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UK setting 'dangerous precedent' on human rights - Amnesty International

Published 24/02/2016

Amnesty said concerns have been raised that the Bill does not contain adequate human rights
Amnesty said concerns have been raised that the Bill does not contain adequate human rights

Britain is setting a "dangerous precedent" to the world by "undermining" human rights, Amnesty International has claimed.

The organisation criticised plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, the UK's absence from EU refugee resettlement schemes and proposed new spying laws.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "The UK is setting a dangerous precedent to the world on human rights.

"There's no doubt that the downgrading of human rights by this government is a gift to dictators the world over and fatally undermines our ability to call on other countries to uphold rights and laws."

Ministers are planning to replace the Human Rights Act 1998, which was brought in by Labour, with a British Bill of Rights.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill unveiled last year is an attempt to bring surveillance tactics used by police and intelligence agencies under one legal umbrella.

Non-governmental organisations have raised concerns that the Bill does not contain adequate human rights, Amnesty said.

Its annual report on the state of the world's human rights also referred to "continued opposition" to participating in EU efforts to "share responsibility for the increasing number of refugees arriving in Europe".

The Government last year opted out of plans to relocate 160,000 people from Italy, Hungary and Greece amid the international migration crisis.

Britain has committed to taking in 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps bordering the country and allocated more than £1 billion in aid.

Amnesty's report cited concerns raised last year about repealing the Human Rights Act.

Referring to the plans, Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: "It is irresponsible for any campaign group to criticise our proposals before they've seen them.

"Amnesty have already been told our plans involve the UK remaining in the European Convention, so this scaremongering undermines their own credibility."

A Government spokeswoman said it is "absolutely committed" to " promoting and protecting universal human rights".

She added: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's departmental report is clear that human rights, democratic values and strengthening the rules-based international system are vital and integral parts of the FCO's work.

"The FCO has also doubled funding for global human rights and democracy projects to its highest ever level of £10.6 million."

"Far from undermining human rights, the Investigatory Powers Bill will promote freedoms and rights by protecting both the privacy and security of the public while ensuring world-leading oversight and safeguards.

"A comprehensive solution is needed to deal with the causes of the migrant crisis, not just its consequences.

"This is why the UK has prioritised humanitarian aid to people in the region and has contributed £1.12 billion to the Syrian crisis - the largest ever UK response to a humanitarian crisis. Britain is also committed to taking in 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees."

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