The British government has released its Human Rights Report for 2013, saying 28 nations are "countries of concern" for the U.K.
Both the Central African Republic and Burma are listed as “countries of concern”. According to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, this follows a “review of all countries with serious human rights problems.” The Central African Republic was added to the list in this year's report.
The report outlines what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the U.K. government say is its diplomatic network to defend human rights and promote democracy around the world. It also sets out the analysis of country situations.
Hague called 2013 a “tumultuous” year and “with setbacks, as well as successes. Human rights opportunities and obligations inspired our diplomats in every corner of the world, and shaped our policies in every forum.”
The U.K. has a Human Rights and Democracy fund and allocated £6.5 million towards 83 projects around the world.
The protests in Turkey last year are also mentioned in the report under the "Freedom of expression" section.
“The response by Turkish police to nationwide demonstrations over the summer raised freedom of expression concerns, ”the report says.
“The U.K. has launched a joint project with the Ministry of Interior, aimed at supporting the Turkish government to reach a more effective balance between respecting the right to peaceful protest, while ensuring public safety,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. It said it remained a “strong supporter” of Turkey’s EU accession process. The report said Turkey’s EU succession would be “an effective framework for taking forward the reform agenda in Turkey”.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office believes that joining the EU would mean full realization of the economic, political and human rights guaranteed to all EU citizens. Although the European Commission's 2013 annual progress report highlighted areas of concern around freedom of expression and assembly, the report says it is important that momentum on the accession process is maintained. The office said that opening negotiations with Turkey would “enable the EU to intensify work with Turkey in key areas where reform efforts need to be accelerated.”
The U.K. government also funded projects that supported human rights and other projects aimed at promoting EU standards in Turkey to the tune of £1 million.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also said it had concerns about freedom of expression in Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
However, the advocacy organization CAGE, which is based in the U.K. and campaigns on behalf of the victims of the battle against terrorism, was critical of the report.
"The absence of human rights violations committed by Britain is surprising, to say the least," said Amandla Thomas-Johnson, a Cage spokeswoman. "It was only last week that former prime minister Tony Blair admitted he had full knowledge of the CIA's secret interrogation and rendition program where individuals were flown around the world to be abused and tortured often with the help of British agents. With the American prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, the very epitome of human rights abuse, still looming large, it is revealing that claims of American abuse of individuals does not at all feature in this report."
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