Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Concerns over human rights report

Amnesty International is concerned over the Government's human rights report

Campaigners have voiced concerns after it emerged that the Foreign Office's annual human rights report could be downgraded as part of cost-cutting measures.

The document has been published since 1997 to highlight levels of torture, oppression, capital punishment and arms trading around the world.

But it seems the details may now only be issued online amid intense pressure on budgets.

A Foreign Office spokesman denied the publication was being scrapped altogether, saying: "The only question is how that report can most cost-effectively be produced in the current financial climate.

"We are looking at alternatives to the expensive glossy colour publications of the past, for example online publication or publication by command paper.

"Final decisions will be announced in due course."

The spokesman stressed that human rights and poverty reduction would remain the "irreducible core" of British foreign policy.

But campaigning group Amnesty International warned that dropping the publication would leave a "huge gap in terms of accountability and transparency".

Director Kate Allen said: "The report is not perfect, but it offers an annual assessment of the UK's activities on human rights. Without it there will be a big hole."

She added: "The Government has already stressed that it will concentrate on trade when it comes to foreign policy. But that move cannot be at any cost."

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