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UK: Dominic Raab 'sacrifices' human rights for trade deals

Trade is obviously important to all nations, but the Foreign Secretary shouldn’t be throwing human right defenders to the wolves like this’ – Kate Allen

Responding to an audio recording of the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling FCDO staff that if the UK “restricts [trade] to countries with ECHR-level standards of human rights, we’re not going to do many trade deals with the growth markets of the future”, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“These comments will send a chill down the spine of embattled human rights activists right across the globe.

“This apparent willingness to sacrifice human rights at the altar of trade is shocking, but sadly unsurprising. It fits a depressing pattern on human rights from this Government.

“Trade is obviously important to all nations, but the Foreign Secretary shouldn’t be throwing human right defenders to the wolves like this.

“So-called ‘growth markets’ - countries like India, Indonesia or Brazil - are often precisely places where human rights protections are fragile and under threat.

“And in some countries such as Myanmar, the army has control of economic activity which directly funds its military operations, including those implicated in human rights abuses.

“Once again, we’d urge Dominic Raab and other ministers to remember that any trade that arises from or contributes to human rights violations can never be truly sustainable. Companies will rightly worry about their obligations to avoid involvement in human rights abuse, investors will take fright and the whole edifice will come tumbling down.

“Rather than this false either-or over trade versus human rights, there needs to be a more intelligent policy that properly integrates them.

“Trade deals should be subject to proper human rights impact assessments before they’re entered to.

“Human rights experts ought to routinely accompany trade delegations, and all companies should be required to undertake proper human rights diligence as part of any overseas business venture.”

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