FCO human rights watch list still long

Foreign Secretary Willian Hague
launches the Human Rights Report

The Foreign Office has released its Human Rights report, citing “positive developments” on human rights and democracy in the post-Arab Spring Middle East, despite the tragic situation in Syria.

The report said “terrible atrocities” continued in Syria, where , according to United Nations estimates, some 70,000 people have died since 2011 and 1.3 million have fled the country.

Speaking at the launch of the report UK Foreign Secretary William Hague laid the blame for escalating violence on the shoulders of the Assad regime and said there could be “no impunity” for those committing human rights abuses in Syria.

“The UK has been at the forefront of the work of the UN Human Rights Council on Syria and… we are working to ensure that all perpetrators will be held accountable,” said the Foreign Secretary.

In April the UK sent a team to the region to gather evidence and provide training to Syrian activists to document human rights violations. “This will provide a basis of information that can be used for future accountability processes,” he said.

Overall 27 countries remain on the list, one fewer than last year. The Foreign Office has removed Chad from its watch list and elsewhere in the Middle East, the report said progress had been made in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Jordan.

However a number countries from the region remained on the list such as Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

While progess continues to be made in the Horn of Africa, countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan still have human rights abuses, as does DRC in central Africa, and, despite the improving situation in Zimbabwe, it remains listed.

States in Central and South Asia continue to cause concern, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Despite improvements, human rights worries remain in China and Burma, while in North Korea the situation is worsening.

Meanwhile Europe, Latin America and the Pacific there were comparatively fewer concerns. Russia and Belarus were the only countries in Europe named, while Cuba and Colombia were still a concern in Latin America. Fiji’s failure to hold democratic elections means it is still on the list.

Also included in the report were case studies of countries with specific human rights issues. These include places such as Bangladesh, due to its electoral violence; India, which has a history of violence against women and girls; or Nigeria, which has cracked down very hard on the threat of Islamist terrorist groups.