Human rights setbacks – FCO report

Foreign Secretary William Hague launches the FCO Human Rights Report

Human rights globally have been in decline over the past year, according to the FCO Human Rights Report 2013, which saw the list of ‘countries of concern’ increase.

Launching the report, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the past year had been “tumultuous” for human rights. While there were successes, he also highlighted the deteriorating situation in a number of countries.

The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic made it a new addition to the list, while Hague described the crises in Ukraine and South Sudan as “countries where the path to full democracy continues to be difficult”.

In the Middle East, the Foreign Secretary drew attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt, while he described the ongoing conflict in Syria as a “tragedy” in which a “regime that claims to be fighting terrorism is terrorising its own people”.

Specific issues were also highlighted in countries not on the watchlist, such as India, where concern was raised over the treatment of women and girls, or political violence in Bangladesh or freedom of expression in Rwanda.

The report drew an angry backlash from some countries highlighted in the report, particularly China, which cancelled a visit to London for a dialogue on human rights.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham also objected to the report, saying it was “biased”.