James Cleverly - British prisoners & human rights victims hold hope for new Foreign Minister
British prisoners who have felt abandoned by their government have new hope that former Minister for State James Cleverly will take a more hands on approach to helping Britons facing human rights violations abroad.
Having served as the Minister of State for the Middle East, Cleverly is in an excellent position to jump straight into dealing with the tasks at hand.
“We hope that the need for stronger alliances with the Middle East will not overshadow the British tradition of promoting principles of human rights abroad”, asserts Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai and host of the Gulf in Justice Podcast. “The best way to promote human rights is to intervene with and end any current and direct violations against British citizens in the region”.
A large group of Dubai prisoners recently criticised Liz Truss for her “complete abandonment”. One such prisoner is grandfather Albert Douglas, who was beaten by prison guards to the point of broken bones and permanent disability. Albert was jailed over a bounced cheque that he did not even write and has suffered the most egregious violations. Felicity Buchan, MP asked Ms Truss, MP in December to support Albert Douglas and Billy Hood but by June, the prisoners lost hope when Truss could not even remember their names.
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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been made directly aware of some outrageous judicial practices in the UAE, including in the case of Ryan Cornellius. Lord Clement-Jones wrote to Middle East and North Africa minister Mr Cleverly copying Mr Raab and Jeremy Hunt, labelling the 'plight of Ryan Cornelius and his family' as a 'matter of indifference' to the Foreign Office. Mr Cleverly responded denying Mr Cornelius' situation is a matter of indifference to the government department, saying: 'We have and will continue to provide consular assistance to Mr Cornelius in line with FCO policy.'
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“Providing consular assistance is not the same as rolling up your sleeves and solving an issue. We only need to look at how Priti Patel, MP jumped straight to the source (the UAE) to ensure Asa Hutchinson was sent home. Emma Lewell-Buck strongly advocated for Robert Irwin and Kenny McAskill was tireless with his support of Conor Howard. Crispin Blunt, MP has relentless pursued diplomatic assistance for Chris Emms this year.
“Canada worked extremely hard to get André Gauthier home and the US directly resolves cases of injustice. It’s embarrassing that the country with the most influence and understanding in the Middle East has previously washed their hands of anything that might help a person. It sends a message of weakness to our allies and gives them the green light to commit human rights violations. Such complacency resulted in the death of Lee Bradley Brown in custody”, explains Ms Stirling.
LEE BRADLEY BROWN| Detained in Dubai Lee Bradley Brown died in custody due to Dubai police brutality. 2021: Radha Stirling is giving evidence in new Inquest into his death.
The UAE and Qatar in particular, have become business and tourism centres for British nationals who are dangerously at risk of arbitrary detention, unfair trials and human rights violations. With the significant Gulf money flowing into British think tanks, media and lobbying affairs, the UK has refused to update travel warnings to citizens and has refused to get involved in what are violent incidents against British citizens while in detention. “This has to change”, says Stirling.
“With a new Foreign Secretary, comes refreshed hope from the desert prison cells. We will be closely assessing the new administration along with the APPG Parliamentary group for Gulf Rights. We have every hope that they will finally find the balance between trade deals and the rights of individual British citizens”.
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