A Christian charity has called on Commonwealth leaders to put freedom of religion “at the heart” of major meetings this week.
Open Doors urged those attending the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to take decisions which will protect citizens around the world.
The meeting, called ‘Towards a common future’, started in London yesterday and will run until Friday.
‘Fundamental human right’
Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy at Open Doors UK, described freedom of religion as a “fundamental human right”.
She said: “The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be unable to realise its agenda of securing a common future without explicitly including the right to freedom of religion or belief in its plans.
“We urge leaders of the Commonwealth to ensure that this fundamental human right is placed at the heart of discussions in London and that decisive measures are taken to ensure it is protected across all Commonwealth countries.”
The 2018 World Watch List from Open Doors, which monitors countries where religious persecution is at its worst, includes eight of the 53 Commonwealth countries.
It reported that in India, Christians are “facing rising levels of persecution”.
Believers are also facing ongoing difficulties in Nigeria, Malaysia and Kenya.
And in Brunei, converting from Islam is illegal, with people forced to recant by security services.