As the government
embarked on the final stage of considering $200m backing for the Ilisu Dam
project, Amnesty International published its Human Rights Audit 2001, which
highlights the failure of government departments to consider adequately the
Dam's regional human rights impact.
Campaigners against the dam have already been advised that UK support for the
dam could be in violation of the Human Rights Act.
Amnesty criticises the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for failing to
provide an assessment of the wider regional human rights impact of the Ilisu Dam,
beyond the issue of resettlement.
The failings of the departments involved were uncovered by the persistence of
the international development committee, who in their initial report on the
project expressed astonishment that the FCO did not raise any questions about
the proposed Ilisu Dam and its effects on the human rights of those living in
the region.This is a region Amnesty describes as "marked by serious human rights
The government criticised this aspect of the initial report, claiming the issue
of human rights had been considered. However, the International Development
Committee consulted the Parliamentary Ombudsman and obtained information on
interdepartmental correspondence. They found this information confirmed their
The government then rejected this further report, claiming that the ombudsman's
information did refer to advice having been given by the FCO on policy towards
the Kurds and human rights abuses. But Amnesty points out that this 'advice' was
actually the provision of "brief lines to take in response to correspondence
about the project". They state in the audit that:
"Amnesty International does not consider that advice on how to answer letters is
the same as an analysis of the dam's regional human rights impact."
They conclude that: "The FCO did not provide an analysis of the wider regional
human rights impact. This is a serious omission. DTI ministers and the ECGD also
deserve criticism for being passive consumers of human rights assessments from
other departments rather than proactive seekers of the fullest possible