UK likely to abandon human rights concerns in its rush for trade deals
News today (3 January 2021) that the government has agreed a comprehensive trade deal with Turkey has set alarm bells ringing about the future for human rights in further deals. Following our departure a few days ago from the EU, the government is trying hard to secure trade deals around the world to replace any problems which might occur limiting trade with them.
The human rights situation in Turkey is dire. Journalists and human rights defenders have been jailed on vague charges of the terrorism kind. Newspapers have been closed. Torture is common in police stations and there is a culture of impunity for the security forces. Thousands of people are denied work accused of being terrorists or aiding terrorists. Essentially the rule of law has all but broken down.
We do of course have to trade around the world and if we only did so with those with clean hands, business would be rather thin. We do not have to sell them arms however to make the region less stable and enhance the president Erdogan’s ability to control his people. Liz Truss’s unquestioning enthusiasm for a trade deal seemingly at any cost is to be deprecated.
Does regaining sovereignty mean selling anything to anyone?
Will this be repeated around the world with all sorts of regimes who mistreat their citizens, use torture routinely and are indifferent to human rights? Time will tell but it is to be hoped that the desire to secure deals at any price, no questions asked, does not become the norm. Is this what ‘regaining our sovereignty’ means? Freedom to sell arms and other sensitive materials to some of the world’s worse regimes?