Government criticises China over human rights

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The UK hit out at China's continuing "violation" of human rights today in the wake of bloodshed in Tibet.

There has been a "disappointing" lack of progress towards a peaceful settlement in the disputed territory, and people are regularly "harassed" for their religious beliefs.

More executions are also carried out in China than anywhere else in the world, and torture of prisoners is a "concern", according to the British Government.

The criticism comes in the Foreign Office's annual report on human rights, which also highlights problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and Iran.

The document says UK ministers and officials "regularly" raise a range of concerns with the Chinese authorities.

"Violations of human rights continue in Tibet," the report states. "We continue to make clear our view that the best way to improve the situation in Tibet is through meaningful dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama and his representatives, without pre-conditions, to achieve a long-term peaceful solution."

The Foreign Office says that after Saddam Hussein's departure, the "foundations are being laid" in Iraq for a society that respects human rights.

However, it warns that "sectarian violence, lawlessness and violent insurgency" are "widespread".

Around two million Iraqis are displaced within the country, and a further two million have fled to nearby states.

"The Iraqi Police Service has come some way in its capability to maintain public order, investigate crimes and arrest suspects, but the culture of abuse and repression within the Iraqi security forces remains," the report says.

It also points out that the whole justice system is "vulnerable to pressure from political or sectarian groups".

Meanwhile, there has been "significant deterioration" in key human rights areas in Iran, with the regime "paranoid" about international criticism of its nuclear ambitions and economic mismanagement.

Russia has seen a "shrinking of the democratic space" over the past 18 months, according to the report, with restrictions placed on journalists and opposition parties, and xenophobia increasingly prevalent.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are criticised for abuses of women's rights, while Pakistan made "little progress" during 2007 towards improving its record, amid a state of emergency declared by President Pervez Musharraf.

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