Hague unveils human rights plan

Andover Advertiser: William Hague says the UK hopes to build support for human rights to assist the struggle against international terrorism William Hague says the UK hopes to build support for human rights to assist the struggle against international terrorism

Britain is to mount an ambitious programme to build support for human rights in key allies in the struggle against international terrorism, Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce.

The "justice and human rights partnerships" initiative is intended to enable the UK to share intelligence relating to terrorist activity in countries with suspect human rights records without it leading to the torture or abuse of suspects.

They will include assistance to overseas security services and investigators to enable them to build cases based on evidence rather than confession and to improve their compliance with the law and human rights.

In a keynote speech to the Royal United Services Institute in London, Mr Hague will acknowledge that the plan carries risks, but he will argue they are outweighed by the dangers of terrorist attacks on British citizens if the Government fails to engage with such countries.

The initiative comes after six British nationals were killed last month when Islamist militants overran a BP-run gas plant in Algeria. But it is likely to prove controversial with civil rights organisations.

In his speech, Mr Hague will emphasise that the main terrorist threat to the UK still comes from al Qaida and its "ideology of violent global jihad" and that consequently the bulk of Britain's counter-terrorism effort is concentrated overseas in countries where extremists train and plan their attacks.

"When we detect a terrorist plot originating in a third country, we want to be in a position to share information to stop that planning, and do it in a way that leads to the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the individuals concerned in accordance with our own legal obligations, and with their human rights respected at every stage," he will say.

"In many cases, we are able to obtain credible assurances from our foreign partners... that give us the safeguards we need and the confidence that we can share information in this way. Where this is not the case, we face a stark choice.

"We could disengage, but this would place our citizens at greater risk of terrorist attack, in the UK or overseas. Or we can choose to share our intelligence in a carefully controlled way while developing a more comprehensive approach to human rights adherence.

"This approach brings risk, but I am clear that the risks of the first option, of stepping back are greater still. How we go about this will have to differ country by country. But we will seek justice and human rights partnerships with countries where there is both a threat to the United Kingdom's security, and weaknesses in the law enforcement, human rights and criminal justice architecture."

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