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CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON THE TREATMENT OF PAKISTAN'S CHRISTIANS AND OTHER MINORITIES - NOVEMBER HEARINGS AT WESTMINSTER

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Rev Tim Eady of Christchurch Bangkok, praying for Lord Alton and the BPCA report to help change the lives of persecuted Pak-Christians.

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In a Parliamentary Reply (see below) Lord (Michael) Bates, Minister of State at the Home Office, has promised to make a full assessment of the evidence of persecution of Pakistani Christians and, if appropriate, reconsider Home Office Guidelines. In addition, in November, the All Party Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief has announced that it will hold two days of hearings at Westminster. They have issued a call for witnesses and evidence (see below).


Lord Bates, the Home Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2312):

Question:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the report commissioned by the British Pakistan Christian Association, entitled Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal Involving UNHRC and Asylum Seekers in Thailand; and whether, in the light of this report, they plan to review the risk of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and update their guidance document Pakistan: Christians and Christian Converts. (HL2312)
Tabled on: 17 September 2015

Answer:
Lord Bates:
The Home Office will be considering the report commissioned by the British Pakistani Christian Association alongside a range of other material to make a full assessment of the situation of Christians in Pakistan, and will revise its country information and guidance if necessary.
The Home Office considers that the treatment of asylum seekers in Thailand is primarily a matter for the Thai authorities.
Date and time of answer: 05 Oct 2015 at 17:26.

CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON THE TREATMENT OF PAKISTAN'S CHRISTIANS AND OTHER MINORITIES - NOVEMBER HEARINGS AT WESTMINSTER

All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief

Parliamentary Inquiry: Call for Evidence

‘The Plight of Minority Religious or Belief Groups in Pakistan and as Refugees: Addressing Current UK & UNHCR Policy’

Pakistan represents one of the worst situations for minority religious or belief groups around the world and is rife with persecution on the grounds of religion or belief by both state and non-state actors. With the current policies and laws that Pakistani officials are advancing at both international and domestic levels, including the notorious blasphemy laws, the right of Pakistan’s citizens to freedom of religion or belief is looking unlikely to be upheld and protected in the near future. In addition to these concerns, the UK Home Office and UNHCR, has, via using A UK Supreme Court Upper Tier case, determined that at least one Pakistani religious minority’s treatment is not severe enough to grant these individuals refugee status.


While freedom of religion or belief is a protected right under international law and is a clear basis for asylum in the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as the UK’s current vulnerability scheme project, there remain debates in the UK and further afield as to whether all Pakistani minority religious or belief communities’ treatment in Pakistan or abroad ‘amounts to a real risk of persecution’. 

 
In order to be able to look at the current UK and UNHCR policy regarding minority Pakistani religious or belief groups and its validity, the current conditions for such groups living in Pakistan and as refugees will need to be understood. The APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief is currently calling for submissions from charities, experts, faith-communities and individuals with personal experiences on their concerns, and suggestions on:

What circumstances minority religious or belief groups living in Pakistan currently face; both vis-à-vis State and non-State actors

What circumstances minority religious or belief groups having left Pakistan as asylum seekers currently face

What the current UK and UNHCR policy regarding each minority Pakistani religious or belief community is, whether changes to current policy is required and if so, how this ought to be done


We particularly welcome testimonies from individuals who have recently sought asylum in UK on the grounds of persecution for their faith or belief.


Each submission should be no longer than 3 pages, and clearly indicate the organisation and/or author of the statement. The submissions will contribute to a new report written by the APPG on the subject. The APPG can withhold the identities of authors of statements in the report, if a request for anonymity is clearly made in the submission.


Written submissions may result in individuals or organisations being invited to give oral testimonies at a formal hearing in the Houses of Parliament before selected parliamentarians on 10th November (9:00 – 10:30) and 11th November (10:00 – 12:00) in Portcullis House, Room R. The APPG holds the right to use or not to use submissions in its reporting.

Submissions should be sent to katharinee.thane@parliament.uk . The deadline for submissions is 5pm, 3rd November 2015 

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