During an Urgent Question in the House of Commons this morning regarding arrests made under the Hong Kong security law, Fiona asked the following,
"Can the Minister tell the House what steps the Government are taking to protect freedom of religion or belief in the light of the arrest of Cardinal Zen, a senior leader of the Catholic Church in Asia?
Have there been any discussions with the Vatican about the arrest?
Does the Minister agree that the deteriorating state of freedom of religion or belief in Hong Kong must now be one of the concerns addressed at the UK-hosted ministerial conference on freedom of religion or belief in July?"
Responding on behalf of the Government, Mininster James Cleverly MP said,
"I thank my Honourable Friend for the work she does on this issue. She is famously passionate about it, and rightly so. She makes an incredibly valid point about this being a topic for the summer; it is inconceivable that it will not be a topic of discussion, although the agenda is not down to me.
The Sino-British joint declaration is a legally binding treaty under which China committed to uphold Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and to protect the freedoms and rights of its people. This explicitly includes freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, so my Honourable Friend is absolutely right to say that this goes to the core of the agreement.
We will call out China when it curtails those freedoms and, as I say, it is right that this should be brought up in international fora—both those centred on freedom of religion or belief and others."