To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department is providing to Christians on death row on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan. (226724)
Tabled on: 27 February 2019
Answer - Mark Field:
It is the British Government's longstanding policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and in all countries. We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of the blasphemy laws and the treatment of minority religious communities, including Christians, in Pakistan.
We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. Most recently my colleague Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, discussed the treatment of minority communities with Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during his visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February. At the UN Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan in November 2017, the UK pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities and to explain the steps being taken to tackle the abuse of the blasphemy laws.
To ensure the United Kingdom is supporting Christians in the best possible way, the Foreign Secretary has commissioned an independent, global review of the support provided to Christians overseas. The Review will consider what additional practical steps the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can take to support persecuted Christians. It will be led by the Bishop of Truro, Rt Revd. Philip Mounstephen, and will make an initial report around Easter.