Memorandum from Christian Solidarity Worldwide
1. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
is a human rights organisation with a special focus on religious
freedom. We work all over the world and seek to promote religious
liberty for all. We undertake campaigning and advocacy on behalf
of individuals and groups facing discrimination, imprisonment,
persecution and even death as a result of their faith or beliefs.
Information is presented to governments and multilateral organisations,
such as the United Nations, on a regular basis.
2. CSW would first like to commend the Government
on the publication of this latest report, which represents a significant
step in the process of placing human rights at the forefront of
our foreign policy. The publication grows in details and breadth
each year, which is also a commendable trend.
3. Naturally this report cannot be treated
in isolation from other such examples nor can it be taken in isolation
from the policy initiatives it highlights. On a positive note,
it must be said that few governments that we are aware of have
a similar such report. On a more cautionary note, it must also
be recognised that unless the report is as comprehensive as possible,
there is a danger that a false signal may be sent to governments
and other violators of human rights who are omitted from this
report. Thus one would have to make comparisons with reports,
such as the US State Department that deal country by country with
human rights abuses. Knowing the expertise available in the Foreign
Office, it is surely not long before a report of this nature is
4. CSW is pleased that the report covers
such a breadth of issues including the vital area of corporate
responsibility. Without addressing this area we are undoubtedly
sending mixed messages to regimes with whom HMG deals.
5. CSW is of the opinion that this Government
has been more open to NGO input than most of it predecessors.
This is reflected, in part, in this report and in the encouraging
number of forums which the FCO facilitates. However it must be
noted that there are occasions when desk officers in the FCO comment
that HMG representation is not possible or likely because UK nationals
are not involved. This is clearly the exception to the rule but
it is an unhelpful counter-current to the overall flow towards
prioritising human rights irrespective of nationality. Indeed,
it is our belief that we must focus our efforts on those who often
have no-one else to represent them.
6. Clearly positive steps are being made
in the training of staff and diplomats at the FCO in the arena
of human rights. Without more substantive details it is impossible
to comment, but we would be grateful for clarification of the
place given to training on religious freedom within this. As a
complex and increasingly relevant concern,
religion and religious freedom are areas that surely must be addressed.
NGOs such as CSW, and undoubtedly this is true for others, would
be pleased to assist or recommend experts to facilitate this.
7. On occasions CSW has been invited to
a briefing or round table discussion for a new or visiting British
Ambassador. This face-to-face dialogue has been most helpful.
Equally we have been pleased to provide briefings for key political
officers prior to their postings abroad. This is particularly
important when their posting is to a country where religious freedom
is a primary facet of human rights concerns. CSW would recommend
this as an example of positive practice that could be extended
by country and theme.
8. Clearly there a multitude of individual
country comments that CSW would be prepared to submit. These would
include briefings or evidence on religious freedom in Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Nigeria, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos, Turkmenistan,
Pakistan, Cuba and India. We would also be happy to comment on
the conflict in Moluccas (Indonesia) and Sudan, and on human rights
abuses in Peru and Burma. In terms of this report, CSW regrets
the omission of key human rights abuses, such as the horrific
prison camps in North Korea, and would contest some individual
9. In summary, CSW would welcome further
development of this report to include more countries, more in-depth
reports and a greater focus on the emerging area of violations
of religious freedom.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
30 November 2001
3 Especially given the current conflict in Afghanistan
and the events of September 11 2001. Back
An obvious example is the detail given on Egypt on p 112, which,
in our opinion, is inaccurate. In the given example CSW reports
that one Muslim and 21 Christians were killed whilst the report
states, "a number of Muslims and Christians were killed".
Whilst this might seem initially trivial it is an issue of reporting
that has caused untold problems in the region. Back