Independent Review of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians interim report

In response to the interim report on Foreign & Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

I asked the Bishop of Truro to deliver an independent, honest, unflinching and hard-hitting report. What he has delivered to me today makes for a truly sobering read. I thank him and his team for their hard work.

The interim report comes just after the appalling attacks at Easter on churches across Sri Lanka, the devastating attack on two mosques in Christchurch, and most recently the San Diego synagogue shooting.

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.

I look forward to seeing the Bishop’s final report in the summer, and identifying further specific steps the FCO can take to do more to address the fate of persecuted Christians around the world.

The introduction of the report:
On Boxing Day 2018 The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, HM Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, announced that he had asked me to set up an Independent Review into the global persecution of Christians; to map the extent and nature of the phenomenon; to assess the quality of the response of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and to make recommendations for changes in both policy and practice.

Initially, the aim was to conclude the Review by Easter 2019. However it rapidly became apparent that the scale and nature of the phenomenon simply required more time. Thus it was agreed that an Interim Report focusing on the scale and nature of the problem would be produced by the end of April 2019, with a final report to be delivered by the end of June. This present work is that Interim Report.

After an ‘Overview’ section, which paints a grim global picture, the Report then drills down into analysis of a number of different regions. Detailed analysis of the crisis Christians are facing in particular ‘Focus Countries’ will be added incrementally to the Independent Review’s Website over the next two months with case studies that will be used to review the FCO response. It concludes by drawing some general conclusions that will inform the second phase. It is on the basis of these conclusions and our engagement with all levels of the FCO that the Independent Review will then make its recommendations for policy and practice.

The independence and thus the credibility of the Review has always been of paramount importance to me. Therefore the make-up of the team working on this project has been a careful balance of FCO staff, secondees from key NGOs and independent members. I want to record my personal thanks to (amongst others) Tom Woodroffe, Julian Mansfield, Margaret Galy and Jaye Ho from the FCO. I am grateful too for expert input from Open Doors, Aid to the Church in Need, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Finally, my grateful thanks go to independent members, David Fieldsend, Charles Hoare and Rachael Varney to whose hard work and dedication I am indebted.

Even while this Interim Report was in its final stages the news was coming in of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that reaped a horrific death toll in attacks in which Christians were a prime target. The sad fact is that this report will be out of date even by the time that it is published. And such is the sheer scale of the problem that whilst we have ranged widely in our analysis we make no claim to be wholly comprehensive. Originally we planned to focus on four regions however NGO colleagues then suggested two more. But the picture remains incomplete. In particular we have not analysed the situation in Europe and Eurasia. But our not doing so should not be taken to imply there is no issue to be addressed in this region. Far from it.

The Independent Review was announced at Christmas and this Interim Report is published in the Easter season. Both of these great festivals remind us that weakness and vulnerability are at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was born into poverty and laid in a feeding-trough. He died as a victim of persecution himself. Given that, it is hardly surprising that many of his followers today count among the weakest and most vulnerable people on the planet. It is to them, to their needs and to their support, that this Interim Report is dedicated.

read the report here