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8 Feb 2005 : Column 1459W—continued


Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many citizens have been killed as a result of military action by coalition forces in Iraq since April 2002. [204229]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Member to the answer provided by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Armed Forces (Mr. Ingram) to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) on 27 January 2005 Official Report, column 541W and to the reply my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Rammell) gave to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Llew Smith) on 10 January Official Report, column 23 W. Additionally, the Iraqi Ministry of Health released a statement on 28 January 2005, which stated that their latest records from July to December 2004, taken from some 180 hospitals, show that 2,041 Iraqis were killed as a result of 'military action'. The statement explained that:

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) officials in his Department and (c) representatives of the UK Government have had with members and representatives of (i) the US Administration, (ii) the Governments of the EU member states and (iii) the Iraqi interim authority concerning Turkey's concerns over the (1)run-up to and (2) outcome of the elections in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [213244]

Mr. MacShane: We discuss Iraq regularly with our international partners, including the impact of developments in Iraq on Iraq's neighbours. We enjoy a very good dialogue with the Turkish Government on Iraq and are well aware of Turkey's views and concerns. Turkey's Foreign Minister on 31 January welcomed the Iraqi elections as a step taken on the road to the establishment of a democratic regime in Iraq.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made concerning the ill treatment of prisoners by the Iraq forces in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [213570]

Mr. MacShane: The Government are engaged in a continuous dialogue with the Iraqi Government about the need to respect human rights. We are offering support to the Human Rights Ministry in Baghdad and through a team of prison officers and police experts in Basra to advise and mentor their Iraqi colleagues in better prison management in the South of Iraq.

We welcome the recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Iraq and its recommendations on areas where more work needs to be done by the Iraqi authorities, by the international community and by Non-Governmental Organisations to prevent ill-treatment of prisoners in Iraqi detention facilities. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Human Rights in Iraq, my hon. Friend the Member for
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Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) raised our concerns, and the issues contained in the HRW report, with the head of the Southern Iraq Office of the Ministry of Human Rights while she was in Basra on 1 February. She also raised this with the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights, Bakhtiar Amin.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what categorisation system the Iraqi Ministry of Health uses to calculate casualty figures in Iraq. [214076]

Mr. MacShane: The Iraqi Ministry of Health released a statement on 28 January 2005, which explained that: Casualties of car bombs and other clearly identifiable terrorist attacks are recorded as being caused by terrorist incidents. All other casualties are recorded as military action. The casualties may include insurgents, civilians as well as Iraqi police who are treated in Ministry of Health hospitals. The casualties may have been killed or injured by terrorist or coalition forces. Coalition forces include Iraqi police, Iraqi security forces, and the Multi-National forces."


Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage the restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal. [214655]

Mr. Alexander: On 1 February, I summoned the Nepalese Ambassador to convey my grave concern over developments and to press for the early restoration of multi-party democracy. Later the same day, I issued a public statement calling for the immediate restoration of multi-party democracy and setting out my great concern at the steps taken by the King. Our Ambassador in Nepal is due to make similar representations to the King. The EU also made a statement along similar lines with input from the UK. The UK is currently considering, in consultation with our international partners, what further action we might take.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) weaponry, (b) military training and (c) other military equipment the UK Government have provided to the army of Nepal in the last five years. [214656]

Mr. Alexander: The UK has not supplied any lethal weaponry to the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) in the last five years. The UK has, however, gifted the following non-lethal military equipment.
2X2 Tonne ultra light dumper trucks2000
35XLand rovers2002
2XMi17 helicopters2003
Load carrying equipment for MISG2003
l0XMk7 bomb disposal wheelbarrows2003
Infrastructure support to RNA Intelligence School2003–04
Office equipment for RNA Intelligence School2003–04
Infrastructure support to RNA Peacekeeping School2003–04
IED search equipment2003–04
Radios and night vision goggles for MISG2003–04
2XIslander STOL aircraft and associated intelligence equipment2004
Revolution IED wheelbarrow2004
Engine spare parts for Ferret Scout Cars2004
English language training facility for RNA Peacekeeping School2004–05

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The UK has also provided three categories of military training as follows:

Routine Training. The UK has traditionally sent two RNA cadets to the Royal Military Academy each year. On passing out, these cadets then attend the Platoon Commanders' Battle Course run by the School of Infantry. In addition, an RNA major attends the Joint Services' Staff College each year at Shrivenham. Young officers have attended the Jungle Warfare Course in Brunei in the past—these courses are now conducted in Belize (a team of 6 RNA officers attended this course in 2004). The RNA also has one vacancy every three years at the Royal College of Defence Studies. This course is usually attended by a brigadier general.

Specialist Training on UK Courses. Since the deployment of the RNA against the Maoist insurgency, RNA officers have attended specialist courses in the UK. These include the Royal Engineer Troop Commanders' Course, Counter-Terrorist Search courses, Ammunition Technical Officers' courses (bomb disposal), Counter-Terrorist Bomb Disposal courses and the International Intelligence Directors' courses.

Tailored Training for the RNA. Training courses have been specifically run for RNA students in both the UK and Nepal since their deployment on operations against the Maoists. These have included training of Military intelligence Support Group personnel and basic counter-insurgency training.

All military training given to RNA students includes instruction on the Rules of War, including training on human rights and the Geneva Convention.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with (a) EU partners and (b) India regarding (i) Maoist insurgency in Nepal, (ii) the recent breakdown in multi-party democracy and (iii) the possibility of UN mediation between the Nepalese King, politicians and Maoists. [214657]

Mr. Alexander: We have a regular dialogue with India and with EU partners regarding the situation in Nepal. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary have raised the issue with their Indian counterparts in the new administration and the UK Special Representative for Nepal, SirJeffrey James, visits India several times a year. The Foreign Secretary raised Nepal with EU partners at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in June 2004 and it is regularly discussed in committee at official level. After the King assumed direct control of the country on 1 February the EU issued a statement with input from the UK. We have been in regular contact with the Indians following last week's actions by the King. We will continue to work to encourage all democratic forces in Nepal to work together.
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Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to advise (a) UK citizens in Nepal and (b) their families in the UK of the changing political and security situation in that country; and what assistance is being provided. [214658]

Mr. Alexander: The British Embassy in Kathmandu is providing a normal consular service to the British Community, visitors and tourists in Nepal. However, telephone communications in the country remain limited. The Embassy also operates a warden system, to maintain contact with members of the British Community. Embassy staff are answering by email enquiries from British nationals. We continue to keep the travel advice under regular review.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the strength and the military capabilities of Maoist insurgents in Nepal and (b) the threat they pose to the Nepalese monarchy; and what steps the Government have taken to assist Nepal in tackling the insurgents. [214659]

Mr. Alexander: The Nepalese Maoists' influence now extends to much of Nepal. In the past year they have demonstrated that they are able to organise and carry out occasional large scale military attacks (it is estimated with 5,000 or more men). They have carried out bombing campaigns in Kathmandu and have assassinated senior security force and political figures

We have consistently held that the topography and capabilities of the Maoists and the security forces are such that military victory by either side, if achievable, would not bring about an acceptable lasting democratic solution to the problems Nepal faces.

The UK has been providing a wide ranging and integrated package of assistance to Nepal, partly through the Department for International Development programme and using funds from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP). This assistance has ranged from development assistance aimed at tackling the underlying causes of poverty, social injustice and conflict in the country to the provision of non-lethal military assistance to the Royal Nepalese Army (UNA). The military assistance was particularly aimed at boosting the RNA's intelligence gathering capability and selective training, including on human rights. Money from the GCPP has also been used to fund the Peace Secretariat, a body of civil servants connected to the Prime Minister's Office and tasked with identifying political solutions to the conflict.

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