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Human Rights and Religious Freedom

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20 August 2014: Church of England and its partners to observe Kandhamal Day
The Church of England and its Ecumenical partners will be observing Kandhamal Day on 25 August to mark the sixth year anniversary of communal violence in Kandhamal in Orissa State of India. The Kandhamal communal violence claimed an estimated 100 lives, displacing around 56,000 people and saw the destruction of 295 churches and worship places.


24 July 2014: Religious freedom - the canary in the mine
On 24th July 2014, Crossbench Peer Lord Alton of Liverpool led a short debate in the House of Lords to take note of international compliance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning freedom of belief. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke in the debate. He spoke of the role of religious freedom as a marker for other freedoms, and the positive role religious freedom can play in strengthening democracy and countering radicalisation and terrorism. He also spoke of the responsibility held by religious institutions to speak together on the importance of religious freedom for all, and to model these freedoms themselves.


23 July 2014: Uganda and LBGT
On 23rd July 2014, Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take over the abuse of the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda as a result of the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act there. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a supplementary question as to whether the Government intend to provide asylum to those who are fleeing the worrying consequences of this law which enshrines such diminishment.


11 June 2014: Bishop of Coventry responds to Queen's Speech 
On 11th June 2014 in the ninth and final contribution to the debate on the Queen's Speech from the Lords Spiritual, the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, spoke on foreign affairs. He focused on sexual violence and those suffering persecution for their religious beliefs. The Bishop commended the Government for its efforts to combat sexual violence, but questioned the Government's focus on the OIC-led defamation of religion initiative. He also pressed the Government to help resolve the problem of political factionalism within the Syrian opposition.


10 June: Bishop recieves response to written questions on religious freedom
On 10th June 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, received a response to  three written questions on religious freedom


5 February 2014 Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to HEAL Africa in Goma
The Archbishop Justin Welby has described HEAL Africa as 'a wonderful example' of an Anglican-supported hospital providing holistic care for victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


4 February 2014: Islamophobia in Georgia
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield has addressed a question to Her Majesty's Government about Islamophobia in Georgia. During the debate, the Bishop has also sought reassurance that Georgia will fulfil Mr Archil Kabadze's promise to find more land for Muslims in the community, in order to avoid their radicalisation.  


3 February 2014: Prevention of Gender based Violence
The Bishop of Wakefield has questioned what is being done to protect women against violence, particularly gender based violence, in a debate surrounding the recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


17 October 2013: Implementing the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion
The Bishop of Derby received a written response to a parliamentary question on the steps the government is taking to implement the recently agreed EU guidelines on freedom of religion and belief 


22 July 2013 - EU & Freedom of Religion
The Bishop of Derby received a written response fro Baroness Warsi to his question tabled in the House of Lords asking HMG for its assessment of the new guidelines on freedom of religion or belief agreed by the European Council.


16 July 2013 - Human Trafficking
The Bishop of Derby received a written response to his question on the financial support offered to the victims of human trafficking. HMG's response flagged up the pivotal role played by the Salvation Army in this area.  


28 June 2013 - EU Guidelines on Religious Freedom
Earlier in the week the EU Council published its long awaited Guidelines on Human Rights and Religious Freedom that are intended to assist the EU's missions overseas. In a PR on Friday, 28 June, the Bishop of Derby welcomed these guidelines but warned that these guidelines were too important to be allowed to gather dust on the shelves of officials and that measures were needed to monitor their use.


10 June 2013: Religious Freedom in Egypt
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds asked a supplementary question in the House of Lords on Monday, 10 June, inquiring as to the extent to which HMG was able to exercise its influence to ensure that blasphemy laws were not used to obstruct an individual's right to change his or her religion. 


Archbishop of Congo meets Foreign Secretary
On Tuesday, 19 March, the Archbishop of Congo, the Most Rev Henri Isingoma met with the Foreign Secretary. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Foreign Secretary to learn more about the role of the Church in DRC and the steps the Church is taking to speak out against sexual violence. The rationale for the meeting was the Foreign Secretary's forthcoming visit to DRC and the April's G8 Foreign Minister's meeting in London which will focus on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI).


26 February 2013 - Tibet
The Archbishop of York made a powerful intervention in the House of Lords yesterday urging China to see the Dalai Lama as first and foremost as a religious rather than a political leader. Click here to find out more


25 February 2015 - Georgia's Human Rights Record
The Bishop of Wakefield received today written responses to his questions raising concerns about Georgia's human right records. Click here to see the full Parliamentary exchange. The questions were tabled following a visit by the Bishop to Georgia in January 2013.


22 January 2013 - Freedom of Religion and Conscience
The House of Lords today debated a question for short debate tabled by the Lord Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hil. The debate focused on HMG's freedom of religion stratgey. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, also contributed to the debate. To read the debate in full click here.


9 January 2013 - Homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds today pressed HMG on whether it will consult with Lambeth Palace on the issue of homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda since Lambeth Palace  has considerable experience of relating to these two countries in particular, and of challenging their human rights records?


27 November 2012 - Religious Freedom and Interfaith Relations
The Bishop of Guildford today received a written answer to his written question on whether HMG was drawing sufficiently on the UK's comparative advantage in interfaith relations when devising its strategy on religious freedom. Click here to read the full exchange.


21 November 2012 - Bishop presses government on its religious freedom strategy
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford, today received a written response to his question asking the government whether it would publish a strategy on religious freedom. Click here to read the full exchange.


21 November 2012 - Bishop expresses concern at Rwanda's poor human rights record
The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price, today asked a supplementary question in the House of Lords raising concerns at the shrinking democratic space in Rwanda. Click here to read the exchange in full.


20 November 2012 - Bishop raises questions about the effectiveness of HMG's freedom of religion toolkit
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill today received three written responses to questions he had tabled regarding the effectiveness of the government's freedom of religion toolkit and the steps it was taking to contribute to developing a EU freedom of religion toolkit.  Click here to read the exchange in ful.


25 October 2012 - Treatment of Homosexual men and women in the developing world
The Bishop of Leicester spoke in the a House of Lords on the treatment of homosexual men and women in the developing world. The Bishop argued that discriminatory interference in the private sexual conduct of consenting adults was "an affront to the fundamental Christian values of human dignity, tolerance and equality."


17 October 2012 - Church submission to Parliamentary inquiry into FCO's human rights work in 2011
In March 2012 the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council made a written submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's human rights work in 2011. This submission can be read here. The Committee's final report can be read here.   


16 October 2012 - Archbishop's 'shock and sadness' at the violent attack on Malala Yousafzai
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed his shock and sadness at the violent attack on Malala Yousafzai and two other school girls in Pakistan. Click here to read the full statement.


22 May 2012 - Violence against Christians in Sudan
In response to a written question tabled the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Government suggested that while they had no evidence that there is a state orchestrated campaign against Christians, the recent rhetoric by government leaders on the north-south conflict has led to tension between communities and fear of attacks against South Sudanese in Sudan, many of whom are Christians. To read the full exchange click here.


15 May 2012 - Religious Freedom in Pakistan
The Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Lord Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question during debate on Lord Ahmed's question about the Pakistani Prime Minister's visit to the UK. Bishop Stephen asked if the Prime Minister had received assurances and commitments from the Prime Minister of Pakistan regarding protection for religious minorities in Pakistan. The exchange can be read here.


20 April - HMG responds to Church's concern about Israel's discrimination of its Arab citizens
The Government today replied to a series of written questions tabled by the Lord Bishop of Exeter in the House of Lords before the Easter recess on Israel's treatment of its Arab citizens. The full list of questions and responses can be read here.


2 April 2012 - The EU should set the standard on Religious Freedom
In a seminar (30 March 2012) involving the Conference of European Churches' Church and Society Commission and the European Commission, representatives of the European Churches pressed the EU to more actively monitor violations of freedom of religion both within the EU and throughout the world. The Church of England was a participant in this seminar. To read more about this seminar and its results please click here.   


28 March 2012 - Protecting the Rights of Israel's Arab Citizens
The Bishop of Exeter today tabled a motion for debate  in the House of Lords drawing attention to the institutionalised discrimination experienced by Israel's Arab citizens. 


28 March 2012 - USPG launches appeal for Anglican Church in Zimbabwe
The Anglican mission agency USPG today launched an appeal in support of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe as its faces ongoing harrassment and intimidation from state authourities.


14 March 2012 - If good men do nothing evil will prevail
The Archbishop of York joined a human rights activist Ben Freeth from Zimbabwe and Pastor Paul Negrut from Romania to deliver The Royal Geographical Society Lecture on 'Fighting Justice Under Dictatorship'. The three men told their inspirational stories, and gave an insight into living under dictatorships.  The Archbishop's comments can be read here.


28 Feb 2012 - Human Rights and Religous Faith
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights has made a profound impact in fighting injustice and is "a landmark in the history of moral consciousness", says the Archbishop of Canterbury in a lecture on Human Rights and Religious Faith at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. The Archbishop's lecture can be read here


8 February 2012 - Church's General Synod shows solidarity with Christian in Nigeria
Against a backdrop of growing violence in Nigeria, the Church of England's General Synod passed a motion requesting the British Government to do all it can to support those in Nigeria seeking to protect religious minorities of all faiths.  The debate was informed by a report from the Bishop of Durham reflecting on a recent visit to the country. 


30 January 2012 - Pakistan and Religious Freedom
The Rt Revd Graham James Lord Bishop of Norwich asked a supplementary question during Lord Ahmed's question regarding the democratic process in Pakistan. The Bishop asked the Minister what the government was doing to support minorities to play a full part in the democratic process.


9 December 2011 - Archbishop leads House of Lords debate on Christians in the Middle East
The Archbishop of Canterbury introduced and closed an almost 5-hour debate in the House of Lords on the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Lord Wood of Anfield and Lord Howell of Guildford concluded the debate on behalf of the Opposition and the Government.


29 November 2011 - The Bishop of Exeter on the Arab Spring and Religious Minorities
In a supplementary oral question in Parliament the Bishop of Exeter pressed the Government on what measures it was taking to advance human development in the region. 


16 November 2011- New Church Briefing Paper on the situation of Christians in the Middle East
The Church has prepared the following briefing paper exploring and reflecting on the implications of the Arab Spring on the situation of Christians in the Middle East. The briefing paper has been produced ahead of a House of Lords debate (9 December 2011) sponsored by the Arcbishop of Canterbury that calls attention to the situation of Christians in the Middle East.   


18 October 2011 - Archbishop of Canterbury speaks out on the situation in Egypt.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, today asked a supplementary question in the House of Lords about the situation of Christians in Egypt and subsequently released the following statement.


11 October 2011 - Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioners, responds to MPs concern regarding Coptic Christians in Egypt.
In response to growing Parliamentary concern as to the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt, Tony Baldry, MP, set out how the Church was responding on the ground. 


4 October 2011 - The Bishop of Wakefield raises concern regarding religious freedom in Iran
The Rt Revd Stephen Platten Lord Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question to Baroness Stern's question regarding the new FCO strategy document 'Abolition of the Death Penalty'. Bishop Stephen asked his question specifically with regard to Government policy towards Iran especially after the most recent case of Youcef Nadarkhani.


14 September 2011 - The Foreign Secretary Responds to Foreign Affairs Committee's Report on Human Rights
The Foreign Secretary's response to a Parliamentary inquiry that the Church submitted written evidence to can be read here.


13 September 2011 - Bishop raises concerns regarding the protection of minorities in Libya
The Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, the Lord Bishop of Hereford, asked a supplementary question during Lord Hoyle's question about Libya. Bishop Anthony asked what conversations the Government were having in regard to religious minorities in the country.


5 September 2011 - 2nd Estates Commissioner expresses concerns on restricted access to Jerusalem's Holy Sites.
Tony Baldry, MP, the Church's 2nd Estate Commissioner pressed the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the Government's policy on the status of Jerusalem as a holy city for all faiths.


5 September 2011 - 2nd Estates Commissioner and the Wilton Park Conference on Human Rights
Tony Baldry, MP, the Church's 2nd Estate Commissioner asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the conclusions were of the recent Wilton Park conference on religious freedoms across the world.


20 July 2011 - Parliamentary inquiry endorses Church's view on human rights
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee published its report on the FCO's 2011 Human Rights Report on 20 July. The Committee's report referred extensively to the submission made by the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council. 


18 July 2011 - Archbishop of Canterbuy hosts a two day internatioal conference on Cristians in the Holy Land
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, launched an Appeal at General Synod's July 2011 Group of Sessions, for funds to help sustain Christian communities in the Holy Land. This appeal was followed by a two day international conference on Christians in the Holy Land that was organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. 


14 July 2011 - Archbishop of Canterbury expresses anxiety for Christians in the Middle East
During an interview on BBC Radio 4's World at One (14 July 2011), the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his deep anxiety for Christians in the Middle East, but also cautious optimism about possible outcomes of the Arab Spring.


5 July 2011 - Wilton Park Report on Religious Freedom
With religious communities under threat of discrimination and violence in many parts of the world, this conference organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the EU, identified how the international community can strengthen its ability to protect religious freedom. It built new partnerships between governments, NGOs and faith groups to help the exchange of good practice and to develop practical proposals to support those wishing to exercise their right to peaceful worship. The resulting conference report can be read here.


23 June 2011 - Bishop of Exeter raises concerns regarding Coptic Christians in Egypt
The Bishop of Exeter, asked a supplementary question (23 June) during Baroness Cox's question on Coptic Christians in Egypt. Bishop Michael asked the Minister what advice the Foreign Secretary had received from the FCO human rights panel and how the Government planned to respond.


22 June 2011 - Bishop of Chichester presses Government about Turkey accession
Bishop of Chichester, asked a supplementary question on (22 June) during Lord Sharkey's question about the accession of Turkey to the EU. Bishop John asked the Minister if the accession process might provide an opportunity to increase pressure on Turkey in relation to its treatment of the Syriac Orthodox community.


4 April 2011 - Government responds to Bishops question on its human rights budget
The Rt Revd Michael Langrish Lord Bishop of Exeter received a reply to his written question about overseas aid 0n 4 April. The Minister responded to the Bishop's question about the Foreign Office spending on the monitoring of religious freedoms overseas to say that no figures were kept for 2010-11 and that in 2011-12 the FCO has a £5 million fund dedicated supporting to human rights projects and democracy, allocations for spending the £5 million have not been made yet.


1 April 2011  - Bishop warns of vulnerability of religious minorities in Egypt
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds stresses (1 April 2011) the need for Egypt's religious minorities to be protected during the country's transition to democracy


7 March 2011 - Archbishop of Canterbury responds to murder of Shazbaz Bhatti
The Archbishop of Canterbury's article in The Times following the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti.


18 January 2011 - Bishop of Wakefield expresses concern about attacks on Copts in Egypt
The Bishop of Wakefield raises concerns regarding recent attacks against the Coptic Church in Egypt.


8 January 2011 - Second Church Estates Commissioner responds to MPs concerns on religious persecution
The Second Church Estates Commissioner answers questions concerining the Church's support of Christians in Pakistan  and Sudan.

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