Protecting UK nationals at risk abroad

REDRESS is working on a new project to strengthen UK government support of its nationals arbitrarily detained abroad and at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

The UK government currently uses a policy of discretion in order to determine whether to initially provide support, for example, consular assistance, for a national in distress overseas as well as the strength of the representations it makes.

It is a decision-making process that lacks transparency and cannot be held accountable. It also means that there can often be a gap between what you would expect the UK government to do, and what it actually does.

We believe that the UK should adopt a “default position” and make it known that any risk of the torture or ill-treatment of its nationals will always have consequences.

We advocate with family members of detainees to encourage greater assistance to them and seek greater parliamentary oversight of consular cases involving a risk of torture and ill-treatment.

We are currently supporting several British nationals and their families to seek their release, and, pending release, to have their conditions of detention improved.

These include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe  in Iran and Andargachew “Andy” Tsege in Ethiopia.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found them all to be arbitrarily detained in violation of international law and has called for their immediate release. All have been referred to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for appropriate action.

In each of these cases, the UK government is in a position to pursue further diplomatic action both publicly and privately.


  • Click here to read our latest blog post on the provision of consular assistance as published in Bright Blue.
  • Read our joint NGO letter to the European Parliament Delegation for Iran regarding the situation of detained dual nationals here.
  • For the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, REDRESS shared the stories of those whose lives have been affected by torture and ill-treatment. Watch our first video, Bring Nazanin Home, where Nazanin’s husband Richard speaks about the ongoing campaign to #FreeNazanin
  • On 18 July 2017, more than 50 MPs debated the situation of British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran. Watch the debate in full here.

In November 2017, REDRESS, together with the #FreeNazanin campaign called on the UK to exercise diplomatic protection in Nazanin’s case. It is our view that the UK Government must treat Nazanin’s case as a legal matter in which her rights have been violated, and seek a remedy, i.e. her immediate return to the UK. See our press release here.

 Download our latest briefing paper: The right to protection for British nationals arbitrarily detained abroad and facing serious violations of their rights: Moving from discretion to default