In a statement delivered to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) March 2, UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, urged the international community to consider what steps can be taken “to overcome the barriers, discrimination and persecution which restrict and prevent people from exercising their freedom of religion or belief.”
“Freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief must be defended,” she said, adding “we believe that working together is the best way to achieve real, positive impact in guaranteeing the rights of all faith or belief communities around the world.”
“In September last year, the Prime Minister appointed Rehman Chishti MP as his latest Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, demonstrating the UK’s ongoing commitment to this agenda,” said French.
“During the past nine months, we have been working to implement the recommendations from an independent, global review into Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians. The report, and its recommendations, are centered around improving the lives of all those persecuted because of their faith or belief. Twenty of the 22 recommendations apply to all faiths or beliefs.”
“…we believe that working together is the best way to achieve real, positive impact in guaranteeing the rights of all faith or belief communities around the world.”
The report French referred to is the UK’s interim report on Foreign & Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, released in May 2019 and carried out by the bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Truro in the Province of Canterbury. UK’s then-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked the bishop for “an independent, honest, unflinching and hard-hitting report” on the persecution of Christians internationally.
Describing the interim report as “a truly sobering read,” Hunt said “there is nothing more medieval than to hate someone on the basis of their faith. That it is on the rise should shock us all.”
“Freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief must be defended,” French told the UNHRC on behalf of her government, “and we believe that working together is the best way to achieve real, positive impact in guaranteeing the rights of all faith or belief communities around the world.”
Appointed in May 2019 as UK’s first International Ambassador for Human Rights, French is also UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.