Siobhain McDonagh Written Questions

8 Questions to Foreign and Commonwealth Office tabled by Siobhain McDonagh


Date Title Questioner
1 May 2019, 11:18 a.m. Sri Lanka: Religious Freedom Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help promote the right to freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Mark Field)

The UK is committed to supporting government and civil society efforts to improve human rights, including freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka. We fund a range of projects in support of this through £8.3 million of Conflict, Stability and Security Fund funding. This includes projects that promote interfaith dialogue and increase awareness; encourage greater public debate and advocacy on issues concerning Freedom of Religion or Belief in Sri Lanka; and that counter youth radicalisation in areas prone to inter-religious conflict. Tackling inter-communal tensions will continue to remain among our priorities this year.

1 May 2019, 11:16 a.m. Sri Lanka: Buddhism Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of impunity for Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The UK regularly raises human rights concerns with the Sri Lankan government, including the importance of religious tolerance and protecting the rights of all its citizens to practice their faith. We are aware of reports of Buddhist extremism and our High Commission in Colombo regularly meets with faith groups to understand this.

1 Nov 2018, 4:07 p.m. Thailand: Ahmadiyya Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Thai counterpart on the arrest of 113 Ahmadi Muslims in that country.

Answer (Mark Field)

We are following closely the recent detention in Thailand of approximately 100 people, mainly from Pakistan, whom the Thai authorities consider illegal immigrants. This follows arrests of Cambodian and Vietnamese nationals at the end of August. We understand approximately 200 people who claim refugee and asylum status are currently in immigration detention, and that some of these are registered with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We believe that the recent orders are not aimed at any specific group or groups but apply to anyone whom the Thai authorities deem an illegal visa over-stayer, as part of a general tightening of immigration enforcement. In September a senior official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office raised our concerns about the treatment of those in immigration detention with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our Embassy in Bangkok repeated the UK’s concerns on the matter with the Thai National Security Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister on 18 October. We are also working with the Thai authorities to improve conditions of detention.

26 Jan 2018, 1:06 p.m. Egypt: Religious Freedom Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his counterpart in the Egyptian Government on the arrest of 25 Ahmadi Muslims in Egypt on the grounds of their religion; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

I refer the Honourable Member for Mitcham and Morden to my answer to her earlier PQ on this matter (121319) on 15 January. We will continue to raise our concerns around the discrimination of religious minorities in Egypt. This includes concerns over the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Egypt. These rights are essential to improving the protection of Freedom of Religious Belief in Egypt.

25 Jan 2018, 5:37 p.m. Egypt: Religious Freedom Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the Egyptian Government on the arrest of 25 Ahmadi Muslims in that country on the grounds of their religion; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

​I refer the Honourable Member for Mitcham and Morden to my answer to her earlier PQ on this matter (121319) on 15 January. We will continue to raise our concerns around the discrimination of religious minorities in Egypt. This includes concerns over the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Egypt. These rights are essential to improving the protection of Freedom of Religious Belief in Egypt.

15 Jan 2018, 5:10 p.m. Egypt: Ahmadiyya Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has made representations to the Egyptian Government on the arrest of 25 Ahmadi Muslims in that country on the grounds of their religion; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

We condemn 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.

We regularly raise our concerns around the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, which are essential to improving the protection of Freedom of Religious Belief in Egypt.

21 Nov 2017, 5:28 p.m. Pakistan: Blasphemy Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports his Department has received on the case of three Ahmadi Muslims who were sentenced to death in early November 2017 by a court in Pakistan for allegedly breaking that country's blasphemy laws; and whether his Department has made representations to the Government of Pakistan on behalf of those three people.

Answer (Mark Field)

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 to renewing the previously imposed moratorium. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of religion or belief and the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Mr Johnson), raised religious tolerance and misuse of the blasphemy laws during his visit to Pakistan in November 2016. During my visit to Pakistan earlier this month I raised the death penalty and the treatment of religious minorities, including discrimination and violence against the Ahmadiyya community with Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights.

During the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan on 13 November in Geneva we expressed our concerns about human rights and limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Ahmadiyya Muslim and Christian communities. We called for a clear timeline for the review of legislation carrying the death penalty with the aim of limiting the scope of crimes to which it applies.

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

11 Sep 2017, 4:57 p.m. Algeria: Ahmadiyya Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterparts in Algeria on the arrest and detention of Ahmadi Muslims across Algeria since June 2016 on grounds of practising their faith.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

​We are aware of a number of reports of Ahmadiyya being arrested in Algeria. We have raised this with the Algerian government, who said that the arrests relate to breaches of laws which apply to all religions in Algeria. The Algerian constitution provides freedom of religion and we encourage them to make domestic law fully compatible with that. The promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief for all individuals internationally remains a high priority for the UK.