Appointment Frank Schwabe has been appointed new Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Press release 5 January 2022 | BERLIN – Frank Schwabe, Member of the German Parliament (Bundestag), has been appointed as the new Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Federal Cabinet today confirmed his appointment on proposal from German Development Minister Svenja Schulze.

Frank Schwabe, Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Frank Schwabe, Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Frank Schwabe, Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Schwabe has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2005 and in this role has been dealing with the topic of global human rights for many years. Schwabe, aged 51 and a Protestant, succeeds Markus Grübel, who had held this post in the previous electoral term since 2018.

Frank Schwabe said: “As the new Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief I will do everything I can to protect this freedom and campaign for clear responses to any violations of this human right. For many people, following a religion or belief is an integral part of their identity, and something that brings people together, across national borders. But we are confronted, again and again, with a frightening renaissance of restrictions on the freedom of conscience and belief. We must not allow this to happen. All peaceful religious actors and groups must be able to freely practise their faith. I am determined to make this a reality.

“Worldwide, religion and belief give many people strength and orientation. But, above all, freedom of religion or belief is a central human right that is closely interlinked with various other human rights. These rights are interdependent. Where one of these rights is missing, others are often missing too. The right to freedom of religion or belief is also closely connected with many questions and challenges that development cooperation is faced with. But what often seems to be a matter of course for us is under severe threat on a global scale. And this is not about the right of religious leaders who want to impose a certain religion. As I see it, my office is not about working in the interest of authorities. It is always about the human rights of individuals: people’s right to follow a religion or belief that is important to them and to practise it freely and without fear of repressive measures. Every individual must also have the right to convert to another religion or to choose to follow no religion.

“Members of virtually all religious communities are affected by repressive measures worldwide. Large numbers of Christians are affected, but they are by far not the only ones. Muslims, Jews and members of religious minorities, too, are suffering from discrimination, exclusion or even severe persecution. A monitoring system needs to be set up that looks at the global picture so as to give a voice to those who have become victims of discrimination and persecution because of their religion or belief.”           

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze said: “Freedom of religion or belief is an essential human right. The right to freedom of religion not only includes the freedom to choose one's religion or belief but also the freedom not to belong to a religion. This human right of freedom of religion or belief is increasingly being restricted worldwide, which is a cause for concern.”

As part of the German government’s international efforts to promote global freedom of religion or belief, Minister Schulze and Frank Schwabe will be working closely with Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the new Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, Member of Parliament Luise Amtsberg. The Commissioner for Freedom of Religion or Belief is responsible, among other things, for engaging in a dialogue at the international level on freedom of religion or belief and for drafting the biennial Federal Government’s Report on the Global Status of Freedom of Religion.