Human rights defenders come under attack everday as your Member of Parliament I do my best to raise their cases. As Human Rights Watch have noted, human rights are under threat across the world from both traditional authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia and new authoritarians who bolster their power by demonizing and attacking minorities like Durente in the Philippines or Donald Trump in the US.
I have worked with a range of charities and groups over many years both before and since being elected champion and to defend human rights. You may know that I have a particular interest in defending the rights of trade unionists, social leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia where thousands have been murdered by paramilitaries and others over recent years. I visited Colombia in August as part of a human rights delegation with Justice for Colombia, to meet and hear directly from affected organisations and communities as the murders have increased significantly since the new Colombian President was elected earlier this year.
I routinely raise the issue of human rights violations with Government Ministers and support motions in Parliament backing human rights defenders and their causes. I have also asked the Government to review its arms licencing procedures to ensure that UK arms are not being sold and used to violate human rights. A selection of my Parliamentary Questions about human rights can be found below;
The worrying international landscape for human rights and human rights defenders makes it more important than ever that the UK Government steps up its advocacy in support of human rights and all those working to defend them. It is a source of shame that the current UK Government seem to be more concerned in trying to cut deals with dictators than robustly defending human rights.
For instance, a recent answer to a question I asked a minister, revealed that the UK Government had approved giving military training to various armed forces that have been accused of complicity in human rights abuses including the armed forces of Bahrain, Burma, Eritrea and China.
This disdain for human rights can be seen domestically too. The Government has refused to transpose the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law after we leave the European Union, has repeatedly threatened to scrap the Human Rights Act and has starved the Equality and Human Rights Commission of funding. Whatever the Tories say about human rights, their actions show how little they actually care.
A Labour Government will put respect for human rights at the heart of our foreign policy. We would also make adherence to international human rights obligations a part of our post EU trade deals. We would also review which countries British companies would be permitted to export arms to.Respect for human rights must be a non-negotiable part of British businesses working around the world.
It is clearer than ever that the world needs a UK Government fully committed to the preservation of human rights. As your Member of Parliament I will do all I can to challenge the Government to achieve that.