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Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to seek the restitution of property owned by British subjects and taken by the Communist regime in Poland after the Second World War. 
Dr. Howells: There is currently no property restitution law in Poland. A draft law was under discussion in the previous Polish Parliament, prior to elections on 25 September 2005. The new Government will probably look at the issue anew, so it is unlikely that a new property restitution law will be agreed soon. It is possible to pursue claims through the Polish courts, but the British embassy in Warsaw does not have sufficient resources to assist individual cases. A list of English-speaking lawyers is, however, provided on request. We have lobbied the previous Polish Government to improve the law in the area of property restitution on behalf of all British citizens with claims, and we will do the same with the new Government.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Horwood) of 2 December 2005, Official Report, column 879W, on private military companies, what the duration is of the contracts with (a) ArmorGroup and (b) Control Risks Group; whether the contracts specify particular locations; and whether they include employment of local labour. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has two security contracts with Amorgroup Services. The first is for an armed guarding force in Iraq, which expires on 30 June 2006. The second is for close protection teams in Afghanistan, which expires in December 2005 but has an option to extend for two years.
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The FCO has three security contracts with Control Risks Group. One is for close protection teams in Iraq, which expires on 30 June 2006. The second provides armed guarding forces in Saudi Arabia, which expires in September 2006 but has an option to renew for one year. The third is to provide guard forces for our missions in Beijing, Hong Kong, Cairo and Moscow, which expires in September 2006 but has an option to extend for two years.
The contracts do not refer to the employment of local labour but both companies employ local nationals to support their operations.
The Iraq security contracts are due to be re-tendered next year.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by his Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. 
Dr. Howells: Joyce Quin (Labour Party) was appointed to the Wilton Park Academic Council in November 2005 by my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Triesman of Tottenham).
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the UK Government have given the Iraqi court conducting the trial of Saddam Hussein. 
Dr. Howells: The Government have provided capacity building training to the Iraqi High Tribunal (formerly known as the Iraqi Special Tribunal) in international law and procedures for trial judges, prosecutors and investigators. The Government also funded the visit of a witness protection expert in August 2005 and contributed to an international fund to provide an International Special Adviser to the trial chamber.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the security situation and (b) the strength of democratic institutions in Sierra Leone. 
The overall security situation in Sierra Leone is generally calm, but fragile. We agree with the United Nations (UN) assessment that the situation is sufficiently improved to allow the full departure of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) by the end of 2005. There has been progress on improving the training, leadership and professionalism of the Sierra Leone army and police forces. A UK-led International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT) has aided much of this reform by close co-operation with the army, and will remain in Sierra Leone until at least 2010. They currently have approximately 100 personnel in country. We have also provided support to the police in a training and reform programme, which has left them
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better able to deal with internal security. Following the arrest of opposition leader Mr. Charles Margai, the police have so far dealt in a competent and low-key way with resulting public disturbances.
Sierra Leonean institutions remain generally weak and lacking in capacity. Much has been achieved since the end of hostilities in 2002, but much work remains. An Anti-Corruption Commission is functioning well. A civil service reform programme is under way. Local councils exist, but lack capacity and resources. The judiciary is overstretched and under-resourced. Parliament lacks the necessary resources to allow it to exercise full powers of oversight. The UK is assisting in the development of democratic institutions, including assistance to the judiciary and police through a £25 million project, assistance to the civil service reform programme and wide-ranging governance and anti-corruption support. But the 11 years of civil war have left enormous deficits in institutional capacity, which is slow to recover.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the personal security and freedom of Charles Margai, opposition leader in Sierra Leone. 
Ian Pearson: Mr. Charles Margai, leader of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) was arrested on 7 December, and transferred to Bo for legal proceedings to begin. He was bailed by Bo Magistrates Court on 8 December. His court hearing is scheduled for 16 December. The charges relate to incidents on 18 November in Bo, when supporters of Mr. Margai clashed with the entourage of Solomon Berewa, the Vice President.
We have called on all parties, their leaders and supporters in Sierra Leone to act moderately and responsibly, and to avoid any actions or statements that could intensify the situation. We further hope that the court proceedings against Mr. Margai will proceed swiftly, and according to due process. Through our high commission in Freetown we remain in close touch with all parties, including those acting in Mr. Margai's defence, and we continue to monitor developments closely.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2005, Official Report, columns16466W, on Sir Christopher Meyer, if he will place in the Library copies of (a) all relevant correspondence from (i) Sir Christopher Meyer and (ii) his publishers and (b) the responses to that correspondence. 
Copies of the correspondence between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and SirChristopher Meyer and between the Cabinet Office and his publishers about his book have been placed in the Library of the House.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to encourage the protection of religious freedoms in South East Asia. 
Ian Pearson: The promotion of human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience and religion, is central to our foreign policy. We condemn instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith or belief, wherever they happen and whatever the religion of the individual or group concerned.
Where states fail to implement their obligations under international human rights law, we consider what action we can take on a case-by-case basis and we continue to raise our concerns in relevant international fora. Both bilaterally and with our EU partners, we regularly raise specific cases of religious persecution with the governments concerned, and take every opportunity to urge states to pursue laws and practices which foster tolerance and mutual respect and to protect religious minorities against discrimination, intimidation and attacks.
We take every appropriate opportunity to press the governments in the region to adhere to their international human rights obligations and to guarantee the right of all religious groups to practice their faith freely.
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