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Christianity 'most persecuted faith', says parliamentary report

Christians are suffering on a greater scale than other religious group, according to a study out today.

The report for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom was compiled by academics using testimonies from a range of human rights and faith-based groups.

One of the key recommendations calls on the British Government to consider the appointment of an anti-persecution Ambassador to highlight and co-ordinate the issue across Whitehall departments, including the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development.

Group chair Baroness Berridge tells Premier why she wants the UK to lead the way on curbing religious persecution across the globe:

The panel issued other recommendations including asking the Foreign Secretary to establish a sub-group of the Human Rights Advisory Group to focus on freedom of religion and belief.

They also want the Department for International Development (DFID) to ensure that where aid is provided or contracts awarded overseas that it's channelled to organisations and government programmes that demonstrate an understanding of freedom of religion or belief.

The report comes days after the European Union published new Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief, aimed at enabling the EU to have a systematic, co-ordinated approach to addressing violations of this right and preventing future incidents around the world.

Testimonies from a range of human rights and faith-based groups including Aid to the Church in Need were included in the International Religious Freedom report.

ACN's John Newton told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour why he would like to see the government act as soon as possible:

Anti-persecution charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide has also welcomed the report.

Its Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said:

"We welcome the Parliamentary Group's engagement with the issues affecting international religious freedom.

"We hope the government will engage fully with the recommendations in this report and seek to defend and promote the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of its wider human rights agenda."

The All-Party Parliamentary Group consists of members from the House of Commons and House of Lords representing the spread of political parties.

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