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Ethiopia: Human Rights

Volume 631: debated on Thursday 23 November 2017

6. Whether he received a briefing on human rights in Ethiopia from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before his recent visit to that country. (902506)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for policy on human rights across the whole of Government. The UK has a strong history of protecting human rights and promoting our values globally. We will continue to encourage all states to uphold international human rights obligations, including when we meet them both in the UK and on overseas visits.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. I am going to put to the test the statement he made a few seconds ago—that the UK always promotes human rights in trade talks. Did he raise the case of Andy Tsege, and the prison visit that the UK Government have promised, with his Ethiopian counterparts? What progress is being made on releasing him?

In my official meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, we discussed the need for long-term political and economic stability, as well as the political space. We did, indeed, raise the consular case mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman in private and with our ambassador. I hope that we will see the results of that interaction soon.

I declare an interest as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Ethiopia. Does the Secretary of State agree that the work of Her Majesty’s ambassador in Addis Ababa is really tremendous—she has arranged for visits and has personally visited Andy Tsege—but that the situation needs to come to an end? At the same time, will he acknowledge the work that the Ethiopian Government are doing with the Department for International Development to try to get more than 1 million refugees throughout the country into work in a jobs compact?

It is always the aim of our Government to get other Governments to replicate our values in a clear and practical way. I second my hon. Friend’s vote of thanks to our ambassador for the work that she and her staff are doing. He makes a valid point that we need to take into consideration some of the extreme pressures that some countries are under. Taking 1 million refugees is not an easy task for the most developed country, never mind a country such as Ethiopia that is moving forward in development.