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Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with UN Security Council members regarding the (a) size, (b) effectiveness and (c) general mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [201967]

Mr. Mullin: In response to the deteriorating security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in mid-2004, the Security Council met to consider how MONUC's effectiveness could be improved. On 1 October 2004 the Security Council passed a revised mandate for MONUC under Security Council resolution 1565. This authorised an additional 5,900 military and civilian personnel, as well as necessary specialist force enablers. We expect the deployment of additional personnel to improve MONUC's effectiveness, first with the deployment of two new battalions in December 2004 and then with the deployment of a Brigade force to the troubled eastern region by March 2005. We continue to take an active part in Security Council discussions to ensure best use of resources and effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1565.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution the UK Government is making to the international efforts to secure peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [201968]

Mr. Mullin: The UK remains committed to working towards long-term peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the region. We support the Transitional Government and are in frequent and close contact with regional and international partners on ways forward for the peace process. Our Ambassador in DRC is a member of the international committee (CIAT) to support the transition process.

The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the DRC, giving over £34 million in 2004–05, with a principle focus on ending conflict and the climate of impunity and supporting the transition process.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place between the UK Government, the UN and the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding allegations of abuse made by refugees against UN civilian staff and soldiers. [201975]

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Mr. Mullin: The UK and other Security Council members urged the UN to make a quick response to allegations of sexual exploitation by MONUC personnel. The UN initiated an investigation into the allegations and called for troop contributing countries to ensure that the UN's investigations are followed up by appropriate disciplinary action. In UN Security Council resolution 1565, adopted on 1 October 2004, the Security Council voiced its concern at the allegations. It asked the Secretary-General to continue to investigate the allegations and for the UN and troop contributing countries to take appropriate disciplinary action in cases of misconduct. The Security-Council also encouraged MONUC to conduct training for its personnel, aimed at ensuring their full compliance with MONUC's code of conduct on sexual impropriety.

Embassy (Consulate Assistance)

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is made available from a British embassy or consulate to a British citizen involved (a) in an overseas court case and (b) in a serious accident overseas. [201989]

Mr. Mullin: All consular and diplomatic posts maintain lists of local English-speaking lawyers, which they make available to British nationals involved in overseas court cases.

Consular staff will also check on the progress of a case on behalf of a British national or their family, if permitted to do so by the local authorities. However, consular staff do not routinely attend court hearings, nor can they provide professional interpretation of the proceedings.

If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is informed that a British national is hospitalised after being involved in an accident, consular staff will aim to contact him or her within 24 hours and to visit him or her within 48 hours of making contact. They may also liaise with insurance and medivac companies on behalf of the British national.

If a British national dies overseas, consular staff can advise on transport of the remains and personal property back to the UK, the cost of local burial and local cremation. They can also provide a list of local funeral directors. If an English-speaking firm is not available, consular staff will help relatives with the arrangements. They can also help transfer money from friends and relatives in the UK to pay any necessary costs.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions the Minister for Europe has held with HM Treasury on the assessment of the five economic tests for entry to the euro. [203699]

Mr. Mullin: None. The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 2004 Budget, "while the Government does not propose a euro assessment be initiated at the
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time of this Budget, the Treasury will again review progress at Budget time next year and report to the House", Official Report, columns 321–36.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is his Department's policy that legal immunities should be extended to Eurojust. [203696]

Mr. Mullin: Legal immunities in respect of Eurojust and its staff are a matter for the Dutch, as the Netherlands is the member state in which Eurojust is located.

European Police College

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what legal basis the European Police College is to be designated a body of the European Union. [203700]

Mr. Mullin: Where the creation of a body is required to facilitate the attainment of the objectives set out in article 29 of the treaty then such a body may be established under the treaty. The European Police College can make a valuable contribution to the prevention and detection of crime so the establishment of the college can properly be effected by a decision under article 30(1)(c) of the EU treaty.

The Commission issued a draft Council decision on 1 October 2004 to formally establish the European Police College as a body of the European Union. The main aim of the proposal is to allow CEPOL to receive direct funding from the Community's budget and to fall under the auspices of the Commission's staff rules.


Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to urge partners on the UN Security Council to deploy the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti at full military and civilian strength. [201971]

Mr. Rammell: The Government works to support an effective UN mission in Haiti. We continue to take an active part in Security Council discussions on Haiti to ensure deployment of sufficient personnel and the best use of resources.

There has been considerable progress since the establishment of the mission—particularly with recent troop deployments. These are detailed in the report of the UN Secretary-General of 18 November 2004 (S2004/908), copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. As of 8 November 2004, 4,493 military personnel and 978 civilian police were deployed. This is over half the maximum authorised strength of 6,700 military personnel and 1,622 civilian police. However more progress needs to be made and we are taking steps to support this. Most recently, we were active in ensuring the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1576 (29 November 2004) which urged troop and police-contributing countries to abide by the deployment schedules agreed, and noted the particular need for more French-speaking officers.
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The Government place great importance on ensuring the placement of qualified and trained personnel in the UN Mission in Haiti. In September 2004, representatives of the Metropolitan Police Service provided training assistance to police officers from China for their deployment in Haiti. The trainers focused specifically on understanding and practical application of the Rules of Engagement to ensure that the Chinese contingent would have the requisite skills for effective work on the ground. Ninety-five Chinese riot police were deployed on 17 October, representing their first ever police deployment abroad.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to assist the international efforts in Haiti to disarm and demobilise militia groups. [201972]

Mr. Rammell: The Government place great importance on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) in all peace support operations. We worked to ensure that the mandate establishing the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) set DDR as one of the key mission priorities. Security Council resolution 1542 (30 April 2004) tasked MINUSTAH to "assist the Transitional Government, particularly the Haitian National Police, with comprehensive and sustainable DDR programmes for all armed groups, including women and children associated with such groups, as well as weapons control and public security measures.'

This emphasis on DDR continues to be crucial. We were active in ensuring that the latest UN Security Council resolution 1576 (29 November 2004) stressed the urgency of conducting DDR and urged the Transitional Government to establish a National Commission on DDR without delay.

The Government also supports capacity building on DDR within the UN. This year we are providing over £150,000 for a project which aims to develop a comprehensive set of common and integrated policies, guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures, as well as Headquarter and field planning mechanisms and tools for the planning and conduct of DDR in a peacekeeping context.

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