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6 Nov 2002 : Column 328Wcontinued
Mr. Mike O'Brien: All recruitment to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. This is in line with the Civil Service Commissioners' Recruitment Code. It means that all applicants are treated equally regardless of age, gender or marital status, ethnic origin or disability.
There are upper age limits for application to join the Diplomatic Service. Applicants must be able to complete at least one overseas tour before the normal retirement age. This allows us to achieve a sensible return on recruitment and training costs.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of human rights abuse in Zimbabwe; if he will list the human rights abuses perpetrated in Zimbabwe that have been (a) reported to and (b) investigated by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: Zimbabwe's human rights record is appalling. In its latest report on political violence dated 9 October, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum recorded 223 cases of abduction/kidnapping, 7 of rape, 1057 of torture and 58 of murder, in the period 1 January to 30 September 2002. Most of the violence has been perpetrated by Zimbabwe's ruling party, ZANU(PF). The vast majority of victims are opposition supporters, or those suspected of being such.
The international community, including the UK, has consistently condemned these abuses and called on the Zimbabwe Government to respect their obligations under international human rights conventions. The EU, the US and others have imposed targeted sanction on the Mugabe regime and the Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe from its Councils.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the adequacy of food supplies in Zimbabwe; what steps he has taken to monitor the future availability of adequate food supplies for the population of Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: The food situation in Zimbabwe remains of serious concern. We, and other donors, are doing all we canthrough the UN World Food Programme and Non-Governmental Organisationsto ensure that international aid reaches the needy regardless of their political views. There is credible evidence however that other sources of food, controlled by the ZANU PF regime, are being used in support of its political objectives. We deplore this, as well as the obstruction of the work of certain Non-Governmental Organisations, which also appears to be politically motivated.
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Mr. Rammell: The prospects for foreign investment in Zimbabwe are poor. Figures show that it has declined by 99 per cent. since 1998. The reasons are obvious. Zimbabwe is one of the world's fastest shrinking economies. It has lost the support of major donors and international financial institutions. Its skilled labour force, faced with over 70 per cent. unemployment, food shortages and 140 per cent. inflation, is leaving the country. On top of this, the current regime in Harare has undermined the rule of law and the right to hold private property.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list by country the projects funded by his Department under the Global Conflict Prevention Pool and the amount given to each. 
Mr. Rammell: The Global Conflict Prevention Pool is run jointly by FCO, MOD and DFID. The Pool is divided into strategies, some of which cover regions or themes and some cover specific countries as listed below.
Within these strategies there is a wide range of projects. A report on the operation of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool will be published after the end of its first two years of operation in May 2003.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the criteria are for the disbursement of funds from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool to (a) Macedonia, (b) Kosovo, (c) Bosnia, (d) Indonesia and (e) East Timor; how much was allocated from the pool for the purchase of equipment to each in (i) 2001 and (ii) 2002; and if he will make a statement. 
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The GCPP's programme funds are disbursed to strategies agreed by the Ministerial committee responsible for managing the Pool. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her today (UIN 79560) which provides a full list of the current strategies and their allocations.
Activity in Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia is funded from the Balkans strategy. This strategy has four strands: Access to Justice, Strengthening Democracy and Inter-Ethnic relations, Security Sector Reform and Countering Organised Crime.
Activity in Indonesia and East Timor is covered by the Indonesia/East Timor strategy. This strategy is divided into three strands: Security Sector Reform in Indonesia, Conflict Reduction in Indonesia and Conflict Prevention in East Timor.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what equipment will be purchased with the money (a) allocated to logistical equipment, (b) allocated to communications equipment and (c) for equipment in support of military intelligence for Nepal under the Global Conflict Prevention Pool. 
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Mr. Denham: At the request of the Association of Chief Police Officers, which believes that the improved accuracy of the L21A1 baton round means it is suitable for use in serious public disorder and also in dealing with individuals posing an immediate threat to life in circumstances where use of a conventional firearm may otherwise be necessary, we have sought and received a medical statement from the Defence Scientific Advisory Council on the use of the L21A1 baton round at ranges from 1 to 19 metres. This supplements their earlier assessment of the injury potential over longer ranges published on 2 April 2001.
The statement confirms that the probability of unintentional impact to the most vulnerable parts of the body remains low when the round is discharged at ranges of less than 20 metres and that there is no significant change in the probability of rounds striking the potentially vulnerable chest area. This means that the likelihood of serious injury or death occurring as the result of the impact of an L21A1 baton round is no greater at ranges between 1 and 19 metres than at the longer ranges which were the subject of the earlier statement by the Defence Scientific Advisory Council.
I will today be placing a copy of the statement in the Library. The Association of Chief Police Officers is considering, in consultation with the Government, what, if any revision to its existing guidelines on the use of baton rounds may be appropriate in the light of this statement.
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