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Section IV Human Rights for British Nationals Overseas

Section IV Human Rights for British Nationals Overseas

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FCO Human Rights Report 2010
FCO Human Rights Report 2010

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Published by: Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Mar 26, 2011
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SECTION IV: Human Rights for British Nationals Overseas
Promoting and protecting the human rights of British nationals overseas iscentral to our work. Our consular staff, working closely with human rightsNGOs in the UK and abroad, help British nationals facing the death penalty;those who are being mistreated in detention or who have concerns about thefairness of their trials; and those who have been forced into a marriage,subjected to female genital mutilation or whose children have been abductedby a former partner. We also press foreign governments to respect the rightsof British nationals and investigate allegations of abuses .
The Death Penalty
It is the longstanding policy of the UK to oppose the death penalty and we willuse all appropriate influence to prevent the execution of any British nationa l.We work in partnership with the NGO Reprieve on cases and in closecollaboration with the detainee¶s lawyers. Interventions include submittingamicus curiae briefs to foreign courts and high-level political lobbying.In 2010 we intervened on a number of occasions to seek to prevent theexecution of British nationals in the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and theDemocratic Republic of the Congo. In several cases we assess that our interventions helped result either in the commutation of the death penalty o r ina delay in moving towards an execution date, providing further opportunity for us to make additional representations.
Overseas Prisoners
As of 30 September, we were aware of 2,594 British nationals detained in 139countries overseas. Consular staff spent a substantial proportion of timeassisting British nationals in detention, including visiting them.
 
 One particular case arose in July, when we became aware of a Britishnational detained abroad on drugs charges. We were not notified of his arrestuntil a week after it happened, in which time he alleged that he had beenbeaten whilst in custody. Consular staff visited him and offered consular assistance ± including information about the prison and legal system ± andput him in touch with the NGOs Reprieve and Prisoners Abroad. We alsooffered to contact his family to make them aware of the situation. After gettinghis permission to do so, we protested to the authorities about both the lack of consular notification and his mistreatment.Consular staff aim to contact British detainees within 24 hours of beingnotified of their arrest or detention, and to visit them as soon as possibleafterwards. We work to ensure that countries meet their consular notificationobligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations or under anybilateral conventions they have with the UK. If our consular staff are deniedaccess to a detained British national, we will lobby vigorously to ensure thatwe are allowed to see them, both to check on their welfare and to explain thesupport we can offer. This support includes direct help, as well as providinginformation and access to the services of our NGO partners, most notablyReprieve, Fair Trials International, and Prisoners Abroad.In 2010 we provided funding for a Fair Trials International project to develop asystem for providing non-discretionary basic legal assistance, support andreferrals to all British nationals facing criminal charges overseas. We alsoprovided core funding for several of our UK NGO partners, including Reprieveand Prisoners Abroad, to help ensure that those detained get the assistancethey need.In 2010 numerous instances of mistreatment were reported to us by Britishnationals detained overseas. These ranged from being threatened by a policeofficer to reports of torture. On those occasions where the individual did notwish us to take action about their treatment, especially while they remained indetention, we respected their wishes but sought their permission to pursue the
 
allegations on release. Where we had the individual¶s permission, we raisedthe allegations with foreign authorities, often repeatedly, although theresponses frequently remained inadequate. We will continue to approachforeign authorities if British nationals are not treated in line with internationallyaccepted standards.
F
orced Marriage
 Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse and, where it affects children,child abuse. The Forced Marriage Unit ± a joint initiative of the FCO and theHome Office ± leads the Government¶s work to tackle forced marriage,helping British nationals who are in difficulty abroad and supporting victims of any nationality in the UK.In 2010, the unit provided help and support in 1,735 cases of potential or actual forced marriage. In many of these cases the unit helped people accessappropriate support from other agencies. The unit, working with our embassies and high commissions, directly helped victims to escape forcedmarriages in 240 cases. Often this involved visiting victims overseas and, if requested, helping them make arrangements to return to the UK. One 17 -year-oldgirl was rescued, with help from the local authorities, from a remotearea in South Asia where she was being held against her will, abused andforced into marriage. Our consular team in the High Commission arrangedsafe accommodation for her and a flight back to the UK, where she was metby social services and the police. With assistance she has taken out a ForcedMarriage Protection Order and started to rebuild her life. We also helped 229people who had been forced into marriage and were subsequently beingcoerced into sponsoring a visa for their spouse.People at risk of forced marriage may only have one chance to ask for help,which means that all practitioners need to be able to spot the warning signsand know what to do. We launched an interactive e-learning package in2010, strengthening the multi-agency response to forced marriage byenabling a wide range of frontline practitioners to access tr aining. We also

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