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5 Jan 2004 : Column 80W—continued

Central Asian Drugs Action Plan

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 9 December 2003, Official Report, column 421W, on the Central Asian Drugs Action Plan, what effect the implementation of the Central Asian Drugs Action Plan has had on the importation of heroin from Afghanistan into the UK. [144497]

Mr. Rammell: It is estimated that over 80 per cent. of Afghan heroin reaching the UK arrives via Turkey, with Pakistan and Iran being key staging posts en route. The majority of Afghan heroin trafficked via the Central Asian Republics is judged to be destined for

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consumption in Russia and other countries in the region, rather than for onward transit to the European Union and United Kingdom. The trafficking of Afghan heroin via the Central Asian Republics is therefore not a significant factor in determining the amount of heroin reaching the UK.


Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what actions his Department has taken to advance the cause of human rights in Chechnya. [145799]

Mr. Rammell: We continue to be concerned over the human rights situation in Chechnya and consistent reports of human rights abuses, including reports of rising numbers of abductions and disappearances. We regularly raise UK concerns on the situation in Chechnya with the Russian Government. We most recently did so following the Chechen Presidential elections, when I called for human rights to be upheld in Chechnya. The UK also supported EU statements before and after the elections which raised similar concerns.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Chinese authorities about the case of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche (Aa'n Zhaxi); and if he will make a statement. [145375]

Mr. Rammell: We have raised Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche's case with the Chinese authorities on a number of occasions. I did so most recently with Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui in Beijing on 17 December 2003. He replied that Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche had had a fair and public trial and been sentenced in accordance with Chinese law. We will continue to express our concerns about this case.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he is holding with the Colombian Government on human rights and freedom for trade union activities. [144921]

Mr. Rammell: We have a regular dialogue with the Colombian Government as well as with non-governmental organisations and trade unions on these issues. I raised relevant concerns during my visit to Colombia in May 2003 and again when I met the Colombian Foreign Minister in New York in September 2003. These issues were given prominence in the London Declaration issued at the London Meeting on International Support for Colombia in July. A Working Group in Bogota of the governments who attended the Meeting is monitoring, and will evaluate progress on, the implementation of the London Declaration.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make inquiries about the whereabouts of the two Colombian military officers found guilty of the murder of Manuel Capeda. [145138]

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Mr. Rammell: The Colombian authorities have informed us that these officers are currently serving prison sentences for the murder of Manuel Capeda in a state prison in the city of Ibague.

Disabled Civil Servants

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many senior civil servants in his Department are disabled, expressed in (a) numbers and (b) as a percentage of whole-time equivalents. [144979]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: At September 2003, eight FCO staff in the Senior Management Structure declared themselves to have a disability. This represents 1.7 per cent. of all staff at this level.

Draft European Constitution

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons his Department (a) tabled an amendment to the draft European constitution to delete sub-clauses 2(a) to (g) from Article III-167 and (b) ceased to have an objection to these sub-clauses. [145210]

Mr. MacShane: Article III-167 paragraph 2 of the Convention on the Future of Europe's draft Constitutional Treaty for the EU concerns the Union's common policy on asylum. The UK tabled an amendment to the Convention draft of this article because it believed that the text could be improved by focusing it more on general provisions setting out the desired purpose and outcomes of European cooperation in this area. However, in the light of discussions during the IGC, and given that any UK participation would be on the basis of the Title IV Protocol, the Government decided not to pursue these proposals, and is content with the latest draft Treaty text.

EU-Israel Association Agreement

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with EU counterparts to discuss Article II of the EU-Israel Association Agreement relating to adherence to human rights. [145389]

Mr. MacShane: The EU last discussed Israel's adherence to human rights and the EU/Israel Association Agreement at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 17 November 2003, immediately prior to the EU/Israel Association Council.

The EU has serious concerns about the lack of respect shown for the human rights of both Israeli and Palestinian people in this conflict. Along with our EU partners, we have followed a policy of constructive engagement with Israel on humanitarian and human rights issues. At the EU/Israel Association Council the EU called on Israel to abstain from any punitive measures that are not in accordance with international law, including extra-judicial killings and destruction of houses.

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the status is of the city of Jerusalem in the EU-Israel Association Agreement. [145390]

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Mr. MacShane: The EU/Israel Association Agreement defines the scope of its coverage as the EU and the State of Israel. It does not define further what is meant by the "State of Israel".

The Government and the International Community consider that the status of Jerusalem is one of the issues to be resolved by negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a permanent status agreement that ends the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Pending agreement, the Government recognises de facto Israeli authority over West Jerusalem, but consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. We recognise no sovereignty over the city.

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what controls exist on the import of products from illegal Israeli settlements to prevent their entry to the UK under preferential treatment within the EU-Israel Association Agreement. [145391]

Mr. MacShane: The European Commission published, in November 2001, a notice to importers in the Official Journal of the European Communities alerting EC importers to the ineligibility of products originating in the Occupied Territories for the preferences provided by the EU/Israel Association Agreement.

HM Customs and Excise are verifying the origin of certain products. Where products are found to have originated in the Occupied Territories HM Customs and Excise collect duty from the UK importers. Other EU member states' customs authorities, working with the European Commission, are taking similar action to enforce EC law.

Great Lakes

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of child soldiers in the countries of the Great Lakes region in Africa. [145153]

Mr. Mullin: The UK condemns unequivocally the use of child soldiers.

We are particularly concerned about the widespread use of child soldiers in the Great Lakes region. The UK has contributed US$25 million to the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme (MDRP). The funds for this will be used in part in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to enable the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of child soldiers. We have provided an additional £750,000 directly to UNICEF to help its programme until funding under the MDRP becomes available. The UK has also provided technical assistance to the Congolese to enable them to draw up a National Programme for DDR.

In Uganda, the UK gave £450,000 to UNICEF and Save the Children last Financial Year to rehabilitate children who have escaped from their Lords Resistance Army. We have discussed with the Ugandan Government reports of under-age soldiers being recruited by the Government defence units in the North. The Government of Uganda has assured us that they are

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co-operating with UNICEF to identify and demobilise the recruits. Our High Commission in Kampala is monitoring the situation.

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