Britain Is Condemned on Human Rights in UN Report by, Wait for It, Iran, Russia and Cuba

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Byline: Jack Doyle Home Affairs Correspondent

A REVIEW of Britain's record on human rights was branded 'ludicrous' last night - for including criticisms from the governments of Iran, Russia and Cuba.

The United Nations report also contains scathing assessments of the UK from other countries notorious for their wholesale denial of human rights - among them Pakistan, Belarus and the Sudan.

Russia, where dissent is ruthlessly repressed and opponents of Vladimir Putin's regime are routinely murdered, attacked police in the UK for using 'excessive force' and said prisons here were tantamount to torture.

The Cuban government - which is notorious for locking up dissidents and repressing its opponents - claimed Britain's public spending cuts were damaging 'economic and social rights'.

The comments were made in a Universal Periodic Review report, an assessment organised by the United Nations' Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly members are permitted to contribute to the report, which is published on every member state every four years.

Critics said the UN was undermining its credibility by allowing nations with serious human rights violations to hijack the process.

Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said: 'This is actually so ridiculous it's laughable. It is like being lectured by Attila the Hun on the peaceful co-existence of nations. All we need now is Syria to criticise us on our human rights record and the joke would be complete.

'The UN should be a serious organisation and comments like this damage its credibility both in this country and around the world.'

As part of the review process a delegation including British minister Lord McNally and more than 20 officials went to Geneva last month. He had to endure more than an hour of questioning by delegates from other states on this country's human rights record.

In public comments he was diplomatic, saying Britain was 'proud of its human rights record' but admitting there was 'room for improvement'.

Among the countries which compiled the draft report was Angola, which has faced criticism from Amnesty International over its treatment of political prisoners.

It also included criticism from Algeria and Sudan, on wage differences between men and women in the UK.

But the comments which will provoke most scorn come from Russia, which attacked police in the UK for frequently using 'excessive force' to deal with demonstrations, and claimed conditions in British prisons 'amounted to torture'.

Russia is accused of allowing widespread torture by police and security officials and extra-judicial killings. Human rights observers criticised the conditions in which elections were held there in March, with severe restrictions on opponents of president Mr Putin.

Belarus, a rogue state run like a Soviet-era autocracy, accused Britain of 'systematic use of torture' and attacked the criminal age of responsibility in this country, which it said was too low at ten years old. Cuba's representative said 'children, persons with disabilities, women, migrants, minorities and indigenous populations were marginalised and disadvantaged on a daily basis' in Britain.

The Pakistani delegate - from a country where the security services are held responsible for 'disappearances' and arbitrary execution - said the Government here 'should be more proactive in promoting multiculturalism'. …