A new clause has been introduced in the immigration rules that will see human rights abuses considered during UK visa applications.
From today, non-European citizens accused of serious human rights violations may be banned from entering the country. This marks a change from the previous ruling, which could only ban foreign nationals for human rights abuses if they were perceived as a threat to national security.
The change was part of the annual Human Rights Report, released by foreign secretary William Hague. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was also instrumental in driving through the change, having been a strong advocate on human rights.
The new rule states that foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area may only come to the UK if they satisfy UK immigration requirements. It continues: "Where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committee human rights abuses, the individual will not normally be permitted to enter the UK."
However, in practice, the ruling will not result in a blanket ban on all human rights abusers as negotiations will need to take place for foreign officials and heads of state who need to. It is likely that these individuals will still be granted visiting UK visas if their trip is seen as part of a policy of engagement on human rights.
While there are still a number of areas to be ironed out, the changes have largely been welcomed. Shami Charabarti, director of Liberty, cautioned that the "devil is in the detail", but said: "Given the understandable outrage when it becomes difficult to deport undesirables, it is common sense to apply greater scrutiny before allowing people accused of grave crimes from entering the UK in the first place."