Previous Section Index Home Page

2 Dec 2005 : Column 871W—continued


British Embassies (Overnight Visitors)

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what system is in place to log (a) day and (b) overnight visitors to the British embassies in (i) France, (ii) Germany, (iii) Iran, (iv) Italy, (v) Russia, (vi) Saudi Arabia, (vii) North Korea, (viii) Zimbabwe and (ix) the US. [32742]

Ian Pearson: The embassies in these countries log all official visitors by the following means:
FranceSecurity Office Log Book used day and night
GermanyLogging-in form during the day, log Book at night
IranLog Book used day and night for all official visitors
ItalyLogging-in form used day and night for all official
RussiaAll official visitors logged in and out electronically
Saudi ArabiaAll official visitors logged in and out electronically
North KoreaLog Book operated at front gate on behalf of UK,
German and Swedish embassies (shared premises) for all official visitors
ZimbabweLog Book used for all official visitors
USALog Books used for all official visitors

British Nationals (Deaths Overseas)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs how many British nationals have been killed abroad in unexplained deaths in the last 12 months. [33025]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We do not currently collect detailed information on deaths of British Nationals abroad. In financial year 2004–05 there were 3,925 deaths requiring action by our consular staff. These ranged from accidental deaths to natural deaths where we were asked to provide assistance.
2 Dec 2005 : Column 872W


Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the United Nations Security Council to empower the Secretary-General to mediate in Burma in order to bring about national reconciliation and a transition to democracy. [33184]

Ian Pearson: We agree that the UN has a vital role to play in Burma. We strongly support the UN Secretary-General's efforts to promote national reconciliation and democratisation in Burma, and agree with his most recent 'good offices' report of 10 October. We also support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro, and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali, who have not been allowed to visit Burma since November 2003 and March 2004 respectively. We also support the efforts of Ali Alatas, who visited Burma on behalf of the UN Secretary-General earlier this year. We urge the State Peace and Development Council to allow free access for the UN Secretary-General's representatives, and to work closely with the UN and its agencies in the interests of lasting peace and inclusive democratic reform in Burma.


Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress made in bringing former leaders of the Khmer Rouge to justice in Cambodia; and if he will make a statement. [33189]

Ian Pearson: The UK supports the efforts of the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia to bring to justice some of those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity carried out by the Khmer Rouge. A successful outcome to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) will help strengthen accountability, the rule of law and judicial reform in Cambodia and will send a strong international signal that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide will not be treated with impunity.

Progress in achieving a KRT has been slow to date for many reasons and significant hurdles still need to be overcome. The Government of Cambodia has encountered major difficulties in raising the $13.8 million contribution it is expected to deliver. Less than $2 million has been made available to date. Other factors include finding, selecting and training suitably qualified, experienced and politically independent national judicial staff including judges, prosecutors, investigators etc. who can meet international standards. In that context, we welcome the recent appointments of a director and a deputy director by the Government of Cambodia and the UN respectively. Addressing gaps in Cambodia's national legislation to ensure it is compatible with international criminal law has also proved problematic.

The UK has been one of the leading financial contributors to the KRT to date. We provided £500,000 in 2004–05 and expect to do so again for 2005–06 and 2006–07. Bilaterally, EU members have pledged a total of $8.5 million approximately and the European Commission has additionally pledged a further €1 million. We continue to underline the importance we
2 Dec 2005 : Column 873W
attach to a credible Tribunal starting work as soon as possible with the Cambodian authorities at official and ministerial level and have offered our support.


Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the Colombian Government regarding implementation of UN human rights recommendations; and if he will make a statement. [32731]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 1 December 2005]: Human rights lie at the heart of our policy towards Colombia. We regularly urge the Colombian Government to implement all outstanding UN human rights recommendations arising from successive annual reports of the Colombia office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), and have offered our assistance to achieve this goal. When Vice-President Francisco Santos called on Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials in August 2005, we made clear, as Presidency, the importance the EU attaches to active progress by the Colombian Government in implementing the UNHCHR recommendations. We regularly reinforce this message in our contacts with the Colombian Government.

In addition, the EU Ministerial Council conclusions, which were agreed on 3 October 2005, state the willingness of the EU to discuss a mid-year progress on the implementation of the UNHCHR recommendations within the framework of the G24, the group drawn from participants in the 2003 London meeting of international support for Colombia, in Bogota. We will continue to look for ways to encourage and assist the Colombian Government to improve the human rights situation in Colombia. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the FCO (Lord Triesman of Tottenham) discussed human rights issues with Vice-President Santos on 28 November 2005.

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the paramilitary demobilisation in Colombia. [32732]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 1 December 2005]: The UK, in line with the EU, considers that the only viable solution to the armed conflict in Colombia is through a negotiated settlement. We have made it plain to the Colombian Government that the rights of the victims of the armed conflict to truth, justice and reparation must
2 Dec 2005 : Column 874W
be taken into account in the paramilitary demobilisation process. These issues were raised directly with President Uribe during his visit to London on 14 July. The EU expressed its willingness, in the EU Ministerial Council conclusions of October 2005, to work with the Government, institutions and civil society of Colombia, as well as with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Michael Fruhling, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and others who may be involved in monitoring the implementation of the judicial process of the demobilisation of the paramilitary groups. The EU also welcomes the continued engagement of the Organisation of American States in accompanying the demobilisation process. The Conclusions also spelled out specific areas of intervention where the EU is willing to assist Colombia in support of the search for peace. While we do have some concerns over the pace of paramilitary demobilisation, we acknowledge that effective and transparent implementation of the recently agreed Colombian Justice and Peace Law would make a positive contribution to the search for peace in Colombia.


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure the future effectiveness of the Commonwealth. [32476]

Ian Pearson: The UK is committed to a Commonwealth that is effective and able to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, including terrorism and intolerance. We are the largest financial contributor to the Commonwealth, providing 30 per cent. of the Commonwealth Secretariat's funding. We participate fully in Commonwealth organs and rejoined the Commonwealth ministerial action group during the Malta Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 25–27 November.

Next Section Index Home Page