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Government 'too timid' in Sri Lanka summit approach

The Government was too "timid" in its approach to allowing a prestigious Commonwealth summit to take place in Sri Lanka next month despite concerns over human rights in the country, MPs have said.

The cross-party group said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should have taken a "more robust stance" over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place in Colombo and will be attended by the Prime Minister.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said David Cameron should seek assurances from the authorities in Sri Lanka that anyone who raises human rights concerns with him at the meeting in Colombo will not face reprisals from the security forces.

Concern over UK arms exports to repressive countries

Over 3,000 export licenses for the sale of arms and other military equipment to states on the Foreign Office's countries of human rights concern have been issued, MPs have found.

Over 3,000 export licenses have been issued to countries of concern. Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The combined value of the licenses, which remain in force, came to more than £12 billion, according to the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC).

Iran, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Belarus are among the countries who have been issued licenses.

There are only two nations out of the 27 on the Foreign Office's list of concern that do not hold valid licenses - North Korea and South Sudan.

The CAEC said the numbers were "surprisingly large" but acknowledged many of the licences were for dual-use items (military or civilian).

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UK takes migrant children responsibilities 'seriously'

The UK takes its international responsibilities to children seriously and their welfare is at the heart of every decision made.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are always given individual support and reassurance from those in social services and immigration.

Age assessments are vital in ensuring that children and adults are treated appropriately as unfortunately adults claim to be children in order to access this specialist support.

Rightly, local authorities are responsible for making this decision - as they need to make sure that adults are not placed in accommodation with vulnerable children.

– Home Office spokeswoman

Migrant children 'are some of the most vulnerable'

Unaccompanied migrant children in the asylum and immigration processes are some of the most vulnerable young people in the United Kingdom.

They have often fled conflict situations abroad or have been victims of abuse and exploitation, including those who arrive as victims of trafficking.

It is crucial that they are supported effectively. We do not find it satisfactory that immigration concerns are too often given priority when dealing with such children, in doing so the UK is falling short of the obligations it owes to such children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

– Joint Committee on Human Rights chairman Dr Hywel Francis MP

Children seeking safety in UK 'face culture of disbelief'

A group of MP and peers have said Britain is falling short of obligations set out under international law for dealing with migrant children.

According to a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

  • In 2012, around 1,200 such children sought asylum in the UK, and around 2,150 unaccompanied migrant children were being cared for by local authorities.
  • Children who had often faced traumatic journeys faced intensive interviews on arrival.
  • There was also evidence of children being placed in inappropriate accommodation without suitably trained staff
  • A lack of support was "starkly" demonstrated by the "culture of disbelief" about the age of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
  • It found that the age of unaccompanied migrant children is too often disputed, putting their welfare and best interests at risk.
  • MPs also said decisions on children's futures are too often delayed until they approach adulthood, leaving children uncertain about what their futures will hold.

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Britain 'is failing unaccompanied migrant children'

Britain is failing to dealing with migrant children who arrive in the country without parents or relatives, a group of parliamentarians has warned.

The UK is failing migrant children, MPs have said. Credit: PA

Immigration concerns are too often given priority over the protection of migrant children, including abuse victims and those who have fled conflict zones, MPs say.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said the UK is as a result failing to meet the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty bound by international law.

It also calls on the Government not to return any children to Afghanistan or Iraq while conflict and humanitarian concerns persist.

PM 'prepared to consider all options' to deport Qatada

Asked if the option of temporary withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights was currently under consideration, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said:

As the Home Secretary was setting out, there are two things that the Government is very clearly and actively taking forward. There is the treaty-related process and there is the seeking of permission to appeal from the Supreme Court.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to consider all options should that be necessary? Absolutely, yes... This is a very dangerous individual. I think people would rightly expect that, should it be necessary, consideration is given to all options.

The Government believes the treaty will deliver the protections required by Siac (the Special Immigration Appeals Commission) to secure Qatada's deportation.

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