FCO’s human rights report as Pravdaesque

The Foreign Office’s 2006 Annual report into Human Rights was published today. Conspicuous by its absence, was any mention of Israeli human rights violations in Lebanon during July and August 2006, while criticism was reserved for Hizbollah alone.

Commenting on this, Chris Doyle, CAABU’s Director stated: “This pravda-style report deliberately ignores Israeli violations of Lebanese human rights. It does not offer even the merest hint that Israel’s mass aerial flattening of Lebanon might somehow have breached the human rights of 1191 Lebanese who were killed, and the million who were displaced. Does this mean the Foreign Office justifies the collective punishment of the Lebanese people through the illegal blockade, the targeting of vital civilian infrastructure such as power stations? Does it endorse the widespread use of cluster bombs in built up civilian areas?”

The eye-witness accounts from journalists, NGOs, aid workers and others as to the destruction by Israeli forces is overwhelming. Other human rights groups have carefully reported on the abuses on both sides, by Israel and Hizbollah. The total failure of the British government to do likewise, further undermines its credibility, and makes a farce of its whole pretence to promote human rights.

It should be stressed that the official excuse that there was not time to include an analysis of what happened in Lebanon is inaccurate. The report talks of Hizbollah being responsible for the deaths of 40 Israeli civilians, and mentions the visit of Hilary Benn to Beirut on 15 August. Why was there time to analyse Hizbollah’s actions and not that of the Israeli armed forces? There were copious reports available of these violations that the Foreign Office could have used. The United Nations was issuing daily reports on the casualty levels.

Moreover, the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett today refused to offer a condemnation or even an expression of concern over this when asked.

All of this paints a frightening picture of the Foreign Office acting as nothing less than a worthless vehicle for discredited propaganda. Britain’s credibility in the Arab World is low enough without needing further reason to sink deeper.

For further information and interviews please contact the CAABU office 0207 832 1320 – [email protected]. Chris Doyle can be reached on 07968 040 281.