The Sunday Telegraph

Free­dom of re­li­gion

- Religion · Society · Discrimination · Politics · Human Rights · Jeremy Hunt · Iceland · Belarus · United Kingdom · United Nations · Oxford University · University of Oxford · Oxford · Bristol University · Bristol · Ahmed Shaheed

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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