Officials accused of double standards

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The Independent Online

Senior diplomats at the Foreign Office are concerned that the Government's increasingly tough and wide-ranging legislation on terrorism is giving authoritarian regimes abroad the excuse to bring in their own laws suppressing human rights.

British officials lobbying against draconian rules enforced by foreign governments are being accused of "double standards". Peter Ashman, human rights adviser at the Foreign Office, said: "We have had cases... where powers of surveillance meant to counter terrorism have been used on litter droppers.

"We also have cases where foreign governments regularly use laws on criminal defamation to suppress freedom of expression among its population and censor the media. It makes it very difficult for us to argue against that while criminal defamation remains on our own statute books."

Some of the countries bringing in repressive laws are deemed to be allies in combating Muslim extremists and maintain they are protecting against bombers.