Memorandum from Amnesty International
1. The 11 September attacks on the United
States of America, have produced significant implications for
human rights. However, as the FCO's Human Rights Annual Report
2001 was completed before the attacks took place, Amnesty International
will seek another opportunity to convey to the Committee its concerns
about the post-11 September human rights environment.
2. Amnesty International welcomes the publication
of the FCO's Human Rights Annual Report 2001. The practice of
producing an annual report contributes to a wider and deeper understanding
of human rights activities and policies. It provides an opportunity
for the FCO to explain issues in greater detail than may be possible
in the speeches of ministers or departmental press releases.
3. It is clear from the report that the
FCO's human rights activity includes many examples of good practice.
Without an annual report, it is unlikely that such examples would
reach the public domain in a comprehensive and coherent manner.
4. This year's annual report was published
in September, somewhat later than in previous years. This aroused
initial concern that the change of leadership at the FCO might
have affected the department's commitment to this report. Amnesty
International was therefore pleased to note that when it did arrive,
it matched the significantly improved standards reached last year.
We hope that this means that production of the report has taken
firm root in departmental practice.
5. We are similarly pleased to note that
the General Election has not altered the Foreign Affairs Committee's
wish to hold an annual inquiry into the FCO's human rights work.
We regard this as essential scrutiny of a vital area of UK foreign
A. Amnesty International welcomes the publication
of FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2001 and we hope that next year's
publication attains the same standards of presentation and content.
B. We welcome the Foreign Affairs Committee's
inquiry into the FCO's Human Rights Annual Report 2001 and hope
that this is now embedded as an important feature of the parliamentary
6. The report quotes Robin Cook's speech
in March 2001, in which he said "I want to make the FCO's
commitment to human rights irreversible. The best way to secure
that is by changing its culture" (p 6). Chapter 2 highlights
a number of initiatives to mainstream human rights including through
training, secondment of staff to and from NGOs, and the placing
of human rights advisors in UK missions.
7. In this context, one should mention the
Human Rights Project Fund (HRPF). Because UK missions are a principal
vehicle for project applications, the provision of HRPD assistance
not only has a positive effect on the recipients, it also develops
practical familiarity with human rights projects within the UK's
overseas missions. We therefore believe HRPF should be maintained
at least at its current level and that there might be a good case
for additional funding.
8. However, mainstreaming human rights requires
clear leadership from the top, including the Secretary of State,
his ministers and the most senior civil servants.
9. This session's Queen's Speech included
a commitment to "work to encourage universal observance of
human rights, including throughout the Commonwealth". In
his first major speech as Foreign Secretary on 22 June, Mr Straw
said that the government would "continue to uphold the values
which underpin our own security and prosperity, and that of our
allieshuman rights, democracy, fundamental freedoms to
which every human being is entitledand we shall use our
influence in the world to help confront tyranny, oppression, poverty,
conflict and human suffering". These references were welcome
and we hope that in 2002, the Foreign Secretary will elaborate
in more detail his commitment to human rights and his priorities
for the FCO's work in this area.
C. We welcome initiatives to mainstream
human rights throughout the FCO.
D. We believe that HRPF provides an important
contribution in this respect, as well as being a useful form of
support to many human rights organisations.
E. Efforts to mainstream human rights must
be supported by clear commitments at the top. We therefore hope
that next year's annual human rights report will refer to a significant
speech from the Secretary of State, spelling out his principles
and priorities for UK human rights policy.
10. After the inquiry into last year's FCO
Human Rights Annual Report, the Committee and the Government exchanged
views on the presentation of human rights concerns in individual
countries. The structure of this year's report is basically the
same as its predecessors. However, more countries appear to be
examined than in previous years.
11. It is also interesting to observe, by
way of an example, that the treatment of Indonesia is more comprehensive
than the hopelessly inadequate assessments contained in some past
reports. This year's description notes that "serious human
rights problems remain" despite encouraging progress. Importantly,
it notes that "[s]erious human rights abuses continue to
be committed in the context of inter-religious and inter-ethnic
conflict, with the police and military often unable or unwilling
to respond. There have also been instances where rogue elements
among the security forces have actively fomented trouble".
Following massacres in Borneo in February 2001, the response by
security forces was "culpably slow". The few investigations
into human rights abuses that have taken place have "failed
to result in credible judicial processes. Where trials have taken
place involving the police and military, senior officers have
been spared at the expense of junior ranks". (p 16)
12. These are important points. In the past,
the UK Government has been slow to acknowledge the direct involvement,
collusion or culpability of security forces in human rights abuses,
particularly in those countries perceived as primary markets for
UK strategic exports.
13. The Indonesian government remains reluctant
to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations to account.
The President has so limited the jurisdiction of an ad hoc human
rights court on East Timor so that it is unable to consider the
vast majority of crimes committed after the independence ballot.
The Indonesian authorities have also consistently refused to co-operate
with the investigation of serious crimes by the UN Transitional
Authority for East Timor. The UK must continue to raise these
issues bilaterally and in multilateral fora, in particular at
the forthcoming session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
14. Throughout Chapter 1, a number of initiatives
are identified to demonstrate the progress being made by the various
countries. For example:
in Croatia, a "legislative reform
programme was unveiled offering reform of the state media and
the facilitation of the return of Croatian Serb refugees"
the Turkish government, to prepare
for EU accession negotiations, has adopted a National Programme
for the Adoption of the Acquis. This "includes proposed measures
to tackle the EU's main concerns about Turkey's human rights record"
(p 10); and
in Colombia, the UK Government is
"providing practical support to the Colombian authorities
to tackle the problem of collusion between elements of the Colombian
Armed Forces and paramilitary forces" (p 22).
15. These and the other initiatives and
progress indicators set out in Chapter 1 should be revisited next
year. The Government should describe their progress and their
practical impact. Not all will be delivered and not all will have
the intended effect, but Amnesty International believes that the
analysis will assist a year-on-year assessment of progress.
F. Although it is based on the same structure
as 2000's edition, the Human Rights Annual Report 2001 has, to
a degree, improved its consideration of the situation in specific
G. The UK must continue to press Indonesia
to improve its human rights situation and to address the culture
of impunity; this should be raised at the forthcoming session
of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
H. Where the report highlights positive
developments and initiatives in a particular country, we hope
that next year's report will provide an update of their progress
16. The government appears to view critical
engagement as its policy of choice in dealing with countries facing
significant human rights challenges. There are potential advantages
to policies of critical engagement and the establishment of structured
human rights dialogues with other governments. However, the potential
dangers are also clear, not least the possibility of their use
as a fig leaf for "business as usual".
17. The Foreign Affairs Committee has repeatedly
sought an explanation of the criteria for pursuing a critical
engagement policy with other countries. The Government has consistently
rejected this. We believe that this is unfortunate and that broad
criteria should be established. The success of any policy should
be measured in terms of its effect and whether it achieves its
objectives within an envisaged time. This clearly depends on the
partner government's willingness to listen, talk, acknowledge
problems and take remedial action. It therefore follows that relevant
criteria or principles might include:
human rights dialogues cannot be
sustained with governments who refuse to accept problems or where
discussions are marked by obfuscation over a sustained period
they must seek shared analysis of
problems leading to concrete objectives for change;
there must be an expectation that
some improvements can be achieved in a specified timescale;
they must be characterised by transparency
with both sides willing to publicly acknowledge problems and set
out the measures intended to address them.
18. The most widely noted example of a human
rights dialogue is that between the United Kingdom and China.
The report spells out that one objective is to bring about an
end to capital punishment and in the meantime to obtain meaningful
statistics on the use of the death penalty. The fact that both
the UK and EU have unsuccessfully sought such statistics for a
number of years suggests that one might question whether the dialogue
is a vehicle for change.
19. It should also be noted that an increasing
number of countries have entered into bilateral human rights dialogues
with China. Within the European Union at least, governments should
endeavour to co-ordinate their bilateral dialogues to maximise
their impact and minimise wasteful duplication.
I. We remain concerned that human rights
dialogues might become ends in themselves; we again recommend
that the FCO set out the broad criteria or principles that underpin
its human rights dialogues.
J. EU member states should endeavour to
co-ordinate their bilateral human rights dialogues with China.
20. Amnesty International is pleased to
note that significant attention has again been paid to the contribution
of other departments to the promotion and protection of human
rightsat home and abroad.
21. Whilst the report highlights some positive
examples of joined up government, there have also been instances
where interdepartmental communication has been notable by its
absence. One example was exposed by the International Development
Select Committee, through its tenacious inquiries into potential
export credit support for a UK contractor in Turkey's Ilisu Dam
22. Amnesty International does not wish
to cover in detail what is already well trodden ground but we
believe that both the FCO and the DTI merit criticism for their
failings. The lesson to be drawn is of the need for the FCO to
provide a comprehensive human rights analysis of projects on its
own initiative. The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD)
and the DTI should step beyond their apparent role as passive
consumers of human rights assessments from other departments.
They must take a far more proactive approach to seeking relevant
information, including from non-government sources.
23. Amnesty International is pleased to
note that the ECGD's mission and status review has led to a statement
of business principles that indicate greater attention to the
environmental, social and human rights impacts of projects. However,
we note that it is not clear in what circumstances projects that
may contribute to human rights violations might be deemed acceptable.
It is also not clear what the outcome would be if ECGD's attempts
to "press for reform" are unsuccessful.
K. Amnesty International welcomes the continued
attention to "joined up government" in this FCO human
L. Amnesty International welcomes the tenacious
work undertaken by the International Development Select Committee
on the Ilisu Dam project and believes that it exposes significant
failings in both the DTI and the FCO. In future, the FCO must
proactively supply, and the ECGD proactively seek, comprehensive
human rights assessments.
M. The Government should spell out in detail
the screening procedures used by ECGD to determine whether a project
may reasonably be assumed to contribute to human rights violations.
It should also indicate what actions would be taken when ECGD's
dialogue with a company fails to produce a significant improvement
in a project's social, environmental and human rights impact.
24. Amnesty International welcomes the introduction
of the Export Controls and Non-Proliferation Bill. The organisation
has provided detailed comments on this, including to the Quadripartite
Select Committee (QPC). We would like to commend the QPC as an
important exercise in "joined up scrutiny". Our recommendations
for strong legislation are available to the Committee on demand.
25. The FCO's Human Rights Annual Report
2001 also notes that in December 2000, EU Member States agreed
a list of non-military items which should be subject to EU export
controls for human rights reasons. The European Commission is
presently developing a Community instrument in this area. Amnesty
International believes that the UK Government should use this
opportunity to press for a complete ban on the export of torture
equipment. An EU common control list is important given discrepancies
between Member States' policies in this area. We believe that
the instrument should cover all arms and security equipment, servicing
and training and the provision of personnel.
26. We note with satisfaction the UK's unilateral
initiative to ban the export of torture equipment from UK soil.
However, we believe that the powers provided in the Export Controls
and Non-Proliferation Bill should be used to achieve a ban on
the brokering and trafficking of this category of equipment by
UK citizens. We also believe that the ban should be extended to
cover the promotion and marketing of such equipment.
N. The new export controls legislation should
be used to achieve a ban on the brokering and trafficking of torture
equipment by UK citizens. We also believe that the ban should
be extended to cover the promotion and marketing of such equipment.
O. The Government should work for the swift
adoption of a European Community instrument to establish a common
control list of non-military items. This instrument should cover
all arms and security equipment, servicing and training and the
provision of personnel. The Government should use this opportunity
to achieve an EU ban on the export, transhipment, brokering and
promotion of torture related equipment.
UN COMMISSION FOR
27. Amnesty International is pleased that
John Battle underlined at last year's UN Commission on Human Rights
(UNCHR) that the UK would always agree to requests for visits
by UN special rapporteurs and other mechanisms of the Commission
(see p 23). This sets an example which other countries should
28. On page 42, the FCO observes that most
countries "will go to considerable lengths to avoid the embarrassment
of being criticised by the rest of the international community".
Consequently, the CHR is "an opportunity to remind all UN
states of their obligations to adhere to international standards".
The resulting conclusion is that the process of tabling, co-sponsoring
and speaking in support of resolutions is an important means of
putting pressure on other governments to improve respect for human
rights in their countries.
29. The European Union has been active in
promoting country resolutions. Nevertheless, we remain mystified
by its refusal in past years to co-sponsor the draft resolution
on China tabled by the USA. Although China usually prevents discussion
of any resolution through a procedural device, the act of co-sponsoring
a resolution is an important way for the EU to express concern.
The USA is not a member of the CHR for 2002, Amnesty International
therefore believes that the EU should take responsibility for
tabling a draft resolution.
30. Last year, the CHR did adopt a strong
resolution on the situation in Chechnya for the second year running.
Amnesty International was particularly pleased that it called
for credible and exhaustive investigations into alleged violations
of human rights and international humanitarian law.
31. However, we remain concerned that such
investigations are still not taking place and that both sides
have continued to abuse human rights since last year's CHR session.
The comments of Gerhard Schroeder during a joint press conference
with the Russian President in Berlin on 25 September are therefore
concerning. He said: "as regards Chechnya, there will be
and must be a more differentiated evaluation in world opinion."
32. Russia's record on compliance with the
2001 resolution must be thoroughly examined in 2002. If Chancellor
Schroeder's remarks indicate willingness within the EU to soft-pedal
on human rights in Chechnya, the United Kingdom should play a
leading role in resisting such attempts.
33. The UN Commission on Human Rights should
also examine the situation in Zimbabwe. Various bilateral and
multilateral initiatives have not produced an improvement in the
human rights situation and President Mugabe has previously noted
that the EU (and US) has not put its case before the United Nations.
The CHR session provides an opportunity for discussion at the
UN's primary human rights body.
34. In previous years, the CHR has addressed
the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories and in Colombia.
Given the deteriorating human rights situations over the past
year, they must remain on the agenda. We also hope that the EU
will press for Saudi Arabia to be the subject of a resolution.
The CHR has never discussed the situation in that country, despite
systematic and widespread human rights violations.
P. We believe that the Government should
urge other countries to follow its example of undertaking to agree
to any request for a visit from UN Special Rapporteurs or other
mechanisms of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Q. Amnesty International believes that the
EU should table a resolution on China at the forthcoming CHR session.
R. The UK should ensure that Russia's compliance
with last year's resolution on Chechnya is carefully examined.
In the absence of credible and exhaustive investigations into
allegations of abuses of international humanitarian law and human
rights, a further resolution should be tabled.
S. The situation in Zimbabwe should also
be discussed, given the failure of various bilateral and multilateral
initiatives to achieve progress.
T. Israel and the Occupied Territories should
remain on the agenda and the CHR should address the systematic
and widespread human rights violations in Saudi Arabia in public
THE UN HIGH
35. At the UNCHR session in 2001, the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, announced her
resignation, citing the difficulties of working within the UN
system. Over recent years, the demands on her office have grown
substantially and there has been no parallel growth in resources.
Although she agreed to remain in post for another year, the problems
she encounters demand urgent attention.
36. The FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2001
details welcome voluntary contributions to OHCHR activities from
both DFID and the FCO. However, we are particularly pleased to
note the FCO's assertion that her office "needs more secure
funding so that it can plan better" (p 45). In his statement
to the UNCHR (Annex 2, p 135), John Battle stated that:
The UK values the work of the human rights treaty
monitoring bodies as a cornerstone of the UN's human rights system.
Support for these bodies, and the CHR's mechanisms, as core functions
of the High Commissioner's Office, should be priorities for UN
regular budget funding.
37. Amnesty International agrees and hopes
that the UK government will lead efforts to ensure that the office
receives the regular budget funding it deserves. We hope that
next year's Human Rights Annual Report will include a description
of how the Government has sought to achieve this goal.
U. The UK government should play a leading
role in efforts to ensure more secure funding from the UN regular
budget for the functions of the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights.
38. The FCO report highlights the EU's enlargement
process as an opportunity to achieve real and lasting respect
for human rights in the candidate countries. It notes that Turkey,
like other EU candidates, must meet the political criteria for
membership before accession negotiations can commence. The report
notes that Turkey has adopted a National Programme for the Adoption
of the Acquis, to achieve this.
39. Reform initiatives are clearly welcome.
Nevertheless, human rights violations persist in the country.
Freedom of expression and of association have come under particular
pressure during 2001 in the wake of the serious prison disturbances
in the country. Allegations of torture remain widespread. It is
therefore of crucial importance that all EU institutions and member
states press for meaningful action to address violations and closely
scrutinise the detailed implementation of Turkey's reform programme.
This should include careful, ongoing assessment and transparent
reporting of the human rights situation on the ground.
Human rights clause
40. The human rights clause contained in
EU agreements with third countries was the subject of exchanges
between the Committee and the Government last year. The Committee
had expressed concerns about apparent unwillingness to contemplate
invoking this clause. In answer, the government noted that the
suspension of an agreement was a genuine policy option but stated
that maintaining the agreements "and so a full political
dialogue" preserves EU leverage.
41. This would be persuasive if political
dialogue does include significant and concrete discussions on
human rights. Amnesty International is not convinced that the
past operationalisation of the human rights clause and the conduct
of political dialogue provide grounds for optimism in the future.
42. As each member state has to ratify agreements,
such as those arising from the "Barcelona process" with
Mediterranean countries, national Parliaments can scrutinise such
agreements. We believe that Parliament should take a much closer
interest, including by referring back to past operationalisation
of the human rights clause.
V. The EU should continue to scrutinise
the human rights of candidate countries. The institutions and
member states should press the Turkish authorities to bring about
a lasting improvement in the human rights situation there, including
through close and comprehensive scrutiny of reform implementation
and the situation on the ground.
W. The UK government should play a leading
role in ensuring that the EU's political dialogue with third countries
pays particular attention to human rights.
X. Parliament should enhance its scrutiny
of EU agreements with third countries.
43. In July 2001, the UN convened a conference
on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. This aimed
to agree a programme of action containing recommendations to governments.
Amnesty International welcomed the initiative and we acknowledge
the active and constructive role played by the UK within the European
Union and the wider international community during preparations
for the conference.
44. The EU is to be commended for identifying
the importance of regulating the brokering of weapons. As Belgian
Foreign Minister Louis Michel noted when addressing the conference
on 9 July 2001, "[b]rokering is a major problem in the context
of the illicit trade in small arms. For this reason we consider
a legally binding instrument to be necessary".
45. Nevertheless, the Programme of Action
adopted by the conference is disappointing. The EU, Canada and
Norway pressed for an agreement that small arms should not be
exported where there is a real risk that they will be used to
violate human rights or fuel foreign aggression. A number of other
governments, including the USA, China, many members of the Association
of South East Asian States, the Arab Group and South Africa blocked
Y. The government should continue its strong
advocacy for stronger international control on the transfer of
46. Amnesty International believes that
the government should also be paying similar attention to the
issue of mercenaries. The UK has a long history of supplying mercenaries,
training and other military and security services. Legislation
relating to mercenaries was passed in 1870 and is clearly outdated.
47. In 1998, Baroness Symons told the House
of Lords that the government was "examining a number of options
for national domestic regulation of so-called private military
companies operating out of the United Kingdom".
In April 1999, the Secretary of State announced that the government
would produce a paper, as recommended by the Foreign Affairs Committee.
48. Amnesty International shares the frustration
expressed by the Committee in past reports at the Government's
failure to produce its promised green paper on mercenary activity.
We agree with Enrique Ballesteros, the UN special rapporteur on
mercenaries, who described the failure to publish a consultation
paper as "a deplorable backward step".
Z. The government merits condemnation for
its failure to deliver a consultation paper on regulating mercenary
activity. This should now be regarded as a priority.
49. Chapter 5 of the report highlights the
government's support for corporate social responsibility. It describes
useful initiatives that aim to educate companies and help them
to develop human rights policies.
50. However, on their own, they do not provide
sufficient incentive for companies to change their practices.
There is a divergence between society's expectations and the behaviour
of companies with regard to human rights. This gap lends impetus
to anti-corporate sentiments.
51. Companies should not only be accountable
for serving their shareholders' interests, they should also be
accountable for their impact on all those affected by their activities.
This will require changes in corporate governance and the establishment
of a regulatory framework that enforces compliance.
52. Amnesty International regrets the Company
Law Review Steering Group's rejection of a "pluralist stakeholder"
approach. This would have imposed on company directors a duty
of care towards all those affected by a company's global operations.
The review also rejected a proposal that companies should be required
to provide information about the social and environmental impact
of their operations in their annual report. Amnesty International
believes that if companies were required to provide such details
of their activities, and those of their subsidiaries and partnerships,
they would be more accountable for their conduct and give affected
communities, investors and other stakeholders greater opportunity
to influence corporate policy.
AA. The government should revise company
law to provide that company directors have a duty to consider
the interests of all those affected by their companies' operations,
BB. The government should require companies
to report on the social, environmental and ethical aspects of
their activities in their annual reports.
53. Chapter 5 defends the universality of
human rights. This is welcome. So is the attention paid to "honour
crimes". This practice, where women are killed or injured,
usually by male relatives, for having broken a taboo and "dishonoured"
the family, still continues in too many countries.
54. The government's rejection of any justification
for "honour crimes" is clear and strident. Its co-sponsorship
of a resolution on "honour crimes" at the UN General
Assembly indicates a willingness to pursue this matter internationally.
Encouragingly, the chapter has also named the countries where
these crimes are most prevalent. Amnesty International hopes that
this interest will be maintained and that next year's FCO annual
report will contain further information on FCO initiatives. In
particular, we hope to see an update of steps taken in third countries
to eliminate honour crimes and the representations made by the
UK government to this end.
CC. The government's strong condemnation
of "honour crimes" is welcome. It should continue to
confront this issue. Next year's report should contain further
details of initiatives, obstacles, achievements and impact.
55. Chapter 6 begins with an affirmation
of the "universal" value of justice. It describes impunity
as "a disaster on both personal and societal levels".
Indeed, some crimes are so serious that the international community
has an interest in ensuring justice and denying impunity. The
Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court is a testament
to this principle.
56. Amnesty International is pleased that
the UK has now ratified the Rome Statute, fulfilling the government's
commitment to be amongst the first 60 countries to do so.
57. Ratification by the UK required the
enactment of primary legislation in both Westminster and Holyrood.
This went beyond the minimum requirements of the Rome Statute.
Amnesty International is pleased that it provides an expedited
process to respond to the ICC's requests for the arrest and transfer
of indictees. The legislation also envisages the possibility of
ICC convicts serving their sentences in UK jails.
58. However, we are disappointed that the
jurisdiction of UK courts only applies to crimes committed on
UK territory or by UK residents. "Resident" has an uncertain
definition in UK criminal law. The possibility remains that those
suspected of "ICC crimes" could visit the UK, perhaps
for an extended period, without falling under the jurisdiction
of domestic courts. Greater clarity would have been achieved by
providing for jurisdiction over all persons present in the UK.
59. Section 23 of the ICC Act contains perhaps
an even more serious weakness. This allows the Secretary of State
to intervene in any case where diplomatic or state immunities
apply and order that no proceedings be taken to transfer the individual
in question to the ICC. This could apply even if the country that
originally conferred it waives immunity. The government has failed
to suggest when such discretion might be necessary.
60. Despite these shortcomings, the ICC
legislation and the UK's ratification of the Rome Statute are
significant achievements. The next challenge is to make the ICC
a success and ensure that the Statute is widely ratified.
61. This will require active diplomacy and
might lead to disagreements with the United States of America.
It is clear that the USA will not ratify the Rome Statute in the
short-to-medium term. However, it is uncertain whether Washington
will actively oppose the court and use its influence to dissuade
other countries from ratification. The UK, with partners in the
EU and beyond, must therefore work to maintain the ICC's integrity
and, if necessary, counter US lobbying.
DD. The government should amend the ICC
Act and the Scottish Executive should amend equivalent parts of
the ICC (Scotland) Act to a) provide for domestic courts to have
jurisdiction over all persons present in the UK; and b) eliminate
the discretion provided to the Secretary of State in Section 23(4)
of the Act.
EE. The government should work with other
countries to maintain the integrity of the Rome Statute and encourage
its wide ratification.
FF. The government should seek to ensure
the success of the ICC by:
ensuring that the ICC is adequately
providing relevant evidence, including
evidence acquired through intelligence;
acting on any request to arrest and
transfer individuals indicted by the ICC;
ensuring the investigation of suspects
falling, or likely to fall, under the jurisdiction of UK courts.
62. Since their establishment, Conservative
and Labour governments have both supported the International Criminal
Tribunals for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR).
Aspects of the current government's support are described in Chapter
63. The surrender of Slobodan Milosevic
to ICTY in June 2001 is a welcome development and ICTR has taken
significant steps to overcome earlier difficulties and has established
its credibility. UK support for the tribunals must be maintained.
64. On page 9, the FCO report describes
the UK's support for a Special Court for Sierra Leone to deal
with the most serious past human rights abuses. The section notes
that the court will be funded from voluntary contributions and
states that the UN Secretary General "has decreed that there
are now sufficient funds to take the next steps in setting up
a UN Sierra Leone Special Court".
65. This sentence implies that the decision
to fund the court from voluntary contributions has been uncontroversial
and unproblematic. This is not the case.
66. The court's present budget of $57 million
for three years (with $16.8 million required for the first year)
is a dramatically reduced figure from the $114 million originally
envisaged for the operation of the court over three years. This
adjustment became necessary after it was soon realised that voluntary
contributions could not match the original figure.
67. Although the FCO is correct in reporting
the Secretary-General's affirmation that the next steps in the
court's establishment could be taken, it fails to report other
aspects of his 31 July letter to the Security Council. This also
noted that there was still a shortfall of $1.8 million in pledges
for the first year of operation and of $19.6 million for the second
and third years. He went on to state that "I remain conscious
of the difficulties inherent in securing funding on the basis
of voluntary contributions. I therefore reserve the right to revert
to the Council at any time in the course of the operation of the
Special Court and ask it to consider alternate means of financing
68. On 8 November, a press statement from
the Security Council President noted that "additional funding
was still required for establishment of the Court".
69. The UK deserves praise for its actions
to support peace in Sierra Leone. It is therefore regrettable
that the FCO report failed to convey the difficulties that have
been a consequence of the UN Security Council's decision to fund
the court through voluntary contributions.
GG. The government should continue to urge
other governments to make voluntary contributions. It should also
indicate its readiness to reconsider the means of funding the
court should this be requested by the UN Secretary-General.
70. Despite being banned by international
agreement, torture persists around the world. Between 1997 and
2000, Amnesty International received reports of torture and ill-treatment
by state officials in more than 150 countries. We therefore welcome
FCO initiatives in the fight against torture.
71. We congratulate the European Union on
its April 2001 Guidelines to EU Policy Towards Third Countries
on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. The
Union must now implement the guidelines.
72. For the past 10 years, the international
community has been attempting to agree an Optional Protocol to
the UN Convention Against Torture. This would establish a sub-committee
of the Committee Against Torture to carry out external inspection
of places of detention. The negotiations are difficult but we
are encouraged by the government's support for a strong optional
73. Amnesty International believes that
five principles are fundamental to an effective protocol:
the sub-committee should have a standing
invitation to visit the territory of any state party to the protocol;
it must be guaranteed unlimited access
to all places of detention and to all detainees, with the right
to conduct interviews in private;
if a state refuses to co-operate
or partially releases the sub-committee's report, the Sub-Committee
must be able to make a statement or to publish its report;
reservations must not be allowed
to the protocol;
national legislation must not be
used to limit or restrict the work of the sub-committee.
74. A weak optional protocol would provide
a cover of credibility for some governments and so might be worse
than no agreement at all. The UK must therefore refuse to agree
a weak text.
HH. The FCO should continue to accord a
high priority to the fight against torture and should develop
further initiatives to contribute to this struggle.
II. Within the EU, the UK should work for
the effective implementation of the Guidelines to EU Policy Towards
Third Countries on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
JJ. The government should maintain its support
for a strong Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture;
it must not agree a weak text.
75. Amnesty International welcomes the government's
continued opposition to the death penalty, expressed bilaterally
and through the EU. We also welcome the FCO's announcement, in
February 2001, that the UK now expresses its opposition to the
imposition of the death penalty on UK nationals whenever it feels
that representations are appropriate, from the moment it becomes
a possibility. This replaced the previous policy of awaiting completion
of the judicial process.
KK. The government's active opposition to
the death penalty is welcome and should be maintained.
12 Eighth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee,
Session 2000-2001, Human Rights Annual Report 2000: Follow up
to Government Response-Response of the Secretary of State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, July 2001, Cm 5216, paragraph
Lords Official Report 30 June 1998, Col. WA65 Back
Financial Times, 18 April 2001. Back
16 SC/7202. Back