In September I attended the launch of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Magna Carta Partnerships programme, a new fund that seeks to promote legal expertise and the rule of law around the world. FCO Minister Baroness Anelay was joined by current and former diplomats for a panel discussion on how good governance and robust legal institutions can strengthen the rule of law, and in so doing, also protect human rights.
The British Government is regularly criticised for its apparent support for human rights abusing regimes such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. So during the Q&A session I was able to ask the Minister and other panellists why our Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and officials overseas do not make more public statements on behalf of political prisoners like Raif Badawi.
You can listen to the exchange via the player below and on SoundCloud. Or you can just read the transcript. Continue reading “Why doesn’t the FCO speak out on behalf of Raif Badawi? Minister and officials respond”
A few years agao, I blogged about the campaign to save the Iraqi translators who had worked for British troops in the country. Appallingly, the British Government refused to give them asylum, even though it was their work helping (perhaps, even keeping alive) British soldiers that had got them into trouble in the first place.
Via Aavaz, I learn that the British Government may now repeat this shameful episode in relation to translators working with British forces in Afghanistan. They want to give compensation, in lieu of asylum.
This really is not good enough. We have a duty to protect these people. Failure to do so would not only be a moral outrage – it would damage the reputation of British forces abroad and make it much harder to recruit local translators for future military operations.
Aavaz have a petition, which I have signed. Please do the same.
Why does the British Government drag its heels on these ethical no-brainers? I worry that it is down to the confused debate about immigration in this country. Asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and illegal immigrants are all very different types of migrant, but they are all spoken of as similarly illegitimate and unwelcome. We cannot allow an immature debate at home to hobble our soliders working abroad.