and targeted sanctions on Burma were lifted in April 2013, but EU Restrictive measures were retained and renewed this year with UK support. These measures are kept under review. Our focus for the moment is on providing humanitarian assistance, urging restraint by the security forces in Rakhine and a de-escalation of tensions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses on the grounds that the group is considered to be an extremist organisation.

The UK is deeply concerned by the dismissal of an appeal against the decision of Russia's Supreme Court to categorise the Jehovah's Witnesses as extremists. This ruling effectively criminalises the peaceful worship of some 175,000 Russian citizens and is at odds with the right to religious freedom which is enshrined in the Russian Constitution.

I issued a statement on 18 July expressing our concerns. We have raised this issue with the Russian Government and continue to call on them to uphold their commitment to this basic freedom in international fora, including in the Council of Europe.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the situation facing Bahá'ís and other religious minorities in Yemen.

The Government is concerned about the situation faced by the Bahá'ís in Yemen. This is particularly the case in areas under the control of the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Saleh, where they have faced persecution due to their religious beliefs. The UK has raised the issue with the Government of Yemen and highlighted their plight through public diplomacy. Mr Burt, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, also met with representatives of the Bahá'í community on 13 July.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of Tajikistan’s commitment to freedom of religion of belief following the decision by the State Committee for Religious Affairs to ban anyone under the age of 40 from participating in the August Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The restrictions on freedom of religion in Tajikistan are a growing concern and indicative of Tajikistan's heavy-handed approach to countering extremism. Our Embassy in Dushanbe raises concerns over human rights issues both bilaterally and in collaboration with the EU and like-minded partners​.

4th Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include freedom of religion or belief on the agenda of the 2018 Commonwealth Summit.

The Government believes that the Commonwealth is a force for good around the world, through its promotion of freedom, democracy, human rights, development and prosperity.

The UK-hosted 2018 Commonwealth Summit will encourage all Commonwealth members to uphold the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, and this includes freedom of religion and belief. We are currently working on finalising the key themes and agenda for the summit which will include a focus on shared values and the human rights agenda.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the peace accord between the government of the Central African Republic and 13 armed groups, signed in Rome on 19 June.

Her Majesty's Government welcomes the peace accord, signed on 19 June. However, we remain concerned by continued violence between armed groups in the Central African Republic, which is causing heavy civilian loss of life and significant population displacement, despite the agreement including an immediate cessation of hostilities. We call on all armed group leaders immediately to implement the cessation provisions in the agreement as well as to honour their commitment, without any restriction, to the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of Indonesia in strengthening Indonesia's resilience to violent extremism.

The British Government has provided resilience assistance to the Indonesian government since the appalling terrorist attacks in Bali in 2002. Since then, the UK has supported Indonesian efforts to improve its capabilities in disrupting terrorist activity in Indonesia, particularly through the work of the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) which provides training to law enforcement officials and enables sharing of UK expertise. We remain concerned by current trends in violent extremism in Indonesia, including terrorist attacks such as in central Jakarta in January 2016. We are supporting work to increase community resilience to extremism as well as continuing efforts with the Indonesian authorities to counter violent extremism. This includes support for legal reform as well as the promotion of human rights.

3rd Jul 2017
Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Indonesia that Indonesia's blasphemy laws will not be applied in a discriminatory manner, including against those who do not practise one of the six religions recognised under Indonesian law.

We raise these issues regularly and appropriately with the Indonesian government. We supported the EU statement, issued following the conviction of the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as 'Ahok') on blasphemy charges. This called on the Indonesian government, its institutions and its people to continue the long standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism in Indonesia and stated that laws criminalising blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Our Ambassador to Indonesia also publicly expressed concern about the blasphemy verdict against 'Ahok' on social media. More generally, and in meetings with political and religious leaders, the Ambassador and Embassy officials have actively cautioned against mixing issues of race, ethnicity and religion with politics.

In addition, we are also supporting the Indonesian parliament in their ongoing revision of the Indonesian Penal Code to encourage respect for human rights, including freedom of religion.

21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to create an ambassador-level champion for freedom of religion or belief.

Her Majesty's Government remains firmly committed to the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). We continue to actively seek ways to improve the efforts of overseas posts working to support religious freedom. Through our bilateral meetings, we raise individual cases and highlight practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief. In 2017/18 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will spend approximately £750,000 on six FoRB projects across a range of countries, including Pakistan and Iraq. Whilst the Government has not created an Ambassador-level champion for FoRB, I have this issue a key priority for my team as the Minsiter responsible. I will seek to review this proposal on a periodic basis.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to expand their global efforts to combat extremism, terror and the perpetration of violence against people because of their faith, gender or sexuality.

​This Government firmly believes that all people should be able to live free from violence regardless of their religion or belief, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We work to protect and promote human rights through the UK's Counter-Extremism Strategy. Community engagement is crucial for tackling hatred and intolerance and forms an important part of our efforts to tackle extremism in the UK and overseas. Our international effort is aimed at safeguarding the UK by mobilising the international system and building capacity to tackle violent extremism and the idealogical basis of associated extremism effectively. Implementation of the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism is central to this effort as is the UN Global CT Strategy. We are working closely with international partners to give further momentum to the UN's efforts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan regarding the death sentence handed down by Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Court on 10 June to Taimoor Raza, a Shi'a Muslim, for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook.

The UK remains firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, at a minimum, commit publicly to renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of expression and the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. Our concerns are reflected in the latest update to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office annual human rights report.

The Foreign Secretary raised religious tolerance and misuse of the blasphemy laws during his visit to Pakistan in November 2016. Mr Sharma, in his previous role as Minister for Asia, discussed the death penalty and the importance we attach to freedom of expression with Kamran Michael, Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the Prime Minister's Special Assistant for Human Rights, during his visit to Pakistan in January 2017.

The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour, promote and protect its human rights obligations, including those related to the death penalty and freedom of expression and religion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Eritrea regarding the ongoing detention of the Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios.

The Government remains concerned about the human rights record of the Government of Eritrea. We have raised these concerns consistently, most recently during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 16 June 2017. One of the issues highlighted was that of arbitrary detentions in Eritrea. On 26 June 2017 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a tweet specifically calling attention to the detention of Patriarch Abune Antonios.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Indonesia.

Indonesia has a strong tradition of religious diversity and tolerance, with freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution of 1945 and more recently in Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights which upholds freedom of religion as a fundamental right. Nevertheless, there continue to be localised instances of religious conflict where the rights of religious minority groups have not been protected.

We have made representations encouraging the Indonesian government to ensure that blasphemy laws are not applied in a discriminatory manner, including against those who do not practice one of the six religions recognised under Indonesian law. We therefore welcome recent statements by Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirming his commitment to pluralism and religious diversity.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2017
Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Indonesia in respect of Indonesia's blasphemy laws following the two-year prison sentence handed down on 9 May to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Christian Governor of Jakarta, for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam.

In response to the verdict, the UK, along with other EU member states, issued a statement through the EU Mission to Indonesia which stated that laws criminalising blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The statement called on the Indonesian government, its institutions and its people to continue the long standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism in Indonesia.

Our Ambassador to Indonesia publicly expressed concern about the blasphemy verdict against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. In his meetings with political and religious leaders, the Ambassador has actively cautioned against mixing issues of race, ethnicity and religion with politics.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 20 February (HL5242), what percentage of the £9.25 million pledged by the UK to the UN's Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation has been provided.

The £9.25 million UK pledge to the UN's Funding for Immediate Stabilisation (FFIS) originally included funding allocated to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Integrated Reconciliation Programme. At the request of the UNDP, who are responsible for the management of the FFIS and Reconciliation projects, this has now been created as a standalone project. The UK has delivered more than our initial pledge to this Reconciliation project. Therefore, the UK's revised commitment to the FFIS is £8.82 million and the UK has so far delivered approximately 76% of this and the remainder will be delivered in the coming months.

2nd Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 20 February (HL5247), what percentage of funds distributed under the Magna Carta Fund in 2016 were allocated to projects promoting interreligious dialogue and co-operation in Iraq and the right to freedom of religion or belief for all of Iraq’s religious communities.

The UK's Magna Carta Programme in financial year 2015-2016 spent £115,000 in Iraq, which represented 1% of the programme's total spend. That money helped deliver an education programme on religious freedom to Iraqi schools, as well as a training course on international law and freedom of religion or belief to religious leaders, human rights advocates, academics and journalists. In financial year 2016-2017, there is no Magna Carta project focused solely on Iraq, but a £153,000 project (1.44% of the total fund) will promote legal and social protection for freedom of religion or belief across the region – including in Iraq.

1st Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions have taken place with the government of Egypt regarding the recent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt, including in Al-Arish, Sinai.

We deplore all discrimination against religious minorities and constraints on their freedom to practise their faith. The Egyptian constitution contains protections for freedom of religious belief and it is important that these rights are respected.

Coptic Christians make up approximately 10% of Egypt's population. There were at least 41 reports of sectarian incidents in Egypt in 2016.

We have regularly raised our concerns about the deterioration in the human rights situation with the Egyptian government, including issues affecting Christians and other minorities. We welcome President Sisi's consistent calls for peaceful coexistence and the Government of Egypt's expression of support for the rights of Christians and for religious tolerance.

1st Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to help the government of Egypt provide for the security and well-being of religious minorities in Egypt.

We deplore all discrimination against religious minorities and constraints on their freedom to practise their faith. The Egyptian constitution contains protections for freedom of religious belief and it is important that these rights are respected.

Coptic Christians make up approximately 10% of Egypt's population. There were at least 41 reports of sectarian incidents in Egypt in 2016.

We have regularly raised our concerns about the deterioration in the human rights situation with the Egyptian government, including issues affecting Christians and other minorities. We welcome President Sisi's consistent calls for peaceful coexistence and the Government of Egypt's expression of support for the rights of Christians and for religious tolerance.

1st Mar 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the vulnerability of Coptic Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt.

We deplore all discrimination against religious minorities and constraints on their freedom to practise their faith. The Egyptian constitution contains protections for freedom of religious belief and it is important that these rights are respected.

Coptic Christians make up approximately 10% of Egypt's population. There were at least 41 reports of sectarian incidents in Egypt in 2016.

We have regularly raised our concerns about the deterioration in the human rights situation with the Egyptian government, including issues affecting Christians and other minorities. We welcome President Sisi's consistent calls for peaceful coexistence and the Government of Egypt's expression of support for the rights of Christians and for religious tolerance.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iraq to repeal legislation that forces children of parents who convert to Islam automatically to become Muslim.

​We have concerns with Article 26 of the National Identity Card Law as it limits an individual’s freedom of religion. The President of Iraq objected to the clause and although the law was signed, the clause has been referred back to the Council of Representatives for reconsideration, but so far no action has been taken by the Council. We have made clear our concerns to the Government of Iraq. We are working alongside Non-Governmental Organisations, such as the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue, to continue to promote freedom of religion and belief in Iraq.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to rebuild inter-communal trust in areas liberated from Daesh in Iraq.

We are supporting the Iraqi Government’s efforts to rebuild public trust in the Iraqi State and to unite all of Iraq's communities against extremism. We consistently urge the Government of Iraq to take concrete steps towards inclusive and representative local governance, capable of providing basic services and protection. The UK has pledged £9.25 million to the UN's Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation, which is supporting the Iraqi Government to stabilise areas liberated from Daesh. This funding is re-establishing security and basic services, re-creating livelihoods and supporting grassroots reconciliation. Since June 2015, it has helped 862,000 people return to their homes across Iraq. The Secretary of State for International Development, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel) also announced a further £40 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraq at the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2016, specifically to support the response to Mosul.

6th Feb 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what political and financial assistance they are providing to strengthen and develop the structures and mechanisms for interreligious dialogue and co-operation in Iraq.

The UK Government promotes interreligious dialogue and co-operation in Iraq and the right to freedom of religion or belief for all of Iraq’s religious communities. At the political level, we urge the Government of Iraq consistently at senior levels to uphold the rights of all minorities. We also work to build international consensus on upholding freedom of religion or belief. In addition, we support practical projects on community dialogue with civil society and faith groups. For example, through the Foreign Office’s Magna Carta Fund, we have contributed £163,000 to support a project across several countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, to promote legal and social protection for freedom of religion or belief. This project aims to prevent intolerance and violence towards religious communities by inspiring leaders in Iraqi society to defend freedom of religion or belief.

20th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the Specialised Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia to sentence Ali Mohammed Baqir Al-Nimr, Abdullah Al-Zaher and Dawood Al-Marhoon to death by crucifixion for seeking democratic reforms in that country.

The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, especially for crimes other than the most serious and for juveniles, in line with the minimum standards set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty of 2008 and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

We continue to raise the cases of Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon and Adullah Al-Zaher with the Saudi authorities at the highest levels, including during the former Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond)’s most recent visit to Saudi Arabia on 29 May. We expect that Ali Al-Nimr and the two others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed.

20th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made this year to the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the use of beheading and crucifixion as criminal punishments.

The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, especially for crimes other than the most serious and for juveniles, in line with the minimum standards set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty of 2008 and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

We continue to raise the cases of Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon and Adullah Al-Zaher with the Saudi authorities at the highest levels, including during the former Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond)’s most recent visit to Saudi Arabia on 29 May. We expect that Ali Al-Nimr and the two others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed.

20th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia about the use of the death penalty against minors.

The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, especially for crimes other than the most serious and for juveniles, in line with the minimum standards set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty of 2008 and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

We continue to raise the cases of Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon and Adullah Al-Zaher with the Saudi authorities at the highest levels, including during the former Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond)’s most recent visit to Saudi Arabia on 29 May. We expect that Ali Al-Nimr and the two others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed.

20th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the levels of discrimination experienced by Shia citizens in Saudi Arabia in the fields of public education, government employment and religious freedom.

We frequently raise religious freedom as part of our dialogue with the Saudi authorities on a wide range of human rights issues, including freedom of thought, conscience and religion. We pursue this dialogue though a variety of means, including diplomatic channels and Ministerial visits. The Saudi Arabian authorities are encouraging reforms at a pace that is acceptable to Saudi society.

14th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the human rights situation in Bangladesh, especially in relation to the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Our assessment is that the rise in extremist attacks has increased pressure on religious minorities, including Hindus, in Bangladesh.

The former Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), most recently talked to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh about the importance of countering extremism in the margins of the G7 meeting in Japan on 27 May. The former Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), raised this with Foreign Minister Ali on 5 July. The British High Commissioner regularly discusses these issues with Bangladesh government ministers.

14th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Bangladesh about human rights violations against Hindus and bringing to justice those responsible for the destruction of temples and other places of worship.

Our assessment is that the rise in extremist attacks has increased pressure on religious minorities, including Hindus, in Bangladesh.

The former Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), most recently talked to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh about the importance of countering extremism in the margins of the G7 meeting in Japan on 27 May. The former Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), raised this with Foreign Minister Ali on 5 July. The British High Commissioner regularly discusses these issues with Bangladesh government ministers.

14th Jul 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the current level of violence against Hindus in Pakistan.

We remain concerned by ongoing reports of the persecution of the Hindu community in Pakistan. These include incidents of abduction, forced conversion and the forced marriage of Hindu women to Muslim men. We regularly raise our concerns about the treatment of religious minorities, including Hindus, with the Government of Pakistan. The former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), pressed Pakistan to guarantee the rights of all its citizens, including minority religious communities, during his visit to Islamabad in March. We continue to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including on freedom of religion or belief, and to uphold the rule of law.

12th Apr 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assurances they have sought from, and been given by, the government of Iraq that Iraqi security forces and affiliated militias involved in counter-Daesh efforts abide by international humanitarian law and are held accountable for any violations thereof.

We consistently underline with the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government the importance of ensuring that all security forces respect International Humanitarian Law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We are concerned by reports alleging that the Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish Security Forces, Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces and militias have committed human rights abuses and violations.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has committed to investigating allegations of human rights abuses and violations and holding those responsible to account. He has also consistently intervened in security operations to prevent civilian casualties and damage to property.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has undertaken to investigate all allegations made against Kurdish Security Forces. The Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani has recently issued a decree which emphasised the importance of the Kurdish Peshmerga abiding by international and national legal principles.

We will continue to call on states and non-state actors engaged in armed conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and act in accordance to their obligations under it.

12th Apr 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance, if any, they have provided to the government of Iraq to document and investigate reports of missing persons.

We have funded a project to support the victims of Daesh’s persecution and help them pursue justice. We will continue to look at all options to ensure accountability for human rights abuses and violations committed in Iraq. We have not provided any direct support to the Government of Iraq in relation to investigating reports of missing persons.

12th Apr 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what conversations they have had with other members of the UN Security Council about referring the actions of Daesh against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq to the International Criminal Court for further investigation.

We condemn in the strongest terms the targeting and persecution of Yezidis, Christians and other communities by Daesh. We continue to urge the Government of Iraq to do all it can to ensure the security and rights of all communities in Iraq.

We are working with international partners, including members of the UN Security Council, to look at all options to ensure accountability for human rights abuses and violations committed in Iraq.

Although the UN Security Council can refer situations to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor for investigation, we believe that any decision on further investigations must be made on the basis of what will be the most effective means of bringing perpetrators of atrocities to justice.

22nd Mar 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of progress towards political reconciliation and community cohesion in Iraq.

We welcome the commitments that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has made to reaching out to all of Iraq’s communities and delivering the reforms needed to progress reconciliation in Iraq.

Although Prime Minister Abadi has taken a number of important steps in this regard, including appointing the most inclusive government that Iraq has seen for a decade and advancing decentralisation, the reconciliation process remains in the early stages, with progress slow.

Key elements of the reconciliation agenda – including legislation aimed at addressing the grievances of Iraq’s communities - remain at various stages of deliberation in Parliament.

During his recent visit to Iraq the Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), discussed the importance of genuine reform and meaningful reconciliation with Prime Minister Abadi and emphasised the importance of progress. We continue to support Prime Minister Abadi in his efforts to build a better future for all of Iraqis.

22nd Mar 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of Iraq in its efforts to encourage post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction in areas now liberated from Daesh in Iraq.

With our partners in the Global Coalition and the wider international community, the UK is supporting the Government of Iraq’s recovery efforts in areas liberated from Daesh.

In the last year UN Development Programme (UNDP) report that these efforts have contributed to the return of 170,000 people to Tikrit, 49,000 people to Al Dour and 15,000 people to Mkeishifa.

Specific UK support includes providing: £2.5 million for UNDP’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation, which supports community reconciliation and the rehabilitation of infrastructure in newly liberated areas of stabilisation; a stabilisation advisor for UNDP; a Communications Advisor to support the Governor of Anbar; and £225,000 to UN Mine Action Service to establish a coordination unit to assess the scope of explosive threats. During his recent visit to Iraq, the Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), discussed with Prime Minister Abadi the importance of reconciliation and rebuilding the lives of all Iraqis.

22nd Mar 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the extent of freedom of religion or belief in Iraq and in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Government is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion and belief in Iraq and condemns strongly all persecution on the grounds of faith or creed.

The situation for religious communities including Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others in Iraq remains deeply concerning. Daesh has committed atrocities against religious groups and persecuted individuals and communities on the basis of their religion or beliefs.

Freedom of religion and belief is protected in the Iraqi constitution and we welcome the commitments made by the Government of Iraq to protect all Iraqis and address human rights abuses and violations.

We continue to engage with religious leaders both in the UK and in Iraq to discuss the situation of religious communities. We also encourage influential religious leaders in Iraq to speak out publicly and condemn sectarian violence. We are working to build consensus around the importance of freedom of religion and belief, as well as its promotion and protection. This includes funding a project to prevent intolerance and violence towards religious communities by inspiring key leaders in Iraqi society to publicly defend and support the right of all Iraqis to freedom of religion and belief.

7th Dec 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Iraq's National Identity Law, and the impact that it will have on religious minorities in Iraq and their right to freedom of religion or belief.

We are concerned by Iraq’s proposed National Identity Law, in particular Article 26 which could restrict freedom of religion or belief, which is a basic human right.

We welcome the resolution adopted by the majority of the Iraqi Council of Representatives on 17 November declaring its intention to amend the law.

The National Identity Law is yet to be discussed since Parliament has been in recess. We will continue to monitor this issue closely.

7th Dec 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iraq regarding the National Identity Law and the right to freedom of religion or belief for all in Iraq.

We are closely following the proposed National Identity Law in Iraq. Our Embassy in Baghdad has raised at the highest level our concern about the potential effect of the Law, particularly Article 26, on minority ethnic and religious communities of Iraq. We have called on the members of the Council of Representatives to reconsider Article 26 and either remove it, or amend it from the proposed law. We have asked that the determination of the child’s religion for purposes of personal status law should only be made once she or he turns 18 years of age. We welcome the resolution adopted by the majority of the Council of Representatives on 17 November declaring its intention to amend the law. We continue to encourage the Government of Iraq to recognise all religious groups and ensure freedom of religion or belief in Iraq.

17th Nov 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian conditions inside Camp Liberty.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) monitors Camp Liberty and has judged humanitarian standards inside the Camp to be well in excess of basic humanitarian standards. Trucks containing food, medicine and diesel fuel continue to routinely enter the camp.


We continue to engage with the Government of Iraq on the welfare of the residents of Camp Liberty. Our Embassy in Baghdad regularly raises this issue with the Government of Iraq. We support UN calls for more to be done to protect residents, but remain of the view that the Government of Iraq is responsible for security at the camp.

22nd Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of steps taken by Saudi Arabia to revise textbooks, curricula, and teaching methods to remove content disparaging religions other than Islam.

Freedom of religion or belief is severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. Public expression of any religion other than Islam is forbidden, non-Muslims are not permitted to worship openly or establish places of worship in Saudi Arabia although private worship is permitted.


We are aware that the Saudi Arabian authorities have introduced programmes focussed on removing material from text books that might be considered hateful or inciteful. We continue to support dialogue and opportunities for reform.

21st Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support, financial or otherwise, they have provided to the King Adbdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.

The British Government has not provided support, financial or otherwise, to the King Adbdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.

21st Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the freedom of religious minorities in Saudi Arabia to practise their religion or belief in private.

The British Government strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief, which is restricted in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced and the public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal. However, the Saudi authorities do accept foreign workers privately practising religions other than Islam. These restrictions on freedom of religion or belief reflect widely-held conservative social values in Saudi society. The Saudi authorities are encouraging reforms but at a pace that is acceptable to its society.
21st Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect of Saudi Arabia's 2014 Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing on religious freedom in that country.

The British Government has been following Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism and terrorism financing legislation issue closely since it started being implemented on 31 January 2014. There has been no change to the limited level of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia and we are not aware of any persecution of religious groups through this legislation. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continue to monitor this, including through the annual Human Rights and Democracy report.
5th Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to Saudi Arabia regarding the use of beheading and crucifixion as criminal punishments.

The British Government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, especially in cases which do not meet the minimum standards defined by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We believe it undermines human dignity and there is no evidence that it works as a deterrent.

Ministers, our Ambassador in Riyadh, and the Embassy team in Riyadh frequently raise the issue of the death penalty with the Saudi authorities, bilaterally and through the European Union.

5th Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the decision by the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia to uphold the sentencing of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested as a juvenile, to death by crucifixion for seeking democratic reforms in that country.

The British Government is very concerned about the case of Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr. We have raised this case with the Saudi Arabian authorities at a senior level including by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond). We will continue to follow this case closely. The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, especially in cases which do not meet the minimum standards defined by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This includes the execution of a minor and the use of the death penalty for a crime which isn’t deemed “the most serious”.

15th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure the protection of civilians from war crimes committed in the conflict in Syria.

We have a long-standing commitment to accountability for human rights violations and abuses. We will continue to press for the protection of civilians in the UN Security Council where we have secured vital resolutions to improve humanitarian access and seek accountability for chemical weapons attacks. These resolutions have also consistently called for an end to attacks on civilians.

We continue to support the UN Commission of Inquiry’s investigations into human rights violations and abuses in Syria. In partnership with other donor countries, we are funding the collection of documentary evidence for use in possible legal processes in the future. Last year the UK co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution to refer all those responsible for war-crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, regardless of affiliation, to the International Criminal Court. Russia and China chose to veto this resolution.

14th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their current assessment of the number of "price tag" attacks on church property in Israel.

We condemn all extremist violence, including those attacks against religious buildings. Whilst most ‘price tag’ attacks have taken place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we are aware that on 18 June the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, was set on fire and vandalised with graffiti. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised this at the time with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and National Security Council. Although it did not occur in Israel, it is worth noting the arson attack that took place in February on a Greek Orthodox seminary in East Jerusalem, again with inflammatory graffiti. We are also aware that Muslim and Jewish holy places are desecrated and we unequivocally condemn all such incidents. On 10 September the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised their concerns for peace in the region with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

14th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current differences in the levels of funding between Christian schools and other schools in Israel.

We assess that government funding per student for Christian schools has fallen by approximately 50% during the last five years. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised this issue with the Israeli Ministry of Education in the summer.

25th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the steps taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to combat exclusionary and intolerant interpretations of religious texts by religious clerics.

The Saudi Arabian government, from His Royal Highness King Salman down, continue to challenge exclusionary and intolerant interpretations of religious texts by religious clerics, as does the religious establishment. During his accession speech King Salman called for tolerance amongst religions, and during his recent speech marking the start of Ramadan he reaffirmed that he was firmly against any kind of sectarian classification or divisions among the different schools of Islam. The Saudi Arabian authorities have a programme to ensure that text books no longer contain material that could be considered hateful or inciteful. We will continue to support dialogue and opportunities for reform. However, freedom of religion or belief is severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. Public expression of any religion other than Islam is forbidden and non-Muslims are not permitted to worship openly or establish places of worship in Saudi Arabia, although private worship is permitted.

25th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar concerning the Population Control Health Care Law and how it can be implemented in a non-discriminatory way.

We have made representations on all four of the so-called ‘protection of race and religion bills’, including the population law. We remain concerned that these laws could harm religious tolerance and respect for diversity in Burma, and contravene international standards and treaties to which Burma is a signatory. We have voiced our concerns over the proposed legislation to members of the Burmese government and parliamentarians. The then Minister of State for the Home Department, the right hon. Lynne Featherstone, raised the issue when she met Deputy Foreign Minister Thant Kyaw during her visit to Burma in January. The UK also endorsed a local statement issued by EU Heads of Mission in Rangoon in January, reiterating those concerns and calling on the Burmese government and parliament to ensure that all new legislation is fully compliant with Burma’s international human rights obligations. The population bill was also raised in the EU/Burma Human Rights Dialogue on 18 June.

25th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Indonesia in its efforts to provide greater legislative protection for freedom of religion or belief in that country.

Our Ambassador in Jakarta met the Indonesian Minister for Religious Affairs in April this year. During the meeting, he urged greater protection of religious beliefs and they discussed the Ministry’s forthcoming bill on protection for religious and faith communities (RUU PUB) on which the Ambassador offered UK assistance and expertise.

We have also supported a range of activities in this area, such as human rights training specifically related to freedom of religion for members of the Indonesian judiciary.

25th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Sudan regarding the continued imprisonment and persecution of the Reverend Yat Michael and the Reverend Peter Reith.

I refer the noble Bishop to my answer of 22 June to the noble Baroness Cox (HL315), that our Embassy in Khartoum has previously raised these cases with the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since then we have maintained close contact with the legal teams working on behalf of the two pastors, and an official from our Embassy in Khartoum attended the latest court hearing on 15 June. We will continue to co-ordinate with other Embassies in Khartoum to ensure the international community is represented at the ongoing legal proceedings.

25th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of hostility towards religious minorities in Israel following the arsonist attack on and desecration of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves in Tabgha on the night of 17 June.

Freedom of religion or belief continues to be a priority for this Government. We regularly raise individual cases and discriminatory legislation with other governments and we support overseas programmes designed to overcome prejudice, discrimination and sectarianism.

On 18 June, officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv lobbied senior contacts in the Israeli National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure quick and high level condemnation and action from the Israeli government to catch the perpetrators of this attack. On 19 June our Ambassador in Tel Aviv issued a local statement criticising the vandalising and burning of the Church "Loaves and Fishes" at the Kineret. He said "This was a disgusting act of disrespect at one of Christianity's holiest sites. The British Government welcomes the determination of the Israeli authorities to bring those responsible to justice.”

16th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the long-term future of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq; and what steps they are taking to assist Iraq's religious minorities.

The British Government continues to condemn in the strongest terms the atrocities committed by the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) against all communities throughout the areas under its control. There is no doubt that religious and ethnic minorities face real dangers and great hardship in parts of Iraq. To safeguard the future of religious minorities we have to confront, drive back, dismantle and ultimately defeat ISIL and promote an inclusive and stable Iraq that recognises the importance of all its communities.

We are in contact with religious leaders to discuss this issue. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), visited Iraq on 12 February and encouraged Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to continue progress on ensuring that all minorities are represented and their rights protected. I met Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil to discuss the ongoing situation in northern Iraq.

In 2015/16, the recently launched Conflict, Security and Stability Fund will provide funding for a number of projects in Iraq. One key strand of this work will focus on community cohesion, encouraging reconciliation and promoting acceptance and tolerance between communities at a grass roots level. We continue to encourage influential religious leaders in Iraq to speak out publicly and condemn sectarian violence. We will continue to explore what further support we might be able to provide to vulnerable groups and internally displaced persons.

16th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Iraq and what assessment they have made of the steps taken by the government of Iraq to protect this human right.

We firmly believe in the importance of freedom of religion or belief. The persecution of individuals of all faiths, anywhere in the world, is of profound concern to us. The self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is seeking to stoke sectarian conflict across the Middle East and has launched a campaign of violence and terror in Iraq and carried out appalling atrocities against people from all communities.

We welcome the commitments that Prime Minister al-Abadi has made to inclusivity, to protecting Iraqi citizens, addressing human rights abuses and holding those responsible to account.

In 2015/16, the recently launched Conflict, Security and Stability Fund will provide funding for a number of projects in Iraq. One key strand of this work will focus on community cohesion, encouraging reconciliation and promoting acceptance and tolerance between communities at a grass roots level. We continue to encourage influential religious leaders in Iraq to speak out publicly and condemn sectarian violence.

16th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of Iraq with its community-building efforts in post-conflict areas such as Tikrit where ISIS have been expelled.

Restoring security, governance and vital services to areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are important for the safe return of those displaced by violence and to stop ISIL retaking ground. This stabilisation work is one of the five lines of effort in the Counter-ISIL Coalition’s strategy. It must be led by the Iraqi government, but closely supported by the international Counter-ISIL Coalition.

The UK is actively supporting the Iraqi government in a number of ways: as a key member of the Coalition Stabilisation Working Group; providing technical expertise and advice to the Iraqi government-led Stabilisation Task Force in Baghdad; and through our military and humanitarian support. On 2 June, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), joined other Coalition ministers to review the Coalition’s progress in defeating ISIL, including ways to support communities recovering from the effects of ISIL’s brutal occupation. During the meeting, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK would pledge £2 million in support to the UN Development Programme’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation.

16th Jun 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent assessment of the steps taken by the government of Iraq to encourage political reconciliation and the move towards an inclusive framework of government in Iraq.

We welcome the commitments that Prime Minister al-Abadi has made to reaching out to all of Iraq’s communities, including the Sunni community, and delivering the reforms needed to secure a meaningful political settlement. Prime Minister al-Abadi has already taken some important steps in this regard, including appointing the most inclusive government that Iraq has seen for a decade, securing an important revenue sharing deal with the Kurdistan Regional government and building cross-party support for the 2015 budget. We will continue to support Prime Minister al-Abadi as he works to progress political reconciliation and a unified response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
9th Feb 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance have they provided or intend to provide to those human rights organisations committed to strengthening India’s commitment to and respect for Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We regularly discuss issues around freedom of religion and belief with the Indian government and faith leaders. We also support freedom of religion or belief in India through Department for International Development programmes which help to promote equal treatment and access to services for all, including the most disadvantaged communities.

9th Feb 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations have they made to the government of India regarding the practice of forced, fraudulent or induced conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism in India.

UK Ministers and officials from our High Commission in New Delhi discuss religious and minority issues with the Indian National Commission for Minorities and other relevant State-level authorities. Most recently, the Minister of State at the Home Office with responsibility for Crime Prevention, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), met the Indian Minister for Minorities in January. Our High Commission also maintains regular contact with senior faith leaders and along with EU partners met with the Archbishop of Delhi on 13 February. During their visit to India last week, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association also discussed the recent attacks on churches in New Delhi with the Indian Minister for Minorities. We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the new Indian government about religious and minority rights issues.

9th Feb 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in India following the election of Prime Minister Modi.

UK Ministers and officials from our High Commission in New Delhi discuss religious and minority issues with the Indian National Commission for Minorities and other relevant State-level authorities. Most recently, the Minister of State at the Home Office with responsibility for Crime Prevention, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), met the Indian Minister for Minorities in January. Our High Commission also maintains regular contact with senior faith leaders and along with EU partners met with the Archbishop of Delhi on 13 February. During their visit to India last week, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association also discussed the recent attacks on churches in New Delhi with the Indian Minister for Minorities. We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the new Indian government about religious and minority rights issues.

24th Nov 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ability of members of the Baha’i community in Iran to bury their dead in accordance with the rituals of their faith.

The UK remains concerned over restrictions on freedom of religion in Iran. We were deeply concerned to learn of the destruction of a Baha’i cemetery in Shiraz, where approximately 950 Baha’is are buried. We continue to call for Iran to abide by its international commitments to ensure all Iranians are free to practice their religion without fear of persecution. This includes protection of religious sites. The UK last raised our concerns about freedom of religion in Iran during our inputs in Iran’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council on 31 October.

24th Nov 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Foreign Secretary, in his meeting with Hadi al-Bahra on 10 November, discussed the Syrian Opposition's commitment to guarantee freedom of religion or belief for all religious minorities in Syria.

These issues were not raised on this occasion. We have in the past pressed the National Coalition to be inclusive, respecting all sections of Syrian society including ethnic and religious minorities. The National Coalition has made strenuous efforts to broaden its membership base which includes Kurds, Christians and other religious and ethnic groups demonstrating that it has a democratic and pluralistic vision for Syria.

3rd Nov 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the government of Egypt’s commitment to freedom of religion and the case for political reconciliation in Egypt were amongst the issues raised by the Prime Minister in his meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 27 October.

The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised international concerns about the human rights situation and political inclusiveness in Egypt with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shukri on 27 October.

The Egyptian constitution contains protection for freedom of religious belief and it is important that this is respected. The British Government will continue to raise concerns with the Egyptian authorities and to encourage them to promote and defend the freedom of religion.

We believe that a genuinely open political process, in which all political groups are able to participate, offers the best prospect of long-term political stability in Egypt. Shukri assured the Prime Minister that Parliamentary elections would take place in the coming months.

23rd Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia regarding the decision taken on 15 October by the Specialized Criminal Court to sentence to death Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric.

We understand that Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has been sentenced to death. It is still possible for him to appeal the decision.

The death penalty undermines human dignity and its abolition is a human rights priority for the UK. Government Ministers, our Ambassador in Riyadh and officials from our Embassy raise the issue of the death penalty with the Saudi authorities, both bilaterally and through the EU. We recognise that total abolition of the death penalty is unlikely in Saudi Arabia in the near future. Our focus is therefore on the introduction of EU minimum standards for the death penalty as a first step, and on supporting access to justice and rule of law.

23rd Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Saudi Arabia and the extent to which discrimination against and restrictions experienced by Shiite Muslims contribute to sectarian unrest and dissent in that country.

The British Government strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief, which is severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. We make our views well known through the UN Universal Periodic Review Process, in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report, and to the Saudi Arabian authorities. We have made clear the importance of religious tolerance, including for different branches of Islam. There are some long-standing tensions between some Shia communities in the Eastern Province and the Saudi authorities. We continue to monitor developments. We welcome all efforts to increase religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia, including the recent calls by King Abdullah and Saudi religious leaders for greater religious tolerance in the Kingdom.

23rd Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court; and whether they consider that the proceedings of that Court are compatible with international human rights standards.

The Specialised Criminal Court came into operation in Saudi Arabia in 2008 to try cases related to security and terrorism. We support Saudi Arabia’s judicial reform programme, particularly greater judicial training. However our concerns about the Saudi justice system remain and we continue to raise the importance of adhering to international human rights law with the Saudi authorities.

20th Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what practical assistance and support they are providing to the government of Iraq in taking forward a credible programme of political reform and reconciliation in that country.

Political reconciliation and reform are crucial if there is to be a long-term solution to the current instability in Iraq. We therefore welcome the new Government of Iraq’s commitment to inclusive governance. We will support them in implementing their programme wherever we can and have called for others in the international community to do the same. We are already providing assistance with the development of parliamentary democracy, community policing and dialogue between religious leaders. We are in regular contact with the new Iraqi government over national reconciliation and, in particular, with Vice-President Allawi, whose responsibility it is. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised the importance of reform and reconciliation with Vice-President Allawi during his recent visit to London and our ambassador in Baghdad has also discussed it with him on a number of occasions.
20th Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to work with Syria's religious communities, including the smallest minority communities and their political and civic representatives, to help them reach agreement on what measures are needed to ensure religious freedom and security for all communities in that country.

We are supporting non-governmental efforts to promote dialogue between different ethnic and sectarian groups in Syria, with a view to a future political settlement. We are also funding training for Syrian activists to document abuses to a criminal law standard with the aim that this documentation could be used in a future process of accountability.

In the long run the only way to secure the position of Syria’s minority communities is to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis. The UK is determined to support the moderate opposition, who are working for an inclusive political settlement, and are committed to protect all of Syria’s communities and resist, extremists and authoritarian regimes.

20th Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to ensure that any assistance provided to opposition groups in Syria does not either directly or indirectly support any militia, non-state actor or other organisation credibly charged with involvement in sectarian or religiously motivated violence.

The assistance we provide, including to the armed opposition groups, has undergone intense scrutiny to ensure that we are providing the best possible support and that we meet all our national and international obligations. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure its provision is consistent with export controls under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and EU restrictions on the provision of goods to Syria (as agreed by Member States on 27 May 2013). The UK does not supply weapons to anybody in Syria.

20th Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what conversations they have had with the government of Iraq about the implementation of proposals announced by that government in January 2014 to create three new provinces, including one in the largely Christian Nineveh Plains.

These proposals have not yet been implemented, but we support the new Government of Iraq’s commitment to decentralised governance and greater sharing of power with the provinces. This will form an important part of efforts to increase political inclusivity, which is necessary if the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are to be driven out of Iraq for the long term.

20th Oct 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iraq about Iraq either acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court or accepting the exercise of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction with respect to the current situation facing that country.

The UK is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the principle of universality. We have consistently raised Iraq’s responsibility to observe international laws and obligations in our contact with the Government of Iraq. The UK has not, to date, made representations to the current Government of Iraq regarding to accession to the Rome Statute or accepting ICC jurisdiction in relation to the current situation in the country. Any decision to involve the ICC must be made on the basis of whether the court would prove an effective means of bringing the perpetrators of atrocities to justice. We will continue to look at every available option for ensuring accountability.

26th Sep 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all sides of the Syrian conflict adhere to the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2165 requiring all parties to cease indiscriminate attacks.

We are concerned about indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Syria which contravene international law. The UK has consistently called upon all parties in the conflict to respect international law and played a leading role in initiating and securing the passing of UN Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2165, which demand that all parties cease all attacks against civilians and comply fully with their obligations to protect civilians in armed conflict. The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry’s most recent report was clear that the Assad regime, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other extremist groups, were behind the majority of such attacks. On 25 September 2014, the UK and our partners secured a strong resolution at the UN Human Rights Council which demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry.

In partnership with other donor countries, we have funded the collection of documentary evidence of human rights abuses to allow those responsible to be held accountable. We have also funded Law of Armed Conflict training to help armed groups understand their responsibilities and obligations under international law and international human rights standards. We welcome the commitment of the Syrian National Coalition and associated moderate armed groups to abide by these standards.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to referring the alleged human rights abuses committed by ISIS to the International Criminal Court for further investigation and eventual prosecution.

We condemn all human rights abuses in Iraq. However, Iraq is not a state party to the International Criminal Court and any referral would need to be through the UN Security Council. We have no plans for this at present but we will keep this under review. We are calling on the Government of Iraq to ensure that all crimes and human rights abuses committed in Iraq are properly documented to assist with the investigation, and bringing those responsible to account in the future.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist religious leaders in Iraq to respond collaboratively and in a non-sectarian manner to the human rights abuses allegedly committed in Iraq.

We condemn the reported human rights abuses in Iraq and call for those responsible to be held to account. We meet representatives of Iraqi religious groups both in the UK and in Iraq, and fund a series of grass roots meetings with religious leaders of different faiths to combat sectarianism. We are encouraging influential religious leaders in Iraq to speak out publicly and condemn sectarian violence. The High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq has issued a strong statement of solidarity with Christians and Muslims in Mosul and Ninevah, citing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's actions to be entirely un-Islamic.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the state of freedom of religion and belief in Iraq.

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Iraq including freedom of religion and belief. We condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) threats to ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, including Christian, Yezidi and Turkomen and the desecration of mosques and churches by ISIL. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the member for Bournemouth East ( Mr Ellwood), met Archbishop Athanasius of the Syriac Orthodox Church in London on 29 July and issued a statement strongly condemning the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Iraq. Our Ambassador in Baghdad has met religious representatives, including Chaldean Patriarch Luis Sako, and the Consul General in Erbil has met the Archbishop of Erbil and the Archbishop of Mosul to discuss the current situation, the needs of the Christian community, and UK humanitarian assistance to those displaced by fighting in Iraq. On Sunday 3 August, the British Chargé d‘Affaires attended a service at St George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, joined by officials from our Embassy, to highlight the British Government’s continued support to Christians and other minorities affected by recent violence in Iraq.

3rd Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the preliminary assessment of the European Union's election observation mission to Egypt on 29 May, which claimed that the presidential election in Egypt was administered in an environment that fell short of the principles of the new constitution.

The European Union election observation mission to Egypt issued a preliminary statement on 29 May. Their headline assessment was “Presidential elections administered in line with the law, in an environment falling short of constitutional principles”. We followed the presidential election closely and staff from our Cairo Embassy took part in the EU's Electoral Observation Mission. The EU Observation Mission will issue its full report in due course.

The EU Observation Mission reflected concern about the Egyptian public's ability to express political dissent and exercise freedom of speech or association. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised these concerns in the run up to the elections with his Egyptian counterpart, most recently on 14 May, and in a statement on 3 June. We look to President Sisi to take steps to implement the rights contained in Egypt's constitution by opening up political space, especially with regard to freedom of expression and association.

3rd Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the European Union's support for partnership, reforms and inclusive growth and the impact that it is having in consolidating democratic reform and institution-building in Egypt.

The EU has made considerable efforts to support political transition in Egypt since 2011, through its European Neighbourhood Policy and “Support for Partnership, Reforms and Inclusive Growth” (SPRING) funding.

In their report on the 2014 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) package, ‘Neighbourhood at a Crossroads: Taking Stock of a Year of Challenges' issued in March 2014, the European External Access Service and Commission found that no significant progress had been made towards the current ENP action plan in 2013 and most of the recommendations made in last year's report were still relevant. It found that Egypt needed to make improvements in key areas, such as to ensure the constitution is implemented with full respect for human rights, create conditions for an active civil society, and ensure the protection of women's rights and gender equality. Since this report the EU also provided an Election Observation Mission to monitor Presidential elections in May 2014.

An initial amount of €90 million was allocated in 2011-12 to Egypt from the EU's SPRING funds, part of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Subsequent political and human rights developments meant that no further funding from this mechanism was allocated to Egypt at that time.

4th Jun 2014
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the resources for projects under the Human Rights and Democracy Programme were allocated to the area of freedom of religion and belief in 2013.

In the 2013-14 financial year the Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP) received 218 proposals for funding. Seventeen of these proposals were for work associated with Freedom of Religion and Belief (FORB), representing 7.8% of proposals received. Six projects were ultimately funded, to the value of £214,029. This represents 3.3% of the total resource available.

The programme is keen to see more good quality project bids on this theme in future bidding rounds, and have actively encouraged more quality bids for the 2014-15 financial year.

4th Jun 2014
To ask Her Majesty's Government for how many projects they provided funding under the Human Rights and Democracy Programme in 2013 for work associated with freedom of religion and belief.

In the 2013-14 financial year the Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP) received 218 proposals for funding. Seventeen of these proposals were for work associated with Freedom of Religion and Belief (FORB), representing 7.8% of proposals received. Six projects were ultimately funded, to the value of £214,029. This represents 3.3% of the total resource available.

The programme is keen to see more good quality project bids on this theme in future bidding rounds, and have actively encouraged more quality bids for the 2014-15 financial year.

4th Jun 2014
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications they received for funding under the Human Rights and Democracy Programme in 2013 for work associated with freedom of religion or belief.

In the 2013-14 financial year the Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP) received 218 proposals for funding. Seventeen of these proposals were for work associated with Freedom of Religion and Belief (FORB), representing 7.8% of proposals received. Six projects were ultimately funded, to the value of £214,029. This represents 3.3% of the total resource available.

The programme is keen to see more good quality project bids on this theme in future bidding rounds, and have actively encouraged more quality bids for the 2014-15 financial year.

6th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to identify the presence of alleged Rwandan war criminals in the UK, and (2) to prosecute those who participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

If a UK resident has been responsible for core international crimes anywhere in the world, they may be investigated and prosecuted in the UK.

The Metropolitan Police has national responsibility for carrying out UK police inquiries for the investigation of all allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and torture. The Home Office do not hold information as to when any police investigations are likely to conclude.

All allegations of war crimes referred to the War Crimes Team are considered, assessed and dealt with in line with the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity referral guidelines, which are jointly agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service CPS - https://www.cps.gov.uk/publication/war-crimescrimes-against-humanity-referral-guidelines

Lord Sharpe of Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Jun 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of what constitutes persecution of groups of people.

The Government defines persecution as an act that is sufficient serious in nature and repetition as to constitute a severe violation of basic human rights. Such acts could be perpetrated against individuals or groups of people.

The definition is contained in the Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006, which reflect the Refugee Convention and EU law.

We support those who have suffered persecution by providing a place of safety for refugees through our resettlement schemes and the in-country asylum process.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
19th Nov 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications for asylum from Pakistan on grounds of religious persecution they received in the years ending (1) June 2015, (2) June 2016, (3) June 2017, and (4) June 2018; and of those, how many applications were granted in each year.

All asylum claims lodged in the UK are carefully considered on their individual merits against a background of relevant case law and up to date country information. We ensure that claimants are given every opportunity to disclose information relevant to their claim under a Convention reason as set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The data required to answer the question is not recorded in a way that can be reported on accurately. The Home Office does not electronically record the Convention reason on which an individual claims asylum and so we cannot identify how many asylum claimants, from a specific country, have been granted asylum due to a claim made on the grounds of religious persecution.

However, the Home Office publishes figures on the outcome of all asylum claims, which can be broken down by nationality, in the Immigration Statistics release. The breakdown is as follows:

Year ending

Jun-15

Jun-16

Jun-17

Jun-18

Applications from Pakistani nationals

2313

3000

2598

2313

Grants of Pakistani nationals; Including Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary leave, Exceptional Leave and other grants of Leave outside the Rules.

610

300

295

294

Grants of Asylum of Pakistani nationals

568

288

277

269

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
19th Nov 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from the family of Asia Bibi that they be granted asylum in the UK.

As the Prime Minister set out on 14 November, the release of Asia Bibi will be very welcome news to her family and to all those who have campaigned in Pakistan and around the world for her release. We welcome the assurances the Government of Pakistan has given on keeping her and her family safe and it is important that all countries seek to uphold the rule of law and afford security and protection for the rights of all citizens irrespective of faith or belief.

It is a longstanding Government policy not to comment on individual cases. In accordance with our duty of confidentiality, we cannot confirm whether an asylum claim has been received or the outcome of such a request.
Departing from this policy may put individuals and their family members in danger.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
16th Jul 2018
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of why the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has referred so few Christians, Yazidis and other Syrian religious minorities for resettlement in the UK; whether any members of those minorities were resettled in the UK in the first quarter of 2018; and if not, why not.

In resettlement, the UK works according to the humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality which means that we do not take into consideration the ethno-religious origins of people requiring assistance as we resettle solely on the basis of needs, identified by UNHCR through their established submission categories.

We believe that one way to protect the privacy of those being resettled and ensure their recovery and integration is to limit the amount of information about them that we make publicly available. We therefore do not believe it is appropriate to publish a religious and ethnic breakdown of those who have been resettled.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
7th Dec 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to review their visa policy towards those travelling to the UK from Iraq and Syria.

All applications for visas, entry clearance and leave to enter at the UK border are considered on their merits, in accordance with the criteria set out in the published Immigration Rules , regardless of the applicant’s nationality or where they live. A variety of factors may be taken into account when considering the application, but that would depend upon the applicant’s personal circumstances and what they had applied to do in the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
7th Dec 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to review why the Archbishop of Mosul, the Archbishop of St Matthews and the Archbishop of Homs and Hama were refused visas to travel to the UK from Iraq and Syria to attend the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London.

All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules. In order to safeguard an individual’s personal information and comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 the Home Office does not routinely comment on individual cases.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
7th Dec 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many visas in 2015 and 2016 were (1) issued, and (2) refused, to those applying to travel to the UK from Iraq and Syria.

The latest quarterly Home Office immigration statistics on entry clearance visas are published in 'Immigration Statistics, April - June 2016', available from the Gov.uk website. The information on applications for Iraq and Syria is set out below.

Entry clearance visa applications and resolution by selected country of nationality

Quarter

Country of nationality

Applications

Resolved

Granted

%

Refused

%

Withdrawn

Lapsed

2015 Q1

Iraq

3,183

3,248

1,353

42%

1,814

56%

80

1

2015 Q2

Iraq

3,417

3,320

1,273

38%

1,939

58%

108

0

2015 Q3

Iraq

3,534

3,486

1,284

37%

2,174

62%

28

0

2015 Q4

Iraq

2,564

2,846

1,061

37%

1,753

62%

32

0

2016 Q1

Iraq

2,239

2,279

976

43%

1,206

53%

97

0

2016 Q2

Iraq

2,804

2,593

1,104

43%

1,471

57%

18

0

2016 Q3

Iraq

2,692

2,732

1,369

50%

1,343

49%

20

0

Quarter

Country of nationality

Applications

Resolved

Granted

%

Refused

%

Withdrawn

Lapsed

2015 Q1

Syria

1,929

1,768

729

41%

1,022

58%

17

0

2015 Q2

Syria

2,332

2,246

892

40%

1,334

59%

17

3

2015 Q3

Syria

2,812

2,910

1,331

46%

1,565

54%

12

2

2015 Q4

Syria

4,131

4,136

2,966

72%

1,145

28%

24

1

2016 Q1

Syria

2,268

2,403

1,385

58%

996

41%

20

2

2016 Q2

Syria

3,595

3,391

2,391

71%

988

29%

12

0

2016 Q3

Syria

3,567

3,834

2,790

73%

1,031

27%

13

0

Notes: The table shows the number of entry clearance applications resolved, and of those, the proportion refused. Includes main applicants and dependants, and visitor and transit visas.

Source: Immigration Statistics, July - September 2016, Home Office, table vi_02_q

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
15th Sep 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of current counter terrorism legislation; and whether it prevents funding of Syrian non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations who are best placed to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Syria.

UK counter-terrorism legislation is kept under constant review to ensure the police and the security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to tackle all new and existing threats, whether home grown or international. Our continued focus rightly seeks to dissuade individuals from travelling to places of conflict and to work with communities to prevent the radicalisation of individuals. We also seek to ensure that where individuals have undertaken illegal activities, whether at home or abroad, they are not beyond the reach of the law and can be prosecuted.

UK counter-terrorism legislation is subject to robust independent oversight. The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, currently David Anderson QC, reviews the legislation and reports his findings to Parliament annually. The Government gives careful consideration to these reports and any recommendations he may make. For example, following a recommendation in his last annual report released in July 2014, officials have opened a dialogue with international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) about their operations overseas and the parameters within which they work. This constructive dialogue is continuing.

Ensuring an effective response to humanitarian crises is a key objective for this Government. In line with the key humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality, we work with trusted humanitarian partners with experience of operating in fragile and conflict affected states, to ensure that aid is delivered to people on a needs basis. In 2015/16 the Department for International Development is working with 18 humanitarian partners in Syria and 18 partners in neighbouring countries. These include UN agencies, Red Cross/Crescent organisations, INGOs and international financial institutions, who in turn work with local NGOs and civil society organisations. The Government also work with a range of partners utilising the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, including Syrian organisations, INGOs, the private sector, academic institutions, international organisations and other donors. We apply a rigorous process of due diligence, where partners must demonstrate accountable and transparent governance structures and financial procedures, as well as compliance with relevant legislation.

24th Nov 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the number of United Kingdom based jihadists travelling to the Middle East and North Africa has increased following the decision by Parliament to authorize the use of military force against ISIS in Iraq; and if so, what additional measures they are taking to halt the flow.

There is no evidence that the number of UK individuals travelling to the region has increased since the decision by Parliament to join the International Coalition action against ISIL in Iraq.

26th Sep 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to reconsider joining the UNHCR resettlement programme for Syrian refugees.

The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) Scheme operates in parallel with the UNHCR's Syria Humanitarian Admission Programme (HAP). There are no plans to
reconsider joining the HAP as the VPR scheme is based on need rather than fulfilling a quota. However, we work very closely with UNHCR to identify the most vulnerable people and the scheme has their full co-operation. The VPR is relocating several hundred of the most vulnerable Syrians displaced by the conflict to the UK.


The UK is the second largest bi-lateral donor after the USA.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling in the United Kingdom a proportion of those displaced from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.

There are no current plans to resettle those displaced from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq. However, we are proud of the UK’s record of offering protection to those genuinely in need, and the Government will of course continue to consider asylum claims, including applications from Iraqi nationals suffering religious persecution, under our normal rules.

28th Jul 2014
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance is given to the Counter Terrorism Unit concerning its involvement in the reception and integration of Syrian refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

The safety and security of the UK are our priority. An essential part of delivering this is knowing who is coming to the UK and carrying out all necessary checks in advance of their arrival. We therefore ensure that the necessary checks are undertaken before those accepted on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme arrive in the UK. We have also been working with local partners, including local authorities, the police and healthcare sector, to ensure the safeguarding of individuals on the scheme when they arrive in the UK.

2nd Oct 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to evaluate the deployment of airpower in heavily populated areas following the liberation of Mosul.

UK airstrikes always follow the principles of international humanitarian law: necessity, proportionality, distinction between combatants and non-combatant civilians, and the prevention of unnecessary suffering. The complex and congested urban environment of Mosul presented particular challenges for those undertaking airstrikes as part of the Coalition support to forces on the ground against Daesh. Our rigorous targeting processes take into account the conditions on the ground, including the potential presence of a civilian population. We undertake a battle damage assessment after every airstrike. This assessment examines all the available records including video, and one of its roles is the identification of any collateral damage, including civilian casualties. If any such assessment indicated anything that should be scrutinised further, a full investigation would be undertaken, with appropriate resources allocated to it. Thus there is no requirement for a further evaluation of the deployment of UK airpower in the campaign against Daesh.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
2nd Oct 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to investigate unintended civilian casualties arising from UK participation in the US led coalition airstrikes to liberate Mosul; and if so, what resources they (1) have committed, and (2) intend to commit, to that investigation.

UK airstrikes always follow the principles of international humanitarian law: necessity, proportionality, distinction between combatants and non-combatant civilians, and the prevention of unnecessary suffering. The complex and congested urban environment of Mosul presented particular challenges for those undertaking airstrikes as part of the Coalition support to forces on the ground against Daesh. Our rigorous targeting processes take into account the conditions on the ground, including the potential presence of a civilian population. We undertake a battle damage assessment after every airstrike. This assessment examines all the available records including video, and one of its roles is the identification of any collateral damage, including civilian casualties. If any such assessment indicated anything that should be scrutinised further, a full investigation would be undertaken, with appropriate resources allocated to it. Thus there is no requirement for a further evaluation of the deployment of UK airpower in the campaign against Daesh.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
2nd Oct 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of civilians killed during the liberation of Mosul.

UK airstrikes always follow the principles of international humanitarian law: necessity, proportionality, distinction between combatants and non-combatant civilians, and the prevention of unnecessary suffering. The complex and congested urban environment of Mosul presented particular challenges for those undertaking airstrikes as part of the Coalition support to forces on the ground against Daesh. Our rigorous targeting processes take into account the conditions on the ground, including the potential presence of a civilian population. We undertake a battle damage assessment after every airstrike. This assessment examines all the available records including video, and one of its roles is the identification of any collateral damage, including civilian casualties. If any such assessment indicated anything that should be scrutinised further, a full investigation would be undertaken, with appropriate resources allocated to it. Thus there is no requirement for a further evaluation of the deployment of UK airpower in the campaign against Daesh.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
2nd Oct 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the cost of the UK's participation in the US led coalition air strikes in support of the liberation of Mosul.

The net additional costs of counter-Daesh operations are as follows:

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Total (£ million)

47.2

262.4

469.4

Net additional costs are those costs that the Ministry of Defence would not otherwise have incurred but for the operations.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
5th Sep 2017
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the suspension of military assistance, including training, for the Burmese army.

In light of the ongoing violence in Burma's Rakhine State and the growing humanitarian crisis it has caused, the UK Ministry of Defence has decided to suspend all training and educational courses provided to the Burmese military with immediate effect.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
8th Dec 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what has been the financial cost to date of UK air strikes against Daesh in Iraq.


It is not possible to separate out the costs of military action in Iraq from that of wider counter-Daesh operations due to the inter-related nature of UK military activity. The net additional cost of UK counter-Daesh operations to date is approximately £150 million. This includes around £80 million for military operations between August 2014 - 31 March 2015 and a net additional cost to date in this financial year of around £70 million.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
5th Oct 2015
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review their commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia in the light of the sentencing of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr to death by crucifixion.

I refer the Right Reverend to the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor’s statement of 13 October 2015. The bid to provide a training needs analysis to the Saudi Arabian prison service under the Just Solutions international (JSi) brand has now been withdrawn. As has previously been announced, Just Solutions international, the commercial arm of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), has ceased to operate. This is in line with our ambition to ensure the department’s resources are firmly focused on domestic priorities.