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8 Jan 2003 : Column 263W—continued

Douglas Grindlay

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance Her Majesty's Ambassador to Berlin is giving to Mr.Douglas Grindlay. [88565]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: On 21 November 2002, a member of staff from our consulate in Hamburg accompanied Mr. Grindlay and his German lawyer to a hearing at the court in Pinnerberg. Consular staff in London and Hamburg are in regular contact with Mr. Grindlay and we will do all that we properly can to assist him.

Flanders

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by the Government to the Belgian authorities concerning the potential impact on Pilckem Ridge of the projected route of the A19 motorway in Flanders. [84521]

Mr. MacShane: The Government have made no representations to the Belgian authorities regarding the proposal to extend the A19 motorway in the area around Pilckem Ridge. However, the Flemish authorities have reassured the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that while the proposed route has not been finalised, it will not encroach on any Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. The MOD and the FCO, with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, continue to monitor developments.

Ian Hook

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice he has given to Mr. Ian Hook's relatives about seeking redress for his killing. [88609]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him today (UIN 88952). When we have received the results of the IDF and UN inquiries, we will discuss follow-up action with Mr. Hook's family.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 17 December 2002, Official Report, column 765W and 87111, when he expects to receive the results of the investigations into the killing of Mr. Ian Hook from (a) the IDF and (b) the UN. [88952]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We understand that both the Israeli and the UN reports are almost complete.

Indonesia

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many internal armed conflicts there are in Indonesia; what the origins were of each conflict and how long each has involved the use of armed force; and what steps he has taken to press the Indonesian Government to provide for civilian oversight and accountability of the security forces. [88307]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: There are a number of areas in Indonesia where the levels of violence give us cause for concern. These include Maluku, Sulawesi, West Papua and notably Aceh, where we welcome the recent agreement between GAM and the Government of Indonesia to end 26 years of conflict in that Province.

The origins of such conflicts vary and are complex: some are inter-ethnic or inter-religious while others may have economic causes. Our message to the Indonesian Government is clear and consistent: long-term stability can be achieved only through political negotiation and consultation with the people. Together with our European partners we are in regular, top-level dialogue with the Indonesian Government, and urge them to maintain law and order and promote reconciliation in order to ensure the territorial integrity of Indonesia.

We are implementing a strategy to tackle the causes of conflict; supporting reconstruction and reconciliation in troubled provinces such as Maluku, Aceh and Papua; and working with EU and other partners to help Indonesia build capacity to analyse and respond effectively to outbreaks of violence.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Sri Lankan Government concerning (a) the publication in July 2001 of the Sinhala Commission Report and (b) the publication of similar anti-Christian material over the last 18 months; [88619]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are aware of allegations of attacks on members of the Christian community in Sri Lanka. It appears that such attacks are not on the increase or part of a generalised problem or coherent strategy. There are some safeguards in place to protect people from all religious backgrounds, and there are dedicated ministries for Christian as well as Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist affairs. However, our High Commission continues to monitor the situation and raises the rights of religious minorities, and other human rights issues, with the Sri Lankan authorities. We regularly urge the authorities to ensure the rights of all minorities are upheld.

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the Sri Lankan peace talks. [89411]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Foreign Secretary and I were pleased to meet Professor Peiris, the Minister leading the Sri Lankan Government delegation, in December. This is an historic time for Sri Lanka. It is encouraging that the two sides have agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination for the Tamil people, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. I am pleased that human rights are being addressed. I look forward to further progress at the next round of talks in January. The international community has an important role to play in offering both political and practical support to Sri Lanka. The UK has committed over #15 million in developmental assistance for 2003–04.

Sudan

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on recent fighting in Darfur, Sudan. [88267]

Mr. Rammell: There are 13 tribes living in the border area between Chad and Darfur, Sudan. The Embassy in Khartoum raised reports of clashes between camel herders from the north and the Fur in Jebel Marra with the Government of Sudan on 19 December. Tribal reconciliation conferences took place for the Fur in Jebel Marra on 16–22 August and for the Arabs in Kas on 1–13 September.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made concerning recent reports of arrests and torture of student activists in Khartoum by the Government of Sudan. [88268]

Mr. Rammell: Torture and arbitrary arrest were raised as part of the EU/Sudan dialogue discussions on 9–10 December 2002. We regularly urge the Government of Sudan to ratify the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and make representations to the Government of Sudan about individual cases.

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Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the timetable for the resumption of EU development aid to Sudan and the pre-conditions for resumption. [88269]

Mr. Rammell: When a peace agreement is reached between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, the EU will respond quickly to underpin it through the initiation of a normalisation process and the release of development funds. The EU is also engaged in a political dialogue with the GoS involving benchmarks on democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the peace process. This dialogue is reviewed on an annual basis, most recently by an EU Troika mission to Khartoum on 9–10 December 2002.

Timber

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures the Government intends to take (a) unilaterally and (b) internationally to stop the import of Liberian conflict timber where it cannot be demonstrated that it is not being used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes; and if he will make a statement. [89070]

Mr. Rammell: We have played a leading role in trying to restrict the Government of Liberia's sanction busting activities. We share the concern of the UN Panel of Experts Reports that the revenues from timber sales are being used to fund arms purchases in breach of UN sanctions. UN Security Council resolution 1408 calls on the Government of Liberia to undertake the audit of shipping and timber revenues and to use the revenues from the timber trade for social, development and humanitarian purposes.

We supports the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) process, calling on all African governments and trading partners to take actions to control illegal activities in the logging sector and associated trade. There will be a Ministerial Conference in April 2003, organised by the World Bank, to push this process forward.


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