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Amnesty International publishes criticism of the FCO, the DTI and the ECGD for their treatment of the human rights impact of the proposed Ilisu dam.

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 abuses".

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 original conclusions.

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 information".

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