Under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. I am aware of the Reports to which the Deputy refers. I very strongly condemn any violent attacks faced by the Christian community in India and all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where it occurs, or who the victims are.
My Department has received a number of reports from NGOs and other organisations which set out the details of several violent incidents targeting Christian communities in India. A suitable opportunity to raise such concerns is in the context of the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue, in which the EU and India exchange views on a broad range of human rights concerns. A date for the next dialogue is currently being sought by the EU.
Freedom of religious expression is a cornerstone of any functioning democracy, and those rights must be guaranteed. Acts of violence and discrimination based on religion or belief, committed in the name of religion or national security, whether by individuals, by groups or by states, must be challenged.
The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy. Ireland works closely with human rights defenders to protect them and the work they do and to promote the value of civil society space.
Officials from my Department, including in the Embassy in New Delhi, will continue to monitor the human rights situation in India, in close cooperation with the EU.