Select Committee on Foreign Affairs First Special Report



SESSION 1999-2000

Recommendation 8

  The Government must take urgent steps to close whatever loopholes remain in the existing legislation because the continued export of such equipment [such as leg irons] from the UK weakens its ability to lobby against torture and the use of torture equipment. (Paragraph 20)

  110.  On 28 July FCO Minister Peter Hain announced to the House (Hansard column 1081W) that the Government had decided to introduce a control on individual "bracelet" cuffs having an internal perimeter when fully locked in excess of 165mm, and shackles (ie including handcuffs) made therewith. The relevant amendment to the Export of Goods (Control) Order has now been made.

  116.  We have continued to discuss with EU partners and the European Commission export controls on items that have been used for torture or other inhuman treatment. On 14 June the EU's Council of Ministers noted the European Commission's intention to bring forward a proposal for an instrument to control the export of certain non-military items from the EU for human rights reasons. It is envisaged that this proposal will be based on a working list of such items developed by the relevant EU Council bodies. At the request of the UK, the list includes electro-shock batons and restraints, leg-irons, gang-chains and shackles. We are also seeking the inclusion of individual bracelet cuffs in line with Mr Hain's announcement.

Recommendation 11

  We recommend that the Government work both bilaterally and with its European partners to ensure that the human rights elements of the EU's Partnership and Co-operation Agreements are fully respected. PCAs should have teeth and, when appropriate, the teeth should bite. States which consistently fail to meet their obligations should have their PCAs suspended. (Paragraph 25)

  112.  The Government endorses the opinion of the Committee that the EU should work to ensure that the human rights provisions of Partnership and Co-operation Agreements (PCAs) are implemented. The EU continues to take advantage of the PCA structures to ensure that human rights issues are raised at the highest levels.

  113.  The PCA with Russia created opportunities for the EU to increase pressure on the Russian Government over its policy in Chechnya through political dialogue at the highest levels including at the EU/Russia Summit and the Co-operation Councils. The EU also demonstrated its concern by restricting new work in Russia under TACIS—its technical assistance programme for the Former Soviet Union.

  114.  Human Rights and democracy are key elements in the EU's relations with all its PCA partners. Concerns about human rights and democracy were raised at the Co-operation Councils and Committees with Uzbekistan in February 2000, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in July 2000 and with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in October. The EU used these opportunities to raise specific concerns and made it clear that progress on strengthening democracy, freedom of speech and other fundamental rights underpin the further development of relations.

Recommendation 13

  We believe the Government should give the Bill [which would allow the United Kingdom to ratify the statute which will lead to the establishment of the International Criminal Court] greater priority. Given the FCO's evident eagerness to ratify the statute, we urge the business managers to let Mr Hain off his leash, to ensure that scrutiny of the draft Bill is concluded as soon as possible, to seek agreement with Opposition parties and to make time available for the passage through both Houses of this important Bill in this Session. (Paragraph 29)

  115.  The Government published the draft International Criminal Court Bill on 25 August for consultation. We have invited comments from, inter alia, the Foreign Affairs Committee, other interested Select Committees and Parliamentarians, NGOs, professional organisations and academics. The consultation period ends on 12 October after which the Government will introduce the Bill as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows.

Recommendation 14

  We expect this Green Paper [on mercenary activity] to be published by November 2000 in accordance with the time frame previously announced by the Government in its Reponse to our Report on Sierra Leone. (Paragraph 30)

  116.  Officials of relevant Government Departments are continuing to work on the preparation of a Green Paper on mercenary activity, in order to fulfil the Government's undertaking to publish such a paper by November 2000.

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