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17 Jan 2005 : Column 701W—continued

Indonesia

Mr. Hancock: To what representations he has made to the Government of Indonesia regarding recent atrocities by the Indonesian military in Puncak Jaya, West Papua; and if he will make a statement. [207052]


 
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Mr. Alexander: We are aware of reports of human rights abuses in Puncak Jaya, Papua, Indonesia. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's Special Adviser, Dr. Michael Williams, visited Indonesia as a ministerial envoy in December 2004. He met the President, the Foreign Minister and other senior members of the Indonesian Government. The situation in Papua was discussed during these meetings. The British Embassy in Jakarta has also discussed these allegations with people in the area. According to their reports, there have been some problems but the situation has now calmed down.

The British Government welcome the high priority that the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has attached to the resolution of conflict in Papua. We also welcome the Indonesian Foreign Minister's statement that their Government have endorsed a human rights plan of action covering the next five years.

Iraq

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the quality of the environment in Iraq (a) before the invasion by Coalition forces in March 2003 and (b) recently. [208371]

Mr. Rammell: It is not routine practice for the UK to carry out assessments of the quality of the environment in another country and no such assessment was carried out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Iraq prior to, or post March 2003.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is providing financial support to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for post-conflict environmental assessment work in Iraq, which includes technical assistance and capacity building for the Iraqi Environment Ministry.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also providing financial support for a Liaison Officer for the Iraq Donors Group on the Marshlands and Environment Management, involving Iraq, UNEP and international donors.

New Eurasia Foundation

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role the New Eurasia Foundation plays in fulfilling the policy objectives of his Department; and what funding the Department contributes to the New Eurasia Foundation. [207768]

Mr. Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) only funds those areas of work of the New Eurasia Foundation that assist us in meeting our departmental objectives. An example of this is their work in respect of the strengthening of civil society in Russia. In this connection the FCO is presently funding, with the sum of £130,000 over two financial years, one of their projects designed to strengthen the independence of selected newspapers in Russia's regions. This is the continuation of a project originally run by the Eurasia Foundation, one of the founding organisations of the New Eurasia Foundation.
 
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In addition, the FCO continues to contribute to the Eurasia Foundation by supporting projects in Georgia and Central Asia with the sum of nearly £260,000. Unlike the New Eurasia Foundation that only operates in Russia, the Eurasia Foundation also works in other countries of the former Soviet Union.

Passports (Tsunami Survivors)

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many temporary passports were issued to British survivors of the recent tsunami. [208721]

Mr. Mullin: Up to 11 January 2005 our Consular Staff in Thailand issued 66 gratis Emergency Passports and 305 gratis restricted validity passports. They also issued approximately 200 facilitation letters in agreement with the Thai immigration authorities, to allow British nationals affected by the Tsunami to leave Thailand.

The British High Commission in Colombo has issued 17 full passports and two emergency passports to British Citizens in Sri Lanka who have been affected by the disaster. However, in order to facilitate the speedy return to the UK of stranded British Citizens, the British High Commission has worked in close co-operation with the UK and Sri Lankan Immigration Services, to arrange for confirmed British Citizens who had lost their passports as a result of the Tsunami to return to the UK without a passport.

Ramush Haradinaj

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with investigations into whether war crimes were committed by Mr. Ramush Haradinaj, prime minister of Kosovo. [208094]

Mr. MacShane: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is an independent institution established by the UN Security Council Resolution 827 (25 May, 1993). The Government are therefore not in a position to discuss on-going investigations nor possible future indictments in Kosovo or elsewhere.

Senior Staff (Women)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many women there are in senior positions in his Department. [205861]

Mr. Alexander: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of women in senior positions in Departments.

The latest information, at April 2004, is available in the Library of the House and also on the civil service website at the following addresses.

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management_information/statistical_information/statistics/publications/xls/gender_apr04_4nov04.xls.

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management_information/statistical_information/statistics/publications/xls/disability_apr04_4nov04.xls
 
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There are currently 69 women in senior positions in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The number of women in senior positions has continued to rise steadily over the last five years. We are working to ensure that this trend continues. We have in place a range of measures to promote greater gender diversity at senior levels, including positive action training for women, flexible working, monitoring of our promotion procedures, a board gender champion and gender advisory group, and the requirement for all staff to have diversity training and objectives.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sri Lanka regarding (a) attacks against Sri Lankan Christians, with particular reference to recent attacks against (i) the Assemblies of God church in Yakkala and (ii) the Bethel Children's Home in Batticaloa and (b) the Sri Lankan Government's attempts to pass anti-conversion laws. [207054]

Mr. MacShane: We have not made specific representations to the Government of Sri Lanka regarding these particular attacks. On the issue of proposed legislation against 'forced conversion', our position remains, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told his Sri Lankan counterpart in July last year, that we do not believe legislation is appropriate in this area. Instead we see inter-religious and inter-community dialogue as the best way to promote tolerance and co-operation in Sri Lanka. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, to maintain our contacts with all religious denominations and to raise our concerns with government ministers both bilaterally and with our EU partners.

Stolen Property

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants from his Department have (a) faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of allegations of theft, (b) been charged with theft and (c) been dismissed following theft allegations in each year since 1997. [206402]

Mr. MacShane: The information is as follows.

(a) One, in 2000.

(b) No staff have faced criminal charges relating to the theft of Foreign and Commonwealth Office property.

(c) No civil servants were dismissed for theft.

Thailand

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will amend the advice offered by his Department to young travellers to Thailand to highlight the threat posed by lawlessness. [207703]


 
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Mr. MacShane [holding answer 11 January 2005]: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice is constantly monitored to ensure that it provides up-to-date information on the situation in countries overseas, enabling British nationals to make an informed decision on whether or not to travel to those countries.

This information is gained from a variety of sources that includes, but is not limited to, our overseas posts, intelligence sources, and the travel industry. Following careful assessment of information received, we make appropriate amendments to our Travel Advice as and when necessary.


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