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Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the UK signed the 1995 Estonia Agreement preventing exploration of the wreck of the Baltic Ferry, Estonia; and if he will make a statement. 
The purpose of the 1995 Estonia Agreement was to protect the final place of rest of the 852 people who died when the MS Estonia sank. The UK acceded to the agreement in 1999, consistent with our role as a leading maritime power and our friendly relations with Sweden, Finland and Estonia, who were
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the original contracting parties to the agreement. Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia have also acceded to the agreement.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken by UK embassies and consulates to protect employees against bio-contamination through the post. 
Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued guidance to all its missions overseas on the handling of potentially dangerous contaminants received through the post and advises them to practice drills on dealing with such incidents in conjunction with the local authorities. All suspicious parcels and letters should be scanned prior to opening and staff are advised to use medical standard face masks and latex gloves when handling such mail.
FCO overseas security advisers advise on the positioning of mail rooms and sorting facilities to ensure that they are located outside general working areas. Any suspicious mail is then isolated to avoid wider contamination. Missions are also advised to hold, or have ready access to, stocks of prescribed antibiotics so they can be administered quickly to staff.
The FCO is aware of the limitations of scanning equipment to detect possible contaminants and, in conjunction with Government research groups, is seeking more effective methods of detecting such threats.
Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the (a) Venezuelan and (b) US Government concerning the activities of terrorists in the Caribbean region. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what value for money procurement savings were identified and what reduction in civil service posts occurred in his Department in 200405. 
Mr. Straw: In the pre-Budget report 2004, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer reported Office of Government Commerce (OGC) value for money gains in central civil government procurement for 200304 of £2 billion. OGC value for money procurement gains for 200405 are being calculated and will be published in the 2005 Treasury Autumn Performance report. Final figures for value for money procurement savings for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are still being drawn together for submission to the OGC, but indications are that these will be in excess of £2.9 million.
In the 2005 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a headcount reduction of 12,500 posts by the end of 200405, towards the Government's target of a
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gross reduction of 84,000 civil service and administrative posts by 2008. Under its efficiency plans, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to reduce staffing levels by 313 by 1 April 2008. The rollout of a new database over the period in question makes exact comparisons difficult, but excluding staff paid for by fee income, we estimate staff numbers have declined by about 50 between April 2004 and April 2005.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Our embassy in Bogota reports regularly on internally displaced people (IDPs) in Colombia, and discusses the situation with the Colombian authorities, the UN and NGOs. Given the nature of the issue, it is very difficult to put a completely accurate figure on the number of IDPs. Statistics provided by the Government of Columbia and unofficial statistics differ slightly, but the figures are in the region of 3 million people internally displaced. This humanitarian crisis has arisen as a direct result of the internal armed conflict in Colombia. Recent years have shown a marked decline in numbers of newly displaced people, although the overall figure of internally displaced people as a whole continues to rise, as the security forces made some headway against the illegally armed groups. Government of Colombia figures for 2003 and 2004 for new displacements are 219,469 and 137,315 respectively. But the situation is still critical and more needs to be done to address the issue. South-West Colombia, where the security forces are making a concerted push against the illegal armed groups, is particularly affected.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter dated 1 February from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding the Diplomatic Bag Service. 
Ian Pearson: We are extremely concerned by events around Due"koue", including the deaths of over 50 people and the displacement of up to 8,000 civilians, and the continuing unrest in the west of Co(r)te d'Ivoire. Together with our European Union partners we have called on all parties to the Ivorian conflict to promote calm, ensure there is no recurrence of these tragic events and keep to the timetable set for disarmament and demobilisation.
Mr. Martyn Jones:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a
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statement on the UN Security Council's recommendation to extend the mandate of peacekeeping forces in Cyprus. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: We welcome the UN Secretary-General's recommendation to extend the mandate of peacekeeping forces in Cyprus. We also commend the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for its swift and successful implementation of many of the changes to its force strength and structure which were authorised in UN Security Council Resolution 1568 (2004) to take account of changes in the political context and physical changes on the ground. We are encouraged that the situation along the Green Line remains calm and that crossings have taken place frequently. In this regard, we welcome the Secretary-General's commitment to keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review and to revert to the Security Council in the event that major changes are warranted.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his estimate is of the number of African Union troops required to secure Darfur; and how many there are at present. 
Ian Pearson: The African Union (AU) led an assessment mission to Darfur in March this year to look at the AU force's performance. Military experts from the EU, UN, UK, US and Canada participated in this mission. On the recommendations of the assessment team, the AU decided to expand its mission in Darfur to over 7,700 personnel in order to fulfil its current mandate and to provide a secure environment throughout the region. The UK welcomed this decision, and has allocated £19 million to support the expansion. This brings our total support to the AU mission to almost £32 million.
At present, the AU has deployed almost 2,700 of the planned 3,320 staff for its mission. The shortfall is mainly due to delays in identifying and deploying suitable police officers. Our understanding is that approximately 460 police are deployed (out of a mandated 815). Efforts to close the gap continue.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to implement the UN Security Council resolution of 29 March to freeze the assets and restrict the travel movements of the architects of the genocide in Darfur. 
Dr. Howells: The Government have fully implemented the obligations in Security Council Resolution 1591 (2005) in the United Kingdom, the overseas territories and Crown dependencies. It has made the necessary provisions for the assets freeze and travel ban to be applied to individuals who will be designated by the committee, including individuals that have committed violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the first indictments to be handed down to the alleged perpetrators identified by the International Criminal Court on war crimes in Darfur. 
The court will carry out its investigations in Darfur, as elsewhere, in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, like the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor's discretion.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the estimate made by the UN's Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs of the numbers of people that would die every month in Darfur if insecurity led to humanitarian organisations suspending their operations there. 
Ian Pearson: Jan Egeland estimated in March that 10,000 Sudanese civilians were dying each month in Darfur. Estimates of deaths in Darfur vary from 70,000 to 300,000 and above. Accurate figures are not available and, even though the World Health Organisation is undertaking a second crude mortality survey, it will only give a snapshot of the situation. We are unlikely ever to get a full and wholly accurate picture of deaths from this conflict.
There are 2.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Darfur and many of these would be put at great risk if humanitarian operations were suspended by any organisation for reasons of insecurity. This is why the Government fully supported the African Union's (AU) decision to increase their troop numbers from 3,000 to 7,700 and why the Government recently announced a further £19 million in funding to the AU mission in Darfur. This brings the UK's total funding to the AU to almost £32 million.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn), reaffirmed to the Government of Sudan during his recent visit that NGOs must be allowed to operate freely and without harassment.
Dr. Howells: There is no doubt that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed in Darfur. We have consistently made clear that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes must be brought to justice.
The UK applies the definition of genocide given in the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Under the Act, genocide" is defined by reference to Article 6 of the Rome Statute, as certain acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
For this reason, we pressed strongly for the establishment of an expert International Commission of Inquiry (ICI) by the Secretary-General of the United
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Nations to investigate the reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Darfur in 2004, and to determine whether genocide had occurred. The ICI's report, issued to the Security Council on 31 January 2005, concluded that the Government of Sudan did not appear to have pursued a policy of genocide in Darfur and that, while individuals may have done so, this was a determination which only a competent court could make. The conclusion that no genocidal policy had been pursued by the Government in no way detracted from the gravity of the crimes committed including crimes against humanity and/or war crimes. Following this, the UK played a leading role in sponsoring UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) of 31 March, in which the Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC)as recommended by the ICI. The prosecutor of the ICC announced a formal investigation on 6 June.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the two sides involved in the Darfur crisis to clarify which countries should be involved in the mediation process. 
Ian Pearson: We fully support the African Union (AU) mediation in the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, and welcome the appointment of Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim as AU Special Envoy to the talks. We are pressing the Government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement to co-operate fully with the AU mediation, and to work in good faith to achieve a political resolution of the conflict.
A number of international observers are also present at the talks, at the invitation of the AU, including a UK representative who is ready to provide support and advice, as required, to the mediation team and the parties.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects a new Senior Special Envoy to Sudan to be appointed to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Darfur Peace Process. 
Mr. Goulty has an unparalleled knowledge of Sudan, deriving from his previous appointments as British ambassador to Khartoum, Director for the Middle East and North Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and, from 2002 to 2004, as the United Kingdom's special representative for Sudan. He played a key role in the successful negotiations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the 21 year civil war in Sudan. He will perform his new role in addition to his current responsibilities as British ambassador to Tunis.
Ian Pearson: The African Union (AU) led an assessment mission to Darfur in March to look at the AU force's performance. Military experts from the EU, UN, UK, US and Canada participated in this mission. It found that the AU's mandate was sufficient to promote peace and security in the region, but that more troops were needed to deliver it effectively.
On the recommendations of the assessment mission, the AU has decided to expand its mission in Darfur to over 7,700 personnel. It has also said that, within its existing mandate, the expanded mission will focus more on the provision of security. The increased number of troops will allow it to do this, and we are therefore working to support the AU in getting them deployed and fully operational as quickly as possible.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the benefit to (a) the Government of Sudan and (b) the people of Darfur that will result from the oil contract between Cliveden Petroleum Sudan Ltd. and the Government of Sudan; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the implications of the oil contract between Cliveden Petroleum Sudan Ltd. and the Government of Sudan for the (a) credibility and (b) effectiveness of UK foreign policy towards Sudan. 
Ian Pearson: We are aware of reports that Cliveden Petroleum Sudan Ltd., as part of a wider oil exploration group, have been granted a concession to explore for oil in Darfur. We have no further details.
Following signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005, all future oil contracts will be decided by the National Petroleum Commission (NPC), which will include representatives from oil producing regions. Under the terms of the CPA, the local, as well as national, interests of the population will guide the utilisation of oil. Local communities will have the right to participate in the development of oil from their areas, through their respective states/regions, and shall share in the benefits of that development. But for the full benefits of a peace dividend to be realised, the parties must achieve a political resolution for Darfur. To this end, we are pressing the Government of Sudan and the rebels to reach agreement in Abuja, consistent with the principles of power and wealth sharing as set down in the CPA. A UK observer is present at the talks.
On 21 May 2005 the Sudanese authorities suspended the publication of the English language daily newspaper, Khartoum Monitor, allegedly because of its coverage of the clashes in the Soba Aradi camp on 18 May. Our ambassador in Khartoum made strong representations on this matter to the Government of Sudan on 21 May.
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On 12 June the Khartoum Monitor had its license revoked by the Press Council General Secretary. An appeal against the decision has been launched. We have since made further representations to the Government of Sudan. We regularly press the Sudanese authorities on the need to provide full press freedom and freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
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