Livingstone MP Hannah Bardell, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance, recently challenged both the FCDO and UK government to make radical changes to the current service.
The debate had the support of more than 36 MPs including former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and families who gave evidence to the APPG’s 2019 report.
Angus MP Dave Doogan said that if a UK citizen is murdered, killed or imprisoned overseas, their family naturally expects the Foreign Office to help them, which tends not to be the case.
Speaking before the debate, hesai d: “They quickly learn they have no legal right to consular assistance, at a time when their ability to navigate or deal with such a complex situation is naturally diminished due to the trauma of the event.
“Today I and other MPs will call on the UK government to support the FCDO to take practical steps towards improving consular services, including: enshrine in law the right to consular assistance; give parity for murder victims overseas with terrorist victims overseas and expand the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme accordingly; provide clarity on consular policy and assistance currently in place; and clearly signpost to specialist legal support in the UK following a death or serious injury overseas.”
Mr Doogan said that his own experience of supporting constituents in Angus was that the FCDO needs to change its approach.
He continued: “The Foreign Office must recalibrate its advice to people thinking of visiting, working or relocating to what are in fact potentially very dangerous jurisdictions such as Thailand.
“The UK government has an opportunity to set a world-leading example of how a state should treat its citizens in their hour of need. Currently Foreign Office advice and support to families of people who have died is suspicious circumstances is utterly woeful.It must not remain the sole responsibility of grieving families to fight for their loved ones’ rights overseas.”