Hague speech: 'Realism' musn't mean keeping quiet on rights

Responding to William Hague’s speech today on foreign policy and human rights, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We welcome William Hague’s commitment to improve and strengthen the UK’s human rights work, and to document human rights abuses on an annual basis.

“It was reassuring, for example, to hear the Foreign Secretary expressing support for an international Arms treaty which could help prevent weapons ending up in the hands of human rights abusers.

“We also look forward to hearing about how the advisory group will work and here the devil will be in the detail. Will it have real influence over government policy and ministerial decisions?

“There are also areas of concern. Mr Hague’s defence of the policy of seeking diplomatic ‘assurances’ of safe treatment in the deportation of terrorist suspects is misguided. Assurances against torture from governments that routinely practise such abuse simply cannot be trusted.

“Generally the Foreign Secretary talks a good game on human rights but we’re only going to know through his actions whether we’re set to have a foreign policy ‘with a conscience’.

“It would be a serious problem, for example, if Mr Hague’s ‘realism’ meant keeping quiet about human rights where it might damage trade or upset powerful allies.”

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