Last week we published the latest reports on the 26 countries where the FCO has the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns. These cover April to June 2011, and are intended to highlight key human rights events in these countries, and to report on actions that the UK has taken over that time period. As I’ve discussed on this blog before, this is a new move by FCO to raise awareness of our human rights work and provide more regular information on developments.
As with all sections of the online Human Rights and Democracy Report, the country pages featuring the latest updates are commentable – meaning you, the public, can give us your views and highlight any additional information or questions for consideration. Since the updates were published last week, we’ve received by far the most comments and queries on our latest report on China. These are being fed directly back to the relevant policy teams here at the FCO.
While the China update has prompted the most response so far, it’s worth considering the other 25 countries too. These include several countries affected by the Arab Spring, including Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as other Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, Iraq, Israel and the OPTs and Saudi Arabia. In Africa, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe/a> are the focus, while there have been significant developments in Belarus, including the adoption of a UN Human Rights Council resolution.
Throughout the second quarter of 2011, human rights have remained high on the agenda in Afghanistan, and our report on Pakistan discusses the ongoing dangers facing various groups in society. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has continued to reject efforts by the EU to achieve a direct dialogue on human rights issues, while our Sri Lanka report profiles the latest developments in relation to alleged war crimes. Our Burma report notes heightening tensions, while our report on Vietnam highlights the UK’s increasing level of engagement on key areas of concern including media freedoms and accountability.
Meanwhile, there have been some signs of progress in Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but still major concerns in a wide range of areas. Colombia passed the historic Land and Victims law in June, but security for human rights defenders remains a serious concern. In Cuba, the release of the last remaining prisoners of conscience in March has been followed by a handful of other positive human rights developments.
The next updates will go live around 30 September 2011 – in the meantime, do leave your thoughts and and any questions on the online Human Rights and Democracy Report and on this blog.