Olympics: UK to ban rights abuse leaders

2012-05-23 18:37
London - World leaders and politicians guilty of human rights abuses will be banned from entering Britain for the 2012 London Olympics, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"Entry will be refused where an individual's presence at the Games or in the UK would not be conducive to the public good," Jeremy Browne, minister of state at the Foreign Office, told parliament in a written statement.

"Where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses, the individual will not normally be permitted to enter the UK."

The announcement comes after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he was hoping to attend the London Olympics, which start on 27 July, but that British authorities were reluctant to allow him.

"I would like to be beside the Iranian athletes at the Olympic Games in London to support them, but [the British] have issues with my presence," Ahmadinejad said last week, according to Tehran's official news agency IRNA.

Browne added that all international visitors seeking to come to Britain for the Olympics and subsequent Paralympics would be subject to normal immigration controls, while anyone under a European Union or United Nations travel ban would also be barred.

Leaders including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Syria's Bashar al-Assad are banned from the European Union, while Britain has previously turned away politicians including Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders.

A sovereigns' lunch last week for Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee caused several diplomatic headaches for Britain, with protests over the attendance of the kings of Bahrain and Swaziland, whose regimes are accused of rights abuses.

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Read more on:    olympics 2012  |  robert mugabe  |  geert wilders  |  mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  bashar al-assad

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