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Development: Promoting the Rule of Law

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 26 October 2021

The UK is committed to being a force for good in the world, which includes upholding the rule of law. We promote the rule of law through our policy and programme engagement, which includes the UK’s Rule of Law Expertise Programme. That engages with stakeholders across the legal, judicial and development sectors, and is currently working in Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

For many poor people around the world, lack of access to justice is their biggest issue. If someone is too frightened to go to school because they think they will be raped on the way, or too scared to develop their smallholding because they think someone will steal the land, it will be much more difficult to escape poverty. What proportion of our development spending goes on ensuring easy access to a robust criminal justice system for the global poor?

My hon. Friend is a true campaigner for freedom, human rights and, as we have heard, access to justice. Many of the UK’s programmes contribute directly or indirectly towards access to justice, and we therefore do not quantify the exact proportion of our development spending in that area. The UK remains a world leader in international development, and we use our aid budget to strengthen democratic institutions, defend human rights, champion free media, and promote effective governance.

I am sure the Minister agrees that reports that the Turkish Government are to expel many of our allies’ ambassadors from the country, after they rightly raised concerns about the ongoing slide in civil liberties and freedom of expression, are extremely worrying. We simply must not hang our allies out to dry. Given that Turkey is a key NATO ally, will the Minister join us in finally making clear, as she has not publicly in the past, that the UK will not accept any further attempts to undermine civil liberties, and that we stand with the 10 countries whose representation in Turkey has been affected by such a provocative act?

We are very pleased that Turkey and the 10 countries concerned have found a way to resolve this diplomatic crisis. We will continue to work closely with Turkey, which is a very important NATO ally, and we will continue to work with other key partners to strengthen the productive ties with Turkey from which we all benefit.