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Mr. Hoon: Our Ambassador in Ashgabat has been following the cases of Annakurban Amanklychev, Ogulsapar Muradova and Sapardurdy Khadjiev extremely closely. He has been in regular touch with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Centre in Ashgabat and worked alongside the local EU presidency, who have taken the lead in contacting the Turkmen authorities. The fact that no international observers were allowed into the trial of the three co-accused raises serious questions about whether due process of law was observed.

We are deeply perturbed by the circumstances of the tragic death of Mrs Muradova and we have expressed our profound sympathy to Mrs Muradova’s family. Our ambassador has invited her family to meet him and other EU Heads of Mission. The EU presidency issued a statement on 15 September expressing strong concern about her death, and about the trial, and calling on the Government of Turkmenistan to respect its international obligations and to guarantee the safety of Mrs Muradova’s family members, and of Khadjiev and Amanklychev. The text of the presidency statement is available on the following website:

We note the willingness expressed by the Turkmen Government to pass the post-mortem report to the family and hope that this will clarify the cause of death. Through the OSCE, we have called on the Turkmen Government to safeguard the rights of the family under Turkmen law and made clear that we expect Amanklychev and Khadjiev to be treated humanely in accordance with Turkmenistan’s international obligations.

We and our EU and OSCE partners will continue to follow this case closely.


Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the (a) security situation in Northern Uganda since April 2006 and (b) impact on the security situation of the Ugandan Government’s plan to replace the army with a civilian police force; and if she will make a statement. [89508]

Mr. McCartney: The security situation in northern Uganda has improved considerably through 2006, but remains fragile. The major threats to safety are from the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Karamojong warriors, criminals and road accidents. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against travel to the region.

Since April, the numbers of civilians abducted and killed by the LRA has declined significantly. This has been attributed to the initiation of peace talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda. On 26 August 2006 a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between the two sides, which offers hope for a longer term peace deal and improvement in the security situation.

The Ugandan Government has announced a plan, which we support, to replace the army with a civilian police force in northern Uganda—but this has yet to be implemented.

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Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the prospects for a peace settlement with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; and if she will make a statement. [90160]

Mr. McCartney: The prospects for a peaceful settlement to the long-running conflict in northern Uganda improved when the Government of southern Sudan offered to mediate between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government earlier this year.

The Juba based talks process remains fragile, but the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement on 26 August was an encouraging development. This gave some grounds for hope that permanent peace is possible. But it is too early to say that the conflict is over and there may well be some setbacks as the process develops.

Appointments to the cessation of hostilities monitoring team now need to be finalised, so that it can start its work, and concerted face to face talks on the substance of a comprehensive settlement are crucial.

UN Democracy Fund

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her criteria are for evaluating the success of the UN Democracy Fund agreed at the UN World Summit. [92345]

Mr. McCartney: As set out in its terms of reference, the primary purpose of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is to promote democratisation throughout the world. The UNDEF will provide assistance for projects that build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and initiatives that are intended to ensure the full participation of all groups in the democratic process.

The fund is still developing and consulting on options for its long-term strategy but has begun to operate. In August 2006 the UN announced the first grants for 125 projects, selected from 1,300 proposals, to a value of US$ 36 million (out of US$ 49 million pledged to UNDEF). The UK contributed £350,000 (US$ 609,000) to the fund. The responsibilities of the Office of the UNDEF include arranging monitoring and evaluation of the programme. More details of the terms of reference and work of the fund can be found at:

We expect the fund to contribute to ensuring:

We will measure its success against these indicators.

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UN Peacekeepers

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much financial support the UK provides for training to prevent exploitation and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers. [90183]

Dr. Howells: The UK condemns, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by whomever they are committed and strongly supports the actions of the UN Secretary-General to implement a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach in all United Nation Missions.

Most UN activity in this area is funded through the UN’s Regular and Peacekeeping budgets, to which the UK is the fourth largest contributor. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has introduced a training module covering prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, for mandatory use in pre-deployment training of peacekeepers. It has developed other training tools, including an online e-learning module on standards of conduct, pocket cards and booklets distributed to staff prior to deployment, posters and brochures on sexual exploitation and abuse and human trafficking. The UK has supported this work by providing funding of US $49,125 for the production of a training film on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.

The Ministry of Defence is currently undertaking an audit of the gender content of its pre-deployment training for UN Missions, to ensure that it adequately covers gender awareness training, and raise awareness of the UN Code of Conduct on personal behaviour.

United States

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the United States Administration about the operation of US-based websites run by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement; and if she will make a statement. [91394]

Mr. McCartney: The Government have not made any representations to the United States Administration about such websites.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the feasibility of implementing a system for end-use monitoring comparable to the Blue Lantern system in the United States; and what discussions she has had with officials in the US on this matter. [91447]

Dr. Howells: The Government have not made and has no plans to assess the feasibility of implementing a system for end-use monitoring comparable to the Blue Lantern system in the United States. Nor have I had any discussions with officials in the US on this matter.

All export licence applications from the UK are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria, taking full account of the prevailing
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circumstances at the time of application. Our diplomatic posts monitor local developments closely and note any information which comes to light that military equipment supplied by the UK has been used in a manner inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria. The Government will take this into consideration when assessing any future export licence applications. The Government may also revoke relevant licences and ask the authorities in the country concerned to investigate.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice her Department issued to people travelling to the United States during the heat-wave. [91580]

Mr. McCartney: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintains a web-site and telephone call centre, which offer regularly-reviewed and updated information including specific country and destination advice and general safety travel tips.

No specific travel advice has been issued about the recent heat-wave which affected many parts of the United States.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role has been played by each consulate general in the United States in promoting the role of international carbon emissions trading in combating climate change; and with which US states each has been engaged. [92166]

Mr. McCartney: Activity on climate change is a priority for our US network. Each consulate-general in the United States is active in promoting the Government’s climate change policies, including on carbon emissions trading. This includes engagement with the state and city governments and state legislatures, climate change specialists and scientists, the private sector, and the general public by way of speeches, conferences, exhibitions, and exchange visits to and from the UK.

A specific example is the work of our San Francisco and Los Angeles Consulate-Generals on the UK-California collaboration on climate change and clean energy, launched by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in July. This collaboration will explore the potential for linkage of emissions trading schemes in California and the UK/EU. In addition, the Boston Consulate-General has maintained close relations with officials in the seven northeastern US States developing a regional greenhouse gas initiative, which aims to create a mandatory cap and trade scheme for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why all references to her concern at the use of Prestwick airport by the US Air Force to supply weapons to the state of Israel made in her speech of 27 July 2006 were removed from the version of that speech as it appeared on her Department's website; by whom the removals were made; and if she will make a statement. [91526]

Dr. Howells: On 26 July, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary commented briefly on the Prestwick
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flights issue during a Channel 4 News interview. Her comments were reported in the UK and international media promptly afterwards. However, the major part of that particular interview focused on the situation in Lebanon, which was the top foreign policy news story that week. As such Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials put an edited version of the interview on the FCO website in order to highlight those comments. The FCO reserves the right to edit the content of the FCO website.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has made any representations to the United Nations for it to encourage its members to raise human rights issues with Uzbekistan in (a) trade and (b) other bilateral contacts with that country. [92126]

Dr. Howells: Most recently, we raised issues of concern with the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and torture when he reported on Uzbekistan to the Human Rights Council at the second session in September 2006. Separately, on 2 October, the Human Rights Council examined the human rights situation in Uzbekistan in closed session under the 1503 procedure. In November, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) will consider how the situation in Uzbekistan has developed since last year’s resolution.

Internationally we have supported the efforts of UN special rapporteurs to work with Uzbekistan e.g. on torture, and on the independence of the judiciary. In December 2005, 74 countries supported an EU-sponsored resolution on the human rights situation in Uzbekistan at the UNGA.

Bilaterally and with our EU colleagues we monitor closely the human rights situation in Uzbekistan. We seek clarification on new developments both from reputable human rights organisations in Uzbekistan and from the Uzbek authorities. We draw human rights cases to the attention of the Uzbek authorities both informally and formally, in meetings, through demarches and through declarations.

The EU provides for human rights discussions with Uzbekistan through its Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Uzbekistan, which covers a range of issues including economic and trade relations. In October 2005, the EU adopted an arms embargo and a visa ban against the Uzbek officials directly responsible for the events in Andizhan in May 2005.


Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which embassies use private agencies to process visa applications to visit the UK. [92304]

Dr. Howells: Many of our visa sections in diplomatic missions overseas work with commercial partners, who deliver the customer facing part of the visa process in convenient locations, often with extended opening hours. Commercial partners' services can include couriering documents, giving general information,
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accepting visa applications, collecting fees, organising interviews, and returning passports to customers.

Commercial partners are not involved in, and cannot influence, any part of the process to decide who is eligible for a visa. This remains solely with our staff in visa sections.

A list of missions and their commercial partners is in the following table.

Country Commercial Partner


World Trading Group








VF Worldwide Holdings


































TT Services









South Africa




Sri Lanka













TNT(Bekk Courier)



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