SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has paid tribute to families in West Dunbartonshire during a debate in the House of Commons calling for better consular assistance for UK citizens experiencing trauma abroad.
Local MP Docherty-Hughes – who is Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance – cited West Dunbartonshire’s Lisa Brown and Jagtar Singh Johal as examples of where the UK Foreign Office has let down local families.Lisa Brown, from Alexandria, has been missing in Spain since 2015 and is sadly presumed dead. Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, has been held in arbitrary detention in India for more than 4 years without formal charge.
Their families have both been receiving support from local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, who has challenged the UK government to drastically improve the consular services of British citizens who have either been murdered, died in suspicious circumstances, imprisoned, or tortured overseas.
A report published by the APPG on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance details evidence provided by 60 families across the UK – including those of Lisa Brown and Jagtar Singh Johal – calling for radical changes to the current service provided by the Foreign Office.
SNP MPs – including Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston, who secured the debate in Parliament – have been leading calls for a right to consular assistance to be enshrined in law.
Speaking in the Commons, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“I have to be very clear—there has been a lack of political leadership on this issue. I have lost count of the number of Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretaries and Under-Secretaries we have had, not only in Jagtar’s case but in every other case that the report mentions. In the last four years, we have seen three Prime Ministers, five Foreign Secretaries and three Under-Secretaries. That demonstrates the issue of political leadership.
“I pay tribute to the families: to Lisa Brown’s family and to Jagtar Singh Johal’s family. What all the families in the report understand is the requirement to consider the enshrinement in law of the right to consular assistance.”
“I hope the Minister for the UK Foreign Office will understand that it comes from a place of wanting to work together, so that no other family is left without access to appropriate support, that no other person is left in a hospital dead with their family having to have crowdfunders to bring them home, and that families are met if they are going to visit someone in prison, whether it be in the Republic of India, Iran, Australia or the United States.
“I commend my hon. friend the SNP MP for Livingston Hannah Bardell for securing this important debate in the House of Commons.”
An extract from Martin’s speech in the House of Commons can be viewed here: