I would like to inform the House that I have today published revised guidance concerning overseas security and justice assistance (OSJA).
The need for UK security and justice assistance overseas is growing. Our expertise is highly valued across the world and improves the standards and capabilities of law enforcement and security agencies operating in the most challenging environments. Through this work we aim to improve the lives of people in the world’s most insecure regions, by enhancing the abilities of states to uphold the rule of law. However, it is important that we ensure that the skills and expertise we impart are not used to cause harm. The OSJA guidance is HMG’s tool for assessing the human rights risks of our overseas security and justice assistance work and identifying measures to mitigate those risks.
The OSJA guidance was first published in December 2011 by my predecessor, the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Hague of Richmond, and revised in 2014. I am proud that the new OSJA process will remain the most comprehensive and demanding tool of its type anywhere in the world. The document I am publishing today renews our commitment to take every reasonable step to identify and reduce the risk that we will inadvertently do harm when assisting overseas. It restates our commitment to proper oversight by Ministers of all assistance projects which carry serious risk.
The revised procedure today draws on five years of experience in applying the guidance. The changes in this version include a more rigorous risk assessment; clearer guidance on the role of the UK’s overseas network and of HMG Departments and agencies outside the FCO; and more detail on how to conduct the process in complex situations, for instance when several Departments are working together on the same project. It also provides for officials already deployed overseas who are caught in exceptional circumstances (such as an unfolding terrorist attack) to act immediately within the spirit of the guidance to protect the public or safeguard the integrity of evidence provided that the full documentation follows within 24 hours. Finally the new procedure includes measures which will allow more public scrutiny of the OSJA process within this Department’s annual human rights report.
The update will be available on gov.uk. My officials will continue to monitor the implementation of the guidance and propose revisions from time to time.
Attachments can be viewed online at:
House of Commons Hansard
26 January 2017