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UK downgrading of human rights sets “dangerous precedent”

24th Feb 2016

Amnesty International has said that Britain is setting a “dangerous precedent” by undermining human rights and contributing to a worldwide “culture of impunity” in its annual report on the state of human rights.

Ministers plan to replace the Human Rights Act, which was brought in by Labour in 1998, with a British bill of rights. The government has been criticised for breaching privacy and allowing insufficiently accountable agencies to undertake mass surveillance.

Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, said that the UK is “setting a dangerous precedent to the world on human rights. There’s no doubt that the downgrading of human rights by this government is a gift to dictators the world over and fatally undermines our ability to call on other countries to uphold rights and laws.”

There are concerns amongst human rights groups that the Foreign Office’s own comprehensive annual human rights report, due in April, is being “dramatically scaled back” and will be a quarter of the length of previous publications.

However, the Foreign Office has argued that a more focused report will have much more impact.

In response to the Amnesty report, the government said that it was absolutely committed to promoting and protecting universal human rights. It stated that funding for global human rights and democracy projects have been doubled to £10.6m, and  that “human rights, democratic values and strengthening the rules-based international system are vital and integral parts of the FCO’s work.”

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said that “It is irresponsible for any campaign group to criticise our proposals before they’ve seen them. Amnesty have already been told our plans involve the UK remaining in the European Convention, so this scaremongering undermines their own credibility.”