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Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many unpaid
 
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special advisers the Department has; what their names are; and which Government (a) bodies, (b) committees and (c) strategy groups each unpaid adviser (i) belongs to, (ii) advises and (iii) works alongside. [194065]

Mr. Straw: None. My noble Friend the Lord Carter of Coles is heading a review of public diplomacy work and has assisted in reviewing efficiency in the Department. He is unpaid, but does not have the status or role of special adviser.

Sudan

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effect that China's economic interests in Sudan might have on China's position in relation to an UN Security Council resolution calling for oil sanctions against Sudan. [194134]

Mr. Rammell: China made clear that it opposed the threat of oil sanctions and gave reasons for its position in its explanation of vote during the adoption of resolutions 1556 and 1564, copies of which I have placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) implementation and (b) effects of the concept of safe areas in the August Plan of Action agreed by the United Nations and the Sudanese Government. [194459]

Mr. Mullin: The concept of areas of enhanced security, or "safe areas", agreed by the United Nations and the Government of Sudan in the August Plan of Action, was envisaged as an initial basis on which to improve the overall security situation in Darfur. The United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General, Jan Pronk, reported throughout August and September that security in the camps had improved, although overall insecurity continued to be a major problem due to violations of the ceasefire by all sides and continuing banditry. The expanded African Union mission will help facilitate improvements in security for the whole of Darfur.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan on direct and indiscriminate attacks by Government forces on civilians and civilian objects. [194479]

Mr. Mullin: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the continuing insecurity and ceasefire violations with President Bashir and First Vice President Taha during his visit to Sudan on 6 October. He made clear that the fighting must stop and that there can be no impunity for the grave crimes against humanity which have been committed in Darfur. There is an urgent need to deploy the expanded AU mission as soon as possible in order to address the continuing insecurity in Darfur. The UK has allocated £12 million to support this. We have also impressed on the rebels the need to abide by the ceasefire and cease attacks on aid workers.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan about the case for amending Article 3 of its National Security Forces Act. [194480]


 
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Mr. Mullin: Our embassy in Khartoum has made regular representations to the Government of Sudan on the need to repeal the National Security Forces Act. Article 3 of this Act defines the various bodies referred to in the text: we have made no representations on this specific article. Article 33, however, deals with the criminal trials of members or agents of the National Security Forces. We have made very clear to the Government of Sudan that there can be no impunity for any crimes against humanity or violations of human rights perpetrated in Darfur, or elsewhere. The International Commission of Inquiry will investigate reports of violations of human rights in Darfur and identify the perpetrators, with a view to ensuring those responsible are held accountable.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan about the need to amend the decrees instituting the special courts or specialised criminal courts in Darfur to ensure their fair trial without the possibility of the death penalty or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. [194481]

Mr. Mullin: Our embassy in Khartoum follows cases that pass through these courts and raises, both bilaterally and through the EU-Sudan dialogue, our concerns with the Sudanese Government, focusing not only on the sentences passed but also the lack of due legal process and the right to a fair trial. The Government of Sudan have given assurances that no death and cross-amputation sentences have been carried out since the creation of the specialised courts on 31 March 2004. However, there are no reliable means of verifying this. We continue to press for the specialised courts to be removed and the full rights of appeal to be made available.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan about the need to ensure that victims of past human rights violations have access to redress. [194482]

Mr. Mullin: During my visit in September, I raised with the Government of Sudan the need for reparations to be made to the victims and families of victims of human rights violations. I also stressed the importance of rapid progress on the comprehensive peace agreement: this provides that the parties will initiate a process of national reconciliation throughout the country, based on mechanisms to be worked out by the Government of National Unity.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan on ensuring that investigations into alleged war crimes in the country include (a) forensic examinations of graves, (b) a systematic documentation of sexual violence and rape, (c) compilation of lists of people killed and (d) mapping of villages that have been destroyed. [194483]

Mr. Mullin: There are several mechanisms deployed across Darfur to monitor allegations of violations of human rights and extra-judicial killings. These include the National Darfur Investigation Committee, three Rape Committees, the African Union Ceasefire Monitoring Commission, the International Commission
 
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of Inquiry and UK-funded human rights monitors from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Recent visits by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, facilitated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, also documented human rights violations in Darfur. Their reports are available online.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assurances he has received from the Government of Sudan about the centrality of human rights in the peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya and Abuja, Nigeria. [194484]

Mr. Mullin: Respect for the rights of internally displaced persons and refugees, together with measures to ensure that violators of those rights are held accountable, are central to the Humanitarian Protocol negotiated by the parties in the Abuja peace talks. On 6 October, the Government of Sudan gave its commitment to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to immediately and unilaterally implement this protocol.

The Protocol on Power Sharing, agreed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Naivasha in May 2004, commits the parties to comply in full with their obligations under international human rights treaties to which they are, or become, a party. The Protocol also provides for the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan about the need to ensure the participation of women in the peace process. [194485]

Mr. Mullin: We regularly remind the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups of the need for the peace processes to be as fully inclusive as possible. The equal right of men and women to all civil, political and fundamental human rights is one of the principles set down in the power sharing protocol agreed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, in Naivasha, Kenya in May 2004.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress in disarming and disbanding the Janjaweed militias, including those members who have been incorporated into the Popular Defence Forces, the People's Police and other paramilitary forces. [194487]

Mr. Mullin: In August, the Government of Sudan claimed to have disarmed 30 per cent. of the Popular Defence Forces, although this could not be independently verified. The September report of the UN Special Representative made clear that not enough progress had been made on disarmament of militias or on security issues. The Government of Sudan has committed itself to further disarmament of the Popular Defence Forces, its allied militias and the "Janjaweed". The expansion of the African Union monitoring mission will allow independent verification of disarmament by both the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people in Darfur who are suspected of violations of international human
 
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rights or humanitarian law have been removed from posts in the (a) army, (b) judiciary, (c) police and (d) civil service. [194488]

Mr. Mullin: Exact figures for the number of officials removed from their posts in Darfur are not available. However, the Government of Sudan has provided our embassy in Khartoum with numbers of armed forces and National Security Forces personnel tried and convicted there between January and June 2004 of crimes under various articles of the criminal act.

These figures show that in Darfur, 24 members of the armed forces were either tried and convicted or were awaiting trial as of 31 May 2004 for crimes under Article 130 of the Criminal Act. 28 members of the National Security Forces were tried for various offences in the same period, 25 of whom were convicted.

The Government of Sudan also informed our embassy that, as of 31 May 2004, 266 members of the police force were under investigation for various crimes.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan about the need to train the country's police in international human rights standards. [194491]

Mr. Mullin: During my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's visit to Khartoum on 6 October, the Government of Sudan agreed to a civilian police monitoring role as part of the expanded African Union mission in Darfur. Various UN agencies have also started to establish training programmes in humanitarian and human rights law for the Government of Sudan police force.

The UK's Department for International Development, together with the UN Joint Assessment Missions, has been engaged with the Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement on the issue of police training following the successful completion of a peace deal. This would include the mainstreaming of human rights training and increased accountability within the police forces.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the monitoring mission of the African Union in Sudan. [194492]

Mr. Mullin: The current African Union (AU) mission of approximately 150 military observers is now carrying out regular investigations into alleged violations of the ceasefire agreement. The information from these investigations helps the international community to monitor the situation on the ground and to hold the parties to account for their activities. The AU's strategy is to use monitoring to reduce the scope for the parties to the ceasefire to violate it with impunity.

However we have been pressing for some time for a larger, and better-equipped mission which could have a more direct impact on the ground in terms of improving the security situation, and building confidence. This is why we fully support the planned expansion of the mission and have allocated £12 million for this purpose.
 
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