The UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) has called on the European Commission to extend its support for religious freedom outside the European Union.
Dr. Ján Figel was appointed the European Commission’s first Special Envoy for the promotion of FoRB after the passing of a resolution in February 2016. However, Dr. Figel’s mandate has now expired, sparking calls from the British group for it to be renewed in a bid to ensure that religious freedom stays high on the agenda of governments across the world.
In a statement, the All-Party Parliamentary Group highlighted the vital importance of Figel's role in advocating for religious freedoms and human rights outside the EU: "The unique position of the EU Special Envoy has enabled him to be viewed as a neutral broker by many countries," they wrote. "This fact has been instrumental in helping to foster dialogue and make effective interventions. For example, in assisting with the release of Asia Bibi, who spent years on death row in Pakistan due to an unfounded blasphemy allegation. Czech national Petr Jašek, who was jailed alongside two Sudanese pastors and a FoRB activist, also acknowledged Dr Figel’s important role in securing his freedom."
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief works to "raise awareness and profile of international Freedom of Religion or Belief (Article 18, UDHR) as a human right among UK parliamentarians, the media, government and the general public."
The group also seeks to "increase the effectiveness of the UK's contribution to international institutions charged with enforcing this human right."