The European Commission has appointed a Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU after the position was left vacant for two years.
Christos Stylianides, a special advisor on education in emergencies, migration and inclusion to the Vice-President of the EU, will take up the role. He worked as the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management for five years until 2019.
The Special Envoy role was introduced in 2016 in order to protect freedom of religion or belief on behalf of the EU worldwide after the mass murder of religious minorities by Isis/Daesh. The Special Envoy also helped the Christian, Asia Bibi, safely leave Pakistan after being acquitted of blasphemy charges.
Adina Portaru, Senior Counsel for ADF International in Brussels, says it is a vital position: “Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. The reappointment of a Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU is an important step in showing real commitment to this fundamental right.
"We lament that this position has been vacant for almost two years. We hope that the new Special Envoy will quickly get to work focusing on the needs of the most persecuted worldwide. The victims on the ground are in dire need of a decisive response from the EU. With its Special Envoy, the EU can lead in the international response. That leadership is needed now more than ever.”