This section contains our review of the human rights situation in 27 countries where the UK Government has wide-ranging concerns. For this year’s report, we decided to review thoroughly the criteria we use for deciding which countries are of most human rights concern to the UK. We drew on feedback from the Foreign Affairs Committee and consulted with the Foreign Secretary’s Advisory Group on Human Rights in doing so. Our geographical departments and embassies and high commissions overseas subsequently assessed all the countries in their regions against this newly revised set of criteria and human rights indicators to decide on a final list for countries and case studies to be included in this annual report. Ministers then made the final decision.
The criteria for inclusion were:
- the gravity of the human rights situation in the country, including both the severity of particular abuses and the range of human rights affected;
- whether a deterioration or improvement in the human rights situation in the country would have a wider impact in the region;
- whether the human rights situation in the country has an impact on wider UK interests; and
- how active the UK is in the country and whether we are able to influence the human rights situation there.
We carried out assessments based on the first criterion and refined these further using the other three criteria. In this way we reached a focused list but with an objective assessment of the human rights situation in each country at its heart. Following this process, Chad was the only country from last year’s list to be removed from the countries of concern category as it did not fully meet the criteria. No new countries were added to the list.
We have, however, added more case studies where we report on countries which we do not class as “of concern”, but which we judge to be on a trajectory of change with regard to human rights. While most focus on countries on a negative trajectory, in others there is a positive change, or we want to highlight a particular thematic issue. Countries on a negative trajectory remain subject to periodic in-year reporting to monitor developments.
The countries of concern and case studies are not an exhaustive list of countries where we think improvements are needed on human rights. Although the countries on which we report here will remain our priorities for 2013, we continue to engage with many other countries on human rights issues, through dialogue and project work. As in last year’s report, we list the countries of concern in alphabetical order.
We will continue to report on developments in the countries of concern online on a regular basis and raise our concerns about human rights issues wherever and whenever they occur.