Speaking today, Foreign Secretary William Hague, said:
“The UK government’s policy is clear. We do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for any purpose. We have consistently made clear our absolute opposition to such behaviour and our determination to combat it wherever and whenever it occurs. We take all allegations and concerns about torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment very seriously.
“We are determined to strengthen the FCO’s institutional capability on human rights at home and overseas. The updated guidance reiterates existing advice, setting out the process for FCO staff and other staff working in of Her Majesty’s diplomatic missions and offices for reporting information about torture and mistreatment.
“Timely, accurate, specific and full reporting is crucial in strengthening the government’s work to eradicate torture and CIDT around the world. The FCO is committed to this work and staff already report cases, raise concerns and take action.”
In his “Britain’s values in a networked world” speech on 15 September, the Foreign Secretary set out his determination to strengthen the FCO’s institutional capability on human rights at home and overseas. He made clear that the FCO was re-issuing its guidance to its own staff on reporting alleged incidents of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment they encountered in the course of their work, and that we would for the first time publish this guidance.
In that speech the Foreign Secretary also made clear that: there would be no downgrading of human rights under this Government; that he would convene an advisory group on human rights incorporating key NGOs, independent experts and others (this group met for the first time in December); and that the FCO would improve its human rights reporting by moving away from glossy brochures towards making more real time information available, including online through the FCO website.