The Human Rights and Democracy Report presents the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) analysis of the human rights situation in 27 countries where the UK government has wide-ranging concerns.
Countries Of Concern: Afghanistan / Belarus / Burma / Central African Republic / China / Colombia / Cuba / DPR Korea / DR Congo / Eritrea / Iraq / Islamic Republic of Iran / Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories / Libya / Pakistan / Russia / Saudi Arabia / Somalia / South Sudan / Sri Lanka / Sudan / Syria / Turkmenistan / Uzbekistan / Vietnam / Yemen / Zimbabwe
Assessed - the gravity of the human rights situation in these countries, including both the severity of particular abuses and the range of human rights affected;
whether a deterioration or improvement in the human rights situation in the country would have a wider impact in the region;
whether the human rights situation in the country has an impact on wider UK interests; and
whether we are able to influence the human rights situation.
The first of these criteria (gravity of the situation) is the most important assessment that we make, and is not affected by levels of UK interest or influence. In order to ensure that our analysis is strictly evidence-based, we introduced last year a list of internationally respected human rights indicators and indices. Our geographical departments and Embassies and High Commissions overseas assessed all the countries in their regions against these indicators and indices.
Having assessed the gravity of the human rights situation, we applied an analysis of the other criteria, including UK engagement and interests as a means of influencing change, to determine which countries, among all those where there are concerns about the human rights situation, should be the particular focus of Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) efforts. It is clearly important that we concentrate our resources on those countries where we can make most difference. Ministers then made the final decision on the list of countries of concern and country case studies to be included in this report.
Following the review process, Fiji was removed from the countries of concern category.
Country case studies were introduced in 2012 as a way to report on countries which do not meet the overall threshold for a country of concern, but which we judge nonetheless to be facing human rights challenges, or to be on a trajectory of change with regard to their human rights performance. While most such studies focus on countries with particular human rights challenges or on a negative trajectory, others were included because the analysis showed a positive change, or because we wanted to highlight a particular thematic issue. Some countries are subject to periodic in-year reporting to enable us to assess human rights trends and monitor developments.
This year, our country case studies are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda Egypt, Burundi, The Gambia, and Honduras. Following the events of 2014, we have also decided to treat the Crimea and separatist occupied areas of Ukraine as a country case study. We have also included a number of thematic case studies in relevant chapters of the report, for example, on freedom of religion or belief in South East Asia and political participation in Swaziland.
The list of 27 countries of concern (and country case studies showing a negative trajectory) does not represent an exhaustive list of countries where the UK believes improvements are needed on human rights. Although the countries on which we report here will remain our priorities for 2015, we continue to engage with many other countries on human rights issues, for example through dialogue and project work.
As in last year's report, we have listed the countries of concern in alphabetical order. We have ensured that each entry contains sections to reflect our priority thematic issues such as: elections, freedom of expression, torture prevention, women's rights and freedom of religion or belief. Other sub-headings are included where relevant.
We will continue to report on developments in the countries of concern online on a quarterly basis and raise our concerns about human rights issues wherever and whenever they occur. Any human rights events that have occurred in these countries since the cut-off point for this report (31 December 2014) will be covered in the next quarterly updates, due to be published in April 2015.
The full report can be found here