Local MP speaks out for human rights in Parliament

October 16, 2007 11:19 AM

Mark speaking out for human rights in Parliament

Mark Hunter MP for the Cheadle Constituency and Liberal Democrat deputy Foreign Affairs Spokesperson yesterday spoke out in Parliament to condemn human rights abuses around the world.

The debate featured the Foreign Affairs Select Committees Annual Report on Human Rights, and the Governments response to the report. During the debate, Mr Hunter, speaking for the Liberal Democrats covered a wide range of topics including cluster munitions, Burma, China, Iraq and Zimbabwe.

Mr Hunter opened his contribution by discussing the UK's policy regarding cluster munitions. He pointed out that the Government has recently signed the Oslo declaration banning what they have termed "dumb" cluster bombs, but have not promised to stop using other cluster bombs. Mr Hunter joined the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in criticising this policy saying that it was inconsistent and that all cluster bombs should be banned because they are "indiscriminate, ineffective and have a devastating impact on civilians".

Among the many topics covered, Mr Hunter also spoke about the deteriorating human right situation in Iraq, including the 34,000 civilians killed in the last year (UN estimate), two million displaced people and increased level of violence towards women; criticising the Government for their lack of exit and post-fighting strategy before entering the region.

Speaking after the debate Mark Hunter said; "Maintaining human rights across the world is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges facing the world today, but it is one from which we cannot turn our backs. This debate highlighted for me the progress that still needs to be made to improve human rights throughout the world.

The dreadful events this months in Burma brought to the attention of the world the fact that many people live without the basic rights which we enjoy. We must do all that we can to help promote human rights worldwide, and apply all the pressure possible to regimes such as the Burmese and Chinese Governments to improve their human rights record. Events such as those occurring in Burma and the Olympics in China give the British Government the perfect opportunity to press the respective Governments on these issues whilst the eyes of the world media are watching them. The British Government cannot let these opportunities pass them by; we have a responsibility to improve human rights wherever abuses are committed."

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