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Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to assist in providing information to relatives in the UK about the condition of detainees who are British nationals held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Following the visit of British officials to the three detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials passed messages from the detainees to their families about their health. Officials are in regular contact with those family representatives who wish to be in contact. The ICRC remains the most appropriate body for passing messages to and from the detainees. The organisation has a special role under the Geneva Conventions to do so. The ICRC also has a presence on the base in Guantanamo Bay and is permitted to visit each detainee privately.
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Mr. MacShane: The ICRC have informed us that they have access to all known places of detention in Afghanistan, both those under the control of the Afghan authorities and those under the control of US forces.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what logistical support is being offered by Her Majesty's Government to the Afghan Government to assist in the detention of prisoners. 
Mr. Bradshaw: HMG are not offering any logistical support to the Afghan Government to assist in the detention of prisoners. However, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development gave her on 5 February 2002, Official Report, column 913Wquestion number 33607.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he anticipates the evaluation of the fungus, pleospora papaveracea, will be communicated to him by the United Nations Drugs Control Project; whether it is being used prior to the communication of the research results; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: It is expected that the research, set up by the UNDCP in 1998, to establish the potential of pleospora papaveracea as an opium poppy control agent will not be evaluated until later this year. Pleospora, which is a naturally occurring fungus, has not been used as a means of eradicating poppy cultivation. The research programme ended in the summer of 2001.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the activities of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia in relation to human rights abuses in Colombia; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: We receive regular reports from the British embassy in Bogota, the Colombian Government, NGOs and others about the murderous activities of the so-called Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). The AUC commits a large proportion of the human rights abuses in Colombia.
We continue to urge the Colombian Government to strengthen their efforts to combat paramilitaries, including the AUC, and to take concrete action to dismantle such groups by arresting, prosecuting and punishing those involved. I raised this problem with the Colombian Government during a visit to Colombia last October.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the activities of Dyncorp in recruiting mercenaries for action in Colombia in relation to the Government's policy with regard to that country; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. MacShane: We have made no assessment of the activities in Colombia of Dyncorp, which is a privately owned US company. Central to our policy towards Colombia is the promotion and protection of human rights, and support for the peace process instigated by President Andres Pastrana.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what involvement British embassy officials in Bogota have in protecting and ensuring the safety of UK citizens who are (a) in the Peace Brigades International in Colombia and (b) prepared to try to shield Colombian citizens from violence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: As I made clear in my written answer on 23 January 2002, Official Report, column 885W, we strongly support the activities of human rights workers in Colombia, including representatives of Peace Brigades International (PBI). I met a number of human rights defenders, including PBI, during my visit to Colombia last October.
PBI routinely inform the British embassy in Bogota of their travel and accompanying plans, which the embassy checks against the information available to them to determine if an exceptional risk is involved. Should the embassy have such information they would advise PBI not to travel to that location. Embassy staff have given PBI their personal mobile telephone numbers and are thus available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The embassy has intervened to assist PBI in gaining access to key Colombian officials.
The Colombian Government have a protection programme for their nationals who are at severe threat from illegal armed groups. The Colombian Government provide bodyguards, protected vehicles and equipment to protect the homes and offices of human rights workers, and trade union leaders.
Peter Hain: I refer my right hon. Friend to the reply given by the Foreign Secretary to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) on 14 January 2002, Official Report, columns 2829.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many official EU observers were admitted to Zimbabwe by (a) 3 February and (b) 5 February; and when each invitation requesting their presence from President Mugabe was received. 
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Mr. Straw [holding answer 11 February 2002]: Four EU representatives, were deployed in Zimbabwe by 3 February, as the first phase of the EU observation mission. Three of these officials were already in Zimbabwe, while the fourth arrived on 3 February. The leader of the EU Mission, Pierre Schori, arrived in Zimbabwe on 10 February but has not yet received accreditation. An official letter to the EU about the deployment of observers from Foreign Minister Mudenge, was sent on 4 February.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2002, Official Report, column 722, on which day the four representatives to which he referred arrived in Zimbabwe. 
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2002, Official Report, column 722, on Zimbabwe, for what reasons British observers are not included in the EU observation mission. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Tan Sri Razali Ismail is doing an excellent job as the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to Burma. The Foreign Secretary met him last year and assured him of our full support for his efforts to promote national reconciliation among all the peoples of Burma. Foreign Office officials remain in regular contact with him.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what actions he plans to take against the Burmese Government over their treatment of the Karen people in Burma. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The UK has been at the forefront of the international community's efforts to press for human rights, national reconciliation and democracy in Burma. The EU Common Position on Burma contains measures targeting the military authorities (such as a visa ban and asset freeze on regime members, an arms embargo, a ban on items that can be used for torture and a ban on non-humanitarian assistance). In addition we do not encourage trade, investment or tourism with Burma. In response to concerns over forced labour, the European Commission suspended Burma's Generalised System of Preferences trading privileges in 1997. These measures will remain in place until there is firm evidence of political progress in Burma.
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John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many representations his Department has received from (a) hon. Members and (b) others regarding the situation of the Karen people in Burma. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Records are only available to show the number of letters we receive about Burma issues in general. However the plight of the Karen people is a consistent theme in letters the Foreign Office receives from hon. Members and members of the public. Since January 2001, the Foreign Office has received over 200 letters about Burma from Members of Parliament and over 1,800 letters from members of the public.
Mr. Bradshaw: Since the beginning of 2001 there has been a modest improvement in the political and human rights situation in Burma. Mr. Razali Ismail is doing an excellent job in promoting national reconciliation in Burma.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation of refugees who have left Burma and set up camp in Sangklaburi, Thailand. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The closest camp to Sangklaburi is Ban Don Yang. It hosts around 3,900 refugees. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who provide assistance to the refugees there believe the conditions are generally satisfactory, though not perfect as it is quite isolated and very close to the border. Foreign diplomatic staff including from the British embassy in Bangkok also visit the camp.
DfID has significantly increased UK funding this year for the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Commission for the Red Cross and the Burmese Border Consortium for their work with Burmese refugees.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) Karen, (b) Karenni and (c) Shan people are estimated to have left Burma following their treatment by the Burmese military. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Just over 125,000 Burmese refugees live in camps on the Thai/Burmese border, nearly all of whom are from Karen and Karenni states, although exact figures on ethnic background are not kept. In addition there are a large number of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. Again exact figures are not known, but estimates range form 500,000 to 2 million.
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