UK government ‘failing citizens’ in handling of state hostage taking, says inquiry

The UK authorities is “failing British residents” in its dealing with of state-level hostage-taking, the chair of a cross-party parliamentary group has mentioned following its inquiry into arbitrary detention.

The report, printed by the Home of Commons’ overseas affairs choose committee on Tuesday, known as for ministers to take a “zero tolerance method” to politically motivated seize and imprisonment, which the MPs argued represented a risk to the rules-based worldwide order.

In recent times, the federal government has come underneath intense scrutiny over its dealing with of detainees following the case of UK-Iranian twin nationwide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in Iran on spying fees in April 2016 and returned to the UK in March 2022.

Following the discharge of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori, the committee launched its inquiry into the federal government’s method to state hostage scenario in July 2022.

The report criticised the federal government’s file on speaking with the households of detainees and condemned the “inconsistency of method” throughout the Overseas Workplace, citing a “excessive turnover of ministers and civil servants”.

The report comes as charity employee Kevin Cornwell and two different British nationwide are being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Talking over the weekend, residence secretary Suella Braverman mentioned the federal government was in “negotiations” to safe their protected arrival.

Braverman informed Sky Information that Britons meaning to journey to harmful elements of the world ought to take the “utmost warning”. “If they’re going to try this they need to at all times act on the recommendation of the Overseas Workplace journey recommendation.”

She added that if the security of British residents overseas was put in danger, “the UK authorities goes to do no matter it takes to make sure that they’re protected”.

The Overseas Workplace mentioned on Monday: “We’re working exhausting to safe consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we’re supporting households.”

The report, which warned that hostage taking was a rising risk, beneficial the creation of a brand new authorities function, director for arbitrary and complicated detentions, to behave as some extent of contact for households and enhance co-ordination throughout Whitehall.

The MPs mentioned the federal government must also clearly define what measures it’s keen to make use of towards nations that detain Britons for “diplomatic leverage”, together with authorized proceedings and “Magnitsky-style sanctions” that concentrate on these answerable for human rights violations or corruption.

Committee chair and Tory MP Alicia Kearns mentioned some states “weaponise the citizenship of British nationals” with the intention to obtain their geopolitical objectives, including that the federal government should be “daring within the measures used” to return detainees.

“The federal government’s method to state-level hostage taking is failing British residents,” she mentioned. “Detainees and their households report ministerial clumsiness, critical and avoidable errors, and even callous and hurtful feedback to households.

 “Our report requires households to be handled as companions who’ve the potential to be instrumental in makes an attempt to resolve the detentions.”

In the course of the week of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s launch, the British authorities settled a £394mn debt owed to Iran over the acquisition of tanks courting again to earlier than the 1979 Islamic revolution. London has insisted that the 2 points weren’t related.

The report discovered there was “compelling proof” that the fee to Tehran was a “precondition” for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s launch, including that “failure” to pay sooner “was extremely regrettable” and “virtually definitely adversely affected the size of detention”.

The Overseas Workplace mentioned consular officers have been obtainable 24/7 for households to obtain tailor-made assist and ministers have been absolutely concerned in advanced circumstances.

“One of the best pursuits of British nationwide detainees is on the coronary heart of our consular work and we assist and work with their households wherever we are able to,” a spokesperson mentioned.

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