Ethical policy 'undermined'

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The Independent Online
THE FOREIGN Secretary Robin Cook's promise to put human rights at the heart of government policy has been undermined by other Whitehall departments, the human rights group Amnesty International said yesterday.

Arms have continued to be exported to countries guilty of human rights abuses, and the Government is still sending the message that asylum seekers should "keep out of the UK".

Amnesty published an audit of how far Mr Cook had kept his pledge - made only weeks after the general election - to operate an ethical foreign policy.

The group said the human rights policy pursued by the Foreign Office had "marked an important step forward" from the approach of previous governments and had resulted in "concrete measures which may improve human rights in the world".

But the report warned that the Government had taken "insufficient action" to close "serious loopholes" on arms exports which continued to be allowed to countries with poor human rights records.

Tony Lloyd, Foreign Office Minister, said the report's "central and welcome message" was its praise for the FO and that attempts to draw other conclusions were a "grotesque misrepresentation".