- European Commission has renewed the mandate of the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU
- Freedom of religion or belief under increasing threat around the world
BRUSSELS (9 July 2020) – The European Commission has announced that it will reappoint the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Following weeks of mixed communications on the topic, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas has now confirmed the position on Twitter.
“We are encouraged by the reappointment of the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. The current health crisis allows limitations on freedom of religion or belief to increase worldwide. The EU has done the right thing in showing renewed commitment to this fundamental human right. We urge the European Commission to strengthen the position of the Special Envoy and build on the important work already achieved. For the mandate to be most effective it should be multi-annual and with a possibility of renewal. With the support of permanent staff and sufficient resources, the Special Envoy should act as a guardian of the EU Guidelines on the promotion of freedom of religion or belief. The victims on the ground are in dire need for a decisive response from the EU. With its Special Envoy, the EU can lead in the international response, and that leadership is needed now more than ever,” said Adina Portaru, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Brussels.
Role of the Special Envoy
The Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU was introduced in 2016 in order to protect freedom of religion or belief on behalf of the EU worldwide. Part of the mandate included visits to countries with some of the most violent religious persecution in the world in order to help facilitate dialogue and response plans. The Special Envoy played a decisive role in helping Asia Bibi safely leave Pakistan after she was acquitted of blasphemy charges. There has been robust support for the continuation of the mandate, voiced by the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance, national special envoys, scholars, and civil society.