The British government on Monday announced that non-European Union citizens accused of serious human rights abuses would not be allowed to enter Britain as it vowed to put “protection and promotion” of democracy and rule of law at the “heart” of its foreign policy.

The new rule, included in the Foreign Office's annual Human Rights Report, says that in cases where there is “independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses, the individual will not normally be permitted to enter the United Kingdom”.

“Britain welcomes visitors from around the world…but not those who have perpetrated human rights abuses. Foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area may only come to the United Kingdom if they satisfy the requirements of the Immigration Rules. Where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses, the individual will not normally be permitted to enter the United Kingdom,” it says.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the government was “determined to pursue every opportunity to promote human rights and political and economic freedom around the world” and announced an extra £1.5 million of funding on “promoting freedom of expression online”.

He also announced a 30-per-cent increase in the Foreign Office's budget for democracy and human rights for the coming year. It would be devoted to projects to promote freedom of expression online in 28 “countries of concern”, including Pakistan, mentioned in the report.

Pakistan, a concern

The report says that despite some “positive steps” the human rights situation in Pakistan continues to be a matter of concern with allegations of widespread rights abuses. These include “allegations of torture and attacks on freedom of religion or belief”.

“Human rights will remain a priority for the U.K.'s engagement with Pakistan, and we will continue to intervene on human rights issues in Pakistan where we believe we can make a positive difference,” it says.

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