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Kosovo

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral answer of 20 April 1999, Official Report, column 681, on Kosovo, if he will define the term "organised resistance"; and if he will make a statement. [82480]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I refer the hon Member to the statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 26 April 1999, Official Report, columns 21-36.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has

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received from his officials in Sri Lanka about mass graves at Chemanni and at the Jaffna football stadium; and if he will make a statement. [83125]

Mr. Fatchett: We are deeply concerned about reports that several hundred bodies of people who "disappeared" in army custody in 1996-97 may be in a mass grave at Chemmani in Jaffna. I raised this subject with the Sri Lankan authorities while I was in Colombo in November last year. Our High Commissioner in Colombo has pressed on numerous occasions for a prompt and thorough investigation. The magisterial inquiry into the mass graves will reconvene in mid-June.

We are aware of reports that a further mass grave was uncovered at the Duraiyappah football stadium in Jaffna in March. A preliminary investigation of the site took place on 7 April. We understand that further excavations will take place on 14 May. We will continue to monitor events closely.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what part the United Kingdom is to play in the international monitoring of the forthcoming elections in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. [83124]

Mr. Fatchett: The Southern Provincial Council elections are scheduled to take place on 10 June. These will not be subject to international monitoring. However, the UK is following the election process closely and will stay in touch with local election monitors.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests he has made to the Sri Lankan Government for information on the mass graves found in the Duraiyappah stadium in Jaffna; and if he will make a statement. [83127]

Mr. Fatchett: A preliminary investigation of the site took place on 7 April. We understand that further excavations will take place on 14 May. We will continue to monitor events closely.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will review the British Government's policy on the granting of export licences for arms sales to Sri Lanka. [83150]

Mr. Fatchett: Each licence application is considered scrupulously on a case by case basis against our national criteria and the EU Code of Conduct. We pay particular attention to the Sri Lankan Government's human rights record and its legitimate defence and domestic security interests. HMG do not issue licences if there is a clearly identifiable risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression or international aggression.

Human Rights

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria he uses to assess the human rights records of foreign Governments; and whether they include the number of disappeared people. [83126]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We assess the human rights records of all countries according to their adherence to, and implementation of, the standards laid down in international human rights instruments. As stated in the 1992 Declaration of the UN General Assembly on the Protection of All

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Persons from Enforced Disappearance, any act of enforced disappearance is a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed and developed in other international instruments. We support the work of the UN Working Group of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances which raises individual cases with Governments and reports annually to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Colombia

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Colombia concerning the abduction of human rights workers Julio Ernesto Gonzalez and Everado de Jesus Puertas in January. [82889]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: Julio Ernesto Gonzalez and Everado de Jesus Puerta were murdered on 30 January by suspected paramilitaries. Although our Embassy in Bogota raises specific cases with the Colombian Government, this case was not raised with them.

The Colombian authorities are, however, aware of our concern about the safety of all human rights activists in Colombia. We raise the subject of human rights on a regular basis with the Colombian Government, most recently when Vice-President Gustavo Bell called on me at the Foreign Office on 27 April.

Birth Certificates

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those purposes for which his Department and its executive agencies require a birth certificate to be furnished by (a) employees, (b) contractors, (c) those applying for employment or contracts and (d) others. [82898]

Mr. Fatchett: The Department requires those applying for employment to provide confirmation of their identity as part of the recruitment process. Most provide a passport. Contractors are required to provide confirmation of identity in order to obtain security clearance.

JMT Charlesworth

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the involvement of JMT Charlesworth Ltd. in the attempted transfer of military equipment from Belgium to Eritrea; and what discussions he has had with his (a) Belgian, (b) Dutch and (c) German counterparts in this matter. [83008]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) on 16 January 1999, Official Report, column 752.

We have had no subsequent Government to Government discussions with European partners over this matter but we continue to monitor this case.

Correspondence

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the delay in answering the hon. Member for Leicester, East's

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letter dated 8 March, concerning Mr. Solanki, of 49 Yorkshire Road, whose wife has been refused admission under reference R/98/3895. [82935]

Mr. Fatchett: I regret the delay in answering my hon. Friend's letter. This was caused by staff shortages in the Migration and Visa Division Correspondence Unit during the month of March.

Edgar Fernandes

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Ms Quin) will take up the case of Edgar Fernandes on her forthcoming visit to Malta. [82936]

Mr. Fatchett: My right hon. Friend is currently in Malta. She has been briefed on this case and will raise it. Our High Commissioner and Vice-Consul in Valletta continue to take every opportunity to remind the Maltese Government of our interest in the extradition of Mr. Mohammed Abdul Monem Abbas Aly.

British Council (Damascus)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 19 January 1999, Official Report, column 436, what was the cost of damage to the British Council offices in Damascus; and if it has been repaired. [83175]

Mr. Fatchett [holding answer 4 May 1999]: The cost of repairs to the damage to the British Council offices in Damascus was £90,000; the office has been repaired.

Peacekeeping (UN)

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 29 April 1999, Official Report, column 266, if he will identify the articles of the UN Charter where provision is made for those circumstances relating to justifiable use of force, in support of purposes laid down by the Security Council, but which are not subject to specific ratification by the Security Council. [83306]

Mr. Tony Lloyd [holding answer 4 May 1999]: There is no general doctrine of humanitarian necessity in international law. Cases have nevertheless arisen (as in Kosovo) when, in the light of all the circumstances, a limited use of force is justifiable under international law in support of purposes laid down by the Security Council but without the council's express authorisation when that is the only means to avert an immediate and overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe. Such cases would in the nature of things be exceptional and would depend on an objective assessment of the factual circumstances at the time and on the terms of relevant decisions of the Security Council bearing on the situation in question.


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