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Nottinghamshire Police

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects (a) to receive and (b) to publish HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's report into Nottinghamshire police's response to serious and violent crime. [12658]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 14 July 2005]: I received Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's report on 6 July 2005. The report was published on 20 September 2005 and is available on the Home Office website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk.

Religiously Offensive Material

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of recently introduced legislation in dealing with religiously offensive material; and if he will make a statement. [20282]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 20 October 2005]: The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 extended the nine racially-aggravated offences introduced in sections 29–32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to include religiously aggravated conduct. These offences, which include assault, criminal damage and harassment, make available to the courts higher maximum penalties
 
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where the offender demonstrates, or the offence is wholly or partly motivated by, hostility towards the victim based on the victim's membership or presumed membership of a religious group.

According to figures published by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in January 2005, 49 cases of religiously aggravated crimes were finalised during 2003–04. Because the new offences have only relatively recently come into force it is not yet possible to identify a trend or fully evaluate their impact.

Sex Crimes

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list organisations which have received funding from his Department to help individuals who claim to have been falsely accused of sexual crime; and how much each organisation received in the last five years for which figures are available. [27256]

Paul Goggins: The Home Office has not provided any funding to organisations helping those who claim to have been falsely accused of sexual crime in the last five years. The Office for Criminal Justice Reform does provide funding for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

People who believe they have been wrongly convicted or sentenced and who have exhausted all the normal review procedures can ask the CCRC to review their case. The CCRC can refer the case back to the appropriate appeal court if they conclude that there was a real possibility that the conviction or sentence would be overturned.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding sentencing of sexual offenders. [25853]

Paul Goggins: The Sexual Offences Act 2003 overhauled the law regarding sex offences. The Act followed a fundamental review of the legislation and a major public consultation. The consultation document, Setting the Boundaries", made a wide range of recommendations that were considered carefully in the light of over 700 responses received during the public consultation period. I also receive correspondence from Members of Parliament and the public regarding the sentencing of sexual offenders in relation to specific cases.

Sex Industry

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many women he estimates to be working illegally in the sex industry in (a) Brent, (b) London and (c) England; and what proportion of these women he estimates to have been illegally trafficked into the UK; [27200]

(2) what recent estimate he has made of the number of women illegally trafficked into the UK each year; what assessment he has made of what happens to them thereafter; and if he will make a statement. [27201]


 
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Paul Goggins: The nature of illegal immigration and human trafficking means that these are often hidden crimes which makes it extremely difficult to measure the scale of the problem or the numbers involved. We do not hold any statistics on the number of women who are working illegally in the sex industry and the nature of both on and off-street prostitution makes the collecting of reliable information difficult and any data must be viewed with a degree of caution.

There is a clear indication that brothels in London and other cities in the UK have an influx of foreign women. The Metropolitan police believes that 70 per cent. of the women involved in off street prostitution in London are now foreign nationals but it is not known how many of these are in the UK illegally. Taking effective action against people traffickers remains a high priority for this Government.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Anthrax Sales (Iraq)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council following the breach of the biological and toxic weapons convention caused by the sale of anthrax to Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [27649]

Dr. Howells: We remain of the opinion that there is no case for reporting the United States to the UN Security Council as having been in breach of its obligations under the biological and toxin weapons convention.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 14 October 2005, Official Report, column 643W.

Azerbaijan

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) transparency and (b) legitimacy of the recent elections in Azerbaijan. [28410]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government accept the assessment of the International Election Observation Mission led by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Their preliminary findings were released on 7 November. These found that the Azerbaijan parliamentary elections did not meet a number of OSCE and Council of Europe standards and commitments for democratic elections, suggesting that the elections were not free or fair. The UK, holding the Presidency of the European Union (EU), issued a statement on 7 November in response to the preliminary findings. A further EU statement was issued in the OSCE Permanent Council on 10 November. Both statements can be found on the Presidency website at www.eu2005.gov.uk.

Burundi

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the recent government elections in Burundi were free and fair; and if he will make a statement. [28147]


 
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Ian Pearson: As Presidency of the European Union (EU), the UK issued statements on 8 July and 23 August on the conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections in Burundi. We stated that we shared the assessment of the EU's Election Observation Mission that, despite some minor irregularities and allegations of fraud, the elections were generally in accordance with international standards.

We further congratulated the Burundian people for their commitment to a stable and democratic future for their country and urged all parties to accept the results of these elections and to work together towards building a peaceful and prosperous Burundi.

China

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met non-governmental organisations working on human rights in (a) China and (b) Tibet. [27070]

Ian Pearson: Ministers regularly hold meetings with non- governmental organisations interested in human rights in China, including Tibet. Recent such meetings have included one in May 2004 between my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and Ms Joanna Lumley and Ms Kate Saunders about human rights in Tibet. I have met the Free Tibet Campaign twice, once in June 2005 and once this month.

Ethiopia

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the recent elections in Ethiopia were free and fair. [26769]

Ian Pearson: In the period running up to the elections all parties were able to campaign relatively freely and were allowed some access to the state controlled media. The elections were generally well prepared and effectively conducted. The overall conduct of polling by the National Electoral Board was more transparent and efficient than ever before. However, the European Union Observer Mission (EUOM) and the Carter Centre have expressed concerns about the post election processes. We await the final report of the EUOM. Moreover, the United Kingdom, the European Union and others have protested about the violence and fatalities that occurred in the post-election period before all the results were confirmed.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Ethiopia regarding the recent political unrest there. [26979]

Ian Pearson: We are gravely concerned about the outbreak of violence in Ethiopia since 1 November which has resulted in a number of deaths and injuries and a large number of detentions, including of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy leadership and civil society and media leaders.

On 6 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) spoke to Prime Minister Meles. This followed action by my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa (Lord Triesman of Tottenham), who
 
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summoned the Ethiopian Charge" d'Affaires on 1 November to register our concerns. Our ambassador in Ethiopia has also raised our concerns with both Prime Minister Meles and with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister.

In our capacity as presidency of the European Union, our ambassador to Ethiopia held a press conference in Addis Ababa with the United States ambassador on 6 November, where we called for the Government to restore peace and confidence in the democracy building process by ensuring due process of law and respect for human rights.


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