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26 Apr 2006 : Column 1152W—continued

Israeli Air Force

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 April 2006, Official Report, column 537W, what the outcome was of the UK embassy in Tel Aviv raising on 22 March 2006 the issue of the Israeli Air Force operating low-flying aircraft over the Gaza Strip. [65970]

Dr. Howells: At the meeting on 22 March 2006, our Embassy in Tel Aviv re-enforced our position on the effects of low flying aircraft. There have been no subsequent deliberate sonic booms. The last deliberate sonic boom over Gaza that we are aware of was on 2 January 2006.

Libya

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Libya on the detention of women and girls for social rehabilitation. [65684]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the detention of women and girls for social rehabilitation with the Libyan Government. As part of our human rights work with Libya, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has funded a project providing guidance and training for senior managers and individual prison officers. The project will help to address the needs of women in Libyan prisons.

Marshall Plan

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sums are being paid to the US Administration arising out of the Marshall Plan. [65379]

Ian Pearson: The UK completed repayment of aid loans under the Marshall Plan in 1987.

Nepal

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of (a) extortions and abuses perpetrated by Maoist insurgents in Nepal and (b) the importation of explosives and detonators into Nepal by such insurgents. [64636]

Dr. Howells: The Maoists carry out widespread human rights abuses including torture, kidnap, rape, murder and extortion for money. These acts of abuse perpetrated against innocent civilians, including women and children. We condemn these acts of violence. In early April 2006 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that a large number of children were being used by the Maoists forces as helpers and porters during military operations. The OHCHR assessed that 60 civilians were abducted
 
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during March 2006, but OHCHR had seen the return of about 14 of those who were abducted by early April 2006.

During the run up to Municipal elections in 8 February the Maoists killed at least two election candidates and abducted at least one other. Abductions and extortion continued throughout the period covered by the OHCHR report, though we have not seen a figure for such incidents.

We are aware that the Maoist have been involved in importing explosives and detonators into Nepal. The Royal Nepalese Army seized over 5,000kg of commercial explosives and in excess of 30,000 commercial detonators in separate operations, in March 2006, along the Nepal-India border. We cannot judge what proportion of the overall total of Maoist imports this represents.

Parental Access (Germany)

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) diplomatic and consular staff in Germany have had with German authorities on child custody cases in Germany where British parents experience restrictions on legitimate access. [66046]

Dr. Howells: There have been no recent discussions with the German authorities on this issue involving my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary or other Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministers. The FCO provides appropriate consular assistance, when requested, to British nationals involved in disputes over child residence and contact, in conjunction with the Department for Constitutional Affairs as the central authority handling cases brought under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This assistance may include consular staff contacting the relevant German authorities on individual cases. Officials have also attended meetings of a taskforce set up by the Federal Ministry of Justice in Germany to discuss such cases.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British parents have contacted his Department since 1990 regarding assistance with cases relating to access to children involved in custody disputes in the German courts. [66053]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Child Abduction Section, which was established in 2003, does not have full records of all such cases since 1990. The section does, however, have records of 19 cases concerning child residence or contact disputes in Germany since 2003, seven of which are classified as disputes over access. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mike O'Brien) to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on 7 November 2002, Official Report, column 638W, that outlined child contact cases dealt with by consular staff in Germany between 1997 and 2002.
 
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Philippines

Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make representations to the Philippine government concerning the parliamentarians trapped in their offices in Congress under threat of arrest; [65834]

(2) if he will make a statement on the Philippine parliamentarians who are trapped in their offices in Congress under threat of arrest. [65835]

Ian Pearson: Charges have been laid against the parliamentarians in a Regional Trial Court. In response to questions about the case, the Philippine authorities have specifically assured the diplomatic community of their commitment to, and respect for, due process for all those facing charges in respect of the events leading to the imposition of a State of National Emergency in February. Therefore, at present, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans to make representations to the Philippine government.

Sudan

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the extent of the involvement of Salah Abdullah Gosh in human rights abuses in Darfur; [65743]

(2) what assessment he has made of the impact of the relationship between Salah Abdullah Gosh and (a) the British security services and (b) the American security services on his immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses in Darfur. [65746]

Ian Pearson: We do not comment on individual cases or on intelligence matters. But the Government have made clear that there can be no impunity for any of those responsible for crimes committed in Darfur. We sponsored United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, which has now begun its work.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Governments of (a) China and (b) Russia about the proposal to impose UN sanctions on perpetrators of violence in Darfur. [65559]

Ian Pearson: The UK is a leading proponent of sanctions against those who violate human rights or impede the peace process in Darfur. We have identified several individuals from all sides to the conflict who we believe meet this criteria, and on 12 April proposed to the Security Council that they face targeted sanctions under Resolution 1591. Since then we have held discussions on an almost daily basis with our Security Council partners, including China and Russia, on the imposition of sanctions against these individuals. We will continue to press for sanctions against these and other such individuals who meet the criteria.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) financially and (b) military (i) unilateral and (ii) multilateral assistance the UK Government is prepared to give to enforce peace agreement for Darfur. [64642]


 
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Ian Pearson: The Government stand ready to provide assistance in support of a peace agreement for Darfur. We pledged funding in excess of £250 million for humanitarian, development and other assistance to Sudan for the next two years at the Consortium Meeting in Paris in March 2006. We will allocate development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance for Darfur once a peace agreement is reached. We are providing practical and financial support to the African Union Mission in Darfur. We have recently pledged a further £20 million, in addition to the £32 million already provided.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the UK Government has made to the African Union on upholding the United Nations mandate in Sudan. [64645]

Ian Pearson: We welcome the decision by the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council on 10 March to support in principle hand-over of the AU Mission in Darfur to the UN and to request the Chairperson of the AU to work closely with the UN Secretary-General on joint planning. We are working with both the AU and the UN to support a smooth transition.


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