UK attacked over human rights policy

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The Independent Online
THE United Kingdom falls short of international human rights standards, Amnesty International said today.

The Government's Human Rights Bill, going through Parliament, will incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. But the human rights pressure group Amnesty wants the Government to go much further.

"The Government needs to ensure that its own house is in order if it is to have effective influence on human rights in other countries," Amnesty's director, David Bull, said.

Amnesty produced a report today to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It stands as a challenge to the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's claims to be following an ethical foreign policy.

The study highlights areas where the UK falls short of international standards on human rights and calls for the Government to act on eight points.

It says Britain should ratify and observe all international human rights treaties and standards and abolish the death penalty - which is still permitted, in theory, as a punishment for some crimes.

The Government should also take every opportunity to raise human rights issues with international bodies such as the United Nations and European Union and ensure human rights issues are adequately reflected in foreign policies.

Inside the UK, every asylum claim should be scrutinised carefully to ensure that foreigners at risk of persecution are not forced to go home. Arms exports must be continually monitored and controlled.

The Government should also increase the openness and transparency of its human rights policies and decision-making, and support the establishment of a permanent and independent International Criminal Court.

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