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Ian Pearson: We have been closely engaged in the Somali National Reconciliation Conference and the subsequent political process and continue to work closely with the UN and other members of the international community to achieve a comprehensive and lasting settlement and a return to good governance in Somalia. My noble Friend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development and their officials have met the Transitional Federal President, Speaker and Prime Minister of Somalia on many occasions and have urged them to resolve their differences through dialogue.
They have also met with and fully support the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in encouraging Somali-owned reconciliation initiatives. We are working with other members of the international community to help convene an early meeting of the Transitional Federal Parliament inside Somalia and remain prepared to offer further assistance to reconciliation and rebuilding the Somali state.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring of the human rights situation in Somalia is undertaken by his officials; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: Our ability to monitor the human rights situation in Somalia is severely limited because of the dangerous internal security situation, but as set out in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report on Human Rights 2005, our judgment is that Somalia's population, many of whom have been displaced, both internally and across borders, lacks access to basic economic, social and political rights as well as formal judicial systems.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent communications he has had with the Government of Somaliland; and if he will make a statement on future relations. 
Ian Pearson: My noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, met the Somaliland authorities' Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Edna Adan, on 20 May 2005. During the year he exchanged letters with the Head of the Somaliland authorities, His Excellency Dahir Rayale Kahin, on the London bombings and the Somaliland elections. We acknowledge the progress achieved by Somaliland and hope to help the authorities there to further their democratic and developmental agenda through bilateral and multilateral contributions to aid programmes.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's
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most recent assessment is of criminal violence in Sudan; and what recent reports it has received from the United Nations Mission in Sudan on this issue. 
Ian Pearson: The United Nations Mission in Sudan provides regular reports on the security situation in Sudan. The security situation has improved in the southsince the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, criminal violence and banditry are widespread in Darfur. When my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, visited Sudan from 58 October he made clear to the Government of Sudan that more must be done to improve security in Darfur. The Government are providing almost £32 million to support the African Union Mission in Darfur, which includes a sizeable civilian policing element.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to tackle the ongoing violence and rape in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: We deplore the ongoing rape and sexual violence in Darfur. Such attacks are abhorrent and totally unacceptable. In his latest report on Darfur, the UN Secretary-General notes that reports of sexual assaults are received on a daily basis. The African Union (AU) mission in Darfur is increasingly co-ordinating its patrols to provide protection for women when they leave the camps for Internally Displaced Persons. Where this is happening the number of reported rapes has decreased significantly, and we are encouraging the AU to promote this practice. The UK has provided almost £32 million in support to the AU.
We have made, and continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that more must be done to provide security for the citizens of Darfur, and that perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice. In late December 2005, the UK participated in a mission to assess human rights in West Darfur consisting of representatives of the Government of Sudan, the UN and international community. The mission paid specific attention to sexual violence, and produced a number of recommendations. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to implement these recommendations as a matter of urgency.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what NATO's policy is on the rendition of terror suspects detained by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 20 January 2006]: Troops deployed under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are able to arrest and detain by virtue of the authorisations permitting use of all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate contained in, most recently, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1623 (2005), and by agreement with the Government of Afghanistan. NATO-agreed ISAF detention policy is that individuals should be transferred to the Afghan authorities at the first opportunity and within 96 hours or released.
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Ian Pearson: The Government's policy on international treaties is that we only move to ratification once UK law is in compliance. In order to comply with the commitments contained in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption it was necessary, inter alia, to introduce secondary legislation under the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 (Enforcement of Overseas Forfeiture Orders) and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders). The relevant Orders in Council came into force by 1 January 2006. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now in the process of drafting the instrument of ratification. This requires the Secretary of State's signature and must be formally presented to the depository organisation, in this case the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The process should be completed early in 2006.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members of the UK delegation to the 2006 United Nations Human Rights Convention in Geneva; and what issues the delegation proposes to bring beforeit. 
Ian Pearson: The UN World Summit on 1416 September 2005 agreed to create a new UN Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights. Negotiations on the mandate, functions and other elements of the Council are ongoing in New York. Their conclusion and its timing will influence the format of this year's Commission on Human Rights, and the work that it will undertake. For this reason it is not yet possible to list the UK's delegation, although we can confirm that it will be headed by the UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, ambassador Nick Thorne. For the same reasons, no decisions have been taken on what issues we might bring before the Commission. We expect to work closely with EU and other partners in ensuring a smooth transition from the Commission to the Human Rights Council.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the EU-Morocco Fishing Agreement on the peace process in the Western Sahara. 
The UK fully supports the United Nations process, including the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, to assist the parties to achieve a political solution to the question of Western Sahara. The EU-Morocco fisheries agreement is an EU bilateral partnership agreement and should have no effect on the question of the status of Western Sahara being dealt with under the UN process.
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Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress of decolonisation of the Western Sahara; and when he expects a referendum to be held. 
Dr. Howells: The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and his new Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. On 18 January 2006, Mr. van Walsum briefed the UN Security Council on progress. The UK will now consider his comments carefully.
On 28 October, the Security Council unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1634 which renewed the mandate for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. The Government supported this. There are, however, no plans for a UN referendum to be held in the near future.
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