(Reprieve) – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to put human rights at the heart of Britain’s foreign policy.
In his speech to Labour’s annual conference, Mr Corbyn said he was ready to put “peace and justice” and “values at the heart of our foreign policy. Democracy and human rights are not an optional extra to be deployed selectively.”
He added that he would not “be silent” at abuses in Saudi Arabia, or “the crushing of democracy in Egypt and Bahrain.”
Human rights organisation Reprieve has previously raised concerns over British security assistance to countries that are engaged in abuses. The UK provides training for Saudi and Bahraini police, where political protesters and juveniles face execution. Britain also provides operational support for the US drone programme, which has been expanded under President Trump.
Commenting, Maya Foa – Director of Reprieve – said:
“It’s welcome that Jeremy Corbyn is pledging to put human rights and justice at the heart of British foreign policy. Successive Governments have failed to deliver on similar promises.
“The real test will be whether Labour holds ministers to account over UK security assistance to governments engaged in rights abuses – the police training that Britain gives the Bahraini and Saudi execution machines, and the close UK support for Trump’s expanding drone programme. If Labour wants to inject ethics into UK foreign policy, it must press for urgent reforms in these areas.”