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UK: 'Historic opportunity' on human rights must not be turned into a party political football

Amnesty International UK today issued a stark warning to British parliamentarians to avoid playing party politics with an historic opportunity to improve human rights across the globe.

Fears have been growing that the various factions within Parliament may use a vote in the House of Commons on creating a new European Union Special Representative on Human Rights to score cheap political points.

At the end of last month, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council adopted a new Strategic Framework and Action Plan on human rights and democracy and agreed to create the new position.

The role would be pivotal in representing human rights concerns across the globe, including such issues as the abolition of the death penalty, eradicating torture, Children's rights’s rights, violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression.

The framework, plan and new role need to be approved by all 27 members of the EU and, while 26 agreed to it straight away, the UK Government insisted that it should come back to Parliament for proper scrutiny. 

On Thursday 12 July, a government motion in support of the adoption of all three elements will be debated and voted on. Amnesty International is concerned that Euro-sceptics may rally to vote against the Motion. 

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, explained the organisation’s concerns:

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a role that could really make a fundamental difference to human rights across the globe.

“To have the weight of the 27 EU nations speaking through one voice would be difficult to ignore.

“This is an opportunity for the UK Parliament to demonstrate cross party support for human rights. It would be nothing short of a travesty if this historic opportunity is turned into a party political football all for the sake of some cheap political points.

“Amnesty International would urge all politicians to put party politics to one side and concentrate on the bigger prize and vote for the creation of a new strong advocate of human rights.”

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