The UK government is “failing British citizens” in its handling of state-level hostage-taking, the chairman of a multi-party parliamentary group has said following its inquiry into arbitrary detention.

The report, published by the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee on Tuesday, called on ministers to take a “zero tolerance approach” to politically motivated capture and imprisonment, which MPs say pose a threat. for the rules-based international order.

In recent years, the government has come under intense scrutiny for its handling of detainees following the UK-Iran dual nationality case. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffewho was arrested in Iran on espionage charges in April 2016 and returned to the UK in March 2022.

Following the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her British-Iranian colleague Anoosheh Ashoori, the committee launched its inquiry into the government’s approach to the hostage situation in the state in July 2022.

The report criticized the government’s record in communicating with the families of detainees and condemned the “inconsistency of approach” within the Foreign Office, citing a “high turnover of ministers and officials”.

The report comes as charity worker Kevin Cornwell and two other British citizens are being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Speaking over the weekend, Interior Minister brave sole he said the government was in “negotiations” to ensure his safe arrival.

Braverman told Sky News that Britons intending to travel to dangerous parts of the world should exercise the “utmost caution”. “If they are going to do that, they should always act on the travel advice of the Foreign Office.”

He added that if the safety of British citizens abroad were to be put at risk, “the UK government will do whatever it takes to ensure their safety.”

The Foreign Office said on Monday: “We are working hard to ensure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting the families.”

The report, which warned that hostage-taking was a growing threat, recommended the creation of a new government role, director of complex and arbitrary detentions, to act as a point of contact for families and improve coordination in Whitehall.

MPs said the government should also clearly outline what measures it is prepared to use against countries that detain Britons for “diplomatic influence”, including legal proceedings and “Magnitsky-style sanctions” targeting those responsible for human rights violations or corruption. .

Committee chair and Tory MP Alicia Kearns said some states “weaponized the citizenship of British citizens” to achieve their geopolitical goals, adding that the government should be “bold in the measures used” to return detainees.

“The government’s approach to state-level hostage-taking is failing British citizens,” he said. “The detainees and their families denounce ministerial clumsiness, serious and avoidable errors, and even insensitive and hurtful comments to the families.

“Our report calls for families to be treated as partners who have the potential to be instrumental in attempts to resolve detentions.”

During the week of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s liberation, the British government settled a £394m debt owed to Iran for the purchase of tanks dating from before the 1979 Islamic revolution. London has insisted the two issues were not connected.

The report found that there was “compelling evidence” that payment to Tehran was a “precondition” for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, adding that “failing to” pay beforehand “was highly regrettable” and “almost certainly negatively affected the length of detention”.

The Foreign Ministry said that consular officers were available 24/7 for families to receive personalized support and that ministers were fully involved in complex cases.

“The best interests of detained British nationals are at the heart of our consular work and we support and work with their families wherever we can,” a spokesperson said.

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