Mr Gavin Shuker Written Questions

Questions to Foreign and Commonwealth Office tabled by Mr Gavin Shuker


Date Title Questioner
11 Jun 2018, 2:33 p.m. India: Pakistan Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that the recent ceasefire between India and Pakistan (a) lasts and (b) marks the beginning of a peace process in the region.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Government is concerned by recent reports of high levels of firing and shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops over the Line of Control in Kashmir. We continue to follow developments closely, encourage dialogue and call for both sides to exercise restraint. The UK'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 the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to act as a mediator. We welcome recent contact between Indian and Pakistani militaries in an effort to reduce firing over the Line of Control.

24 May 2018, 4:19 p.m. Noura Hussein Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to (a) the government of Sudan and (b) other governments in that region on the case of Noura Hussein.

Answer (Harriett Baldwin)

The UK Ambassador to Sudan raised our deep concern about Noura Hussein's case at a senior level with the Government of Sudan on 15 May, making clear our strong opposition to the use of the death penalty and to forced marriage. We released a statement on the same day in partnership with EU member states and others confirming our firm opposition to the death penalty and calling on all States to join a moratorium on its use, while working towards its definitive abolition.

27 Feb 2018, 3:45 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support freedom of religion and belief in other countries to meet the strategic commitment to supporting freedom of religion and belief set out in the FCO Departmental Plan 2015-2020.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Departmental Plan 2015-2020 was replaced in December 2017 with the FCO Single Departmental Plan which can be found on gov.uk. In step with the new plan, the FCO continues to promote and defend human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

In our ongoing dialogue with foreign governments and through public statements, the FCO raises individual cases and highlights practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief. For example, during my visit to Pakistan in November 2017, I raised the treatment of religious minorities, including discrimination and violence against the Ahmadiyya and Christian communities, with Pakistan's Ministry of Human Rights.

The United Kingdom also actively promotes FoRB through multilateral diplomacy. At the United Nations, we work to maintain consensus on the adoption and implementation of the European Union sponsored Resolution on 'Freedom of Religion or Belief' and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation sponsored Resolution on 'Combating Religious Intolerance'.

Through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the FCO continues to support a number of projects to promote tolerance. Current projects include work to promote religious tolerance through secondary school curricula in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon, and a project which supports a network of human rights defenders in South Asia working on this priority.

14 Feb 2018, 3:31 p.m. Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what projects in which countries were funded from his Department's Magna Carta Fund to support freedom of religion and belief in 2016-17.

Answer (Mark Field)

Her Majesty's Government places great importance on defending and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief. The Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy is one of the tools we use to achieve this goal. In 2016-17 we funded the following projects that supported freedom of religion or belief:

  • Creating Advocates for Freedom of Religion or Belief in developing countries (including, India and Indonesia)
  • Defending Freedom of Religion or Belief in South And Central Asia (including in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan).
  • Upholding Freedom Of Expression and Promoting Stable Pluralistic Societies In the MENA region (including Egypt).
  • Promoting Social Stability and Security through Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia (Tajikistan & Turkmenistan)

Due to sensitivities, we are unable to disclose details of all our projects to support freedom of religion or belief.

14 Feb 2018, 3:29 p.m. Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what positive outcomes for freedom of religion or belief were achieved from Magna Carta Fund funding in 2016-17.

Answer (Mark Field)

There have been a number of positive outcomes for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) from projects supported through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy in financial year 2016-17. These include:

A project delivered by the Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) Hardwired Inc has promoted tolerance in secondary school curricula in 50 schools in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon. The Kurdish Regional Government has also asked for it to be shared with all children in their region.

The NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide is running a project to support human rights defenders in a number countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This project is raising awareness at the national, regional and international level of the unique challenges human rights defenders campaigning for FoRB face in South and Central Asia. The project is advocating for better protection for them by state authorities.

A project run by the Salzburg Global Seminar is increasing the capacity of institutions with educational missions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to combat extremism, prevent genocide and promote tolerance. There is particular emphasis on Rwanda, South Africa and Cambodia.

The Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy was also used to support projects to promote FoRB and tolerance in Burma, Tunisia, Egypt, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. These projects have strengthened civil society actors in those countries.

A project carried out by Cumberland Lodge has promoted greater understanding of FoRB issues and challenges amongst overseas students in the UK. This is sensitising them to these matters before their returning to their native countries where it is hoped they will act as informal advocates for human rights, including FoRB.

14 Feb 2018, 3:24 p.m. Diplomatic Service: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make Religious and Freedom of Religion or Belief Literacy training compulsory for diplomats serving in countries where violations are most prevalent.

Answer (Mark Field)

A specific course in Religion and Diplomacy is available to FCO staff designated to take up roles where an understanding of religion is key to their work. We will keep attendance at the course under review, but so far we do not see a need to make this training mandatory.

The FCO also runs seminars on specific themes. For example, Bishop Jonathan Goodall spoke to the FCO about Orthodox Christianity and foreign policy.

13 Feb 2018, 2:08 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to feed information gathered from roundtable meetings with civil society on freedom of religion or belief into its policy and programmes.

Answer (Mark Field)

The FCO minister of state with responsibilities for human rights, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has hosted two roundtables to date. The first, on 23 October, looked at Burma in the light of the Rohingya crisis. The second, on 12 December, examined the role of women in tackling religiously motivated violent extremism. These roundtables have been excellent opportunities to hear the perspectives and insights of faith leaders.

13 Feb 2018, 1:51 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to use information from Stabilisation Unit meetings on enhancing understanding of freedom of religion or belief to inform (a) Government programmes and (b) the work of UK overseas posts to improve the way in which patterns of religious persecution are tackled.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The Stabilisation Unit works with Government Departments to facilitate cross-government conflict assessments which seek to understand the key characteristics of conflicts. Freedom of religion or belief is considered as part of this framework where relevant. These assessments inform wider Government programming, policy making ,and posts are able to draw on them to inform their programme work.

13 Feb 2018, 1:48 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many and which HM Ambassadors and High Commissioners responded to the letters that his Department sent asking them to report on their work to advance freedom of religion or belief.

Answer (Mark Field)

​So far ten heads of mission have formally responded to the letters Lord Ahmad and I sent. We have received substantive replies from Embassies or High Commissions in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan.

13 Feb 2018, 1:47 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in what way his Department is using the responses from HM Ambassadors and High Commissioners to its correspondence on their work to advance freedom of religion or belief in order to inform his Department's work in that area.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The responses we recieved from Her Majesty's Ambassadors and High Commissioners to our letters of 27 October 2017 and 28 November 2017 set out the main current and planned activities of their respective Embassies and High Commissions in the defence and promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Officials will follow the progress of these activities and will evaluate outcomes in due course.

13 Feb 2018, 1:44 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the timetable is for the publication of the Government’s freedom of religion or belief strategy.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is developing a work-plan and has a "toolkit" which supports our work to promote and defend freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). The toolkit is published and can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/561516/Freedom_of_Religion_or_Belief_Toolkit_-_2016.pdf. The work-plan addresses activity at multilateral human rights fora and in our bilateral diplomatic engagement with other states, as well as project work. Because of the sensitivities of some of the material contained, it would not be appropriate to publish the work.

25 Jan 2018, 5:33 p.m. Palestinians: Children Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterparts on the detention of Palestinian children.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

The issue of children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. Our Embassy officials in Tel Aviv most recently raised the issue with the Israeli authorities on 16 January, and senior British Government officials raised this issue with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 8 January. I raised our concerns on this issue with the Israeli Government during my visit to Israel in August 2017