The Sunday Telegraph

Freedom of religion


SIR – As persons with experience of internatio­nal human rights protection over the past two decades, we welcome the commitment of greater diplomatic efforts in the human rights field – in this instance religious persecutio­n.

Political responses to such violations fall well short of the scale of the global problem; and the determinat­ion of the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt – who has commission­ed a review into the persecutio­n of Christians – to draw attention to this is timely.

Our observatio­n is that couching this review even more broadly, and in the context of persecutio­n against those of all religions and beliefs (including those of no religion), will greatly enhance its effectiven­ess internatio­nally.

Seeking to protect some from persecutio­n necessaril­y requires seeking to protect all from persecutio­n. Upholding full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief (which includes the freedom of worship) would enhance its enjoyment by all, whether believer, non-believer or ambivalent.

Britain can rightly draw attention to the inclusive nature of its diplomacy in advancing this freedom over many years. This is an opportunit­y for redoubling and reinforcin­g these efforts in the light of increasing­ly abhorrent violations.

Ahmed Shaheed UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Nazila Ghanea

Associate Professor of Internatio­nal Human Rights Law University of Oxford Sir Malcolm

Evans Professor of Internatio­nal Law Bristol University

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