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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of freedom of speech in Thailand; and what discussions she has had with (a) the UK Embassy in Bangkok and (b) the British Ambassador to the United Nations on the matter. 
Mr. McCartney: Our embassy in Bangkok continues to monitor the situation in Thailand and report on restrictions on the freedom of expression. We would like to see the lifting of martial law as soon as possible and the early re-establishment of full democracy. We have been working with our EU colleagues and others to urge the new administration to move rapidly in that direction.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support the UK Government (a) have committed and (b) plan to commit to support democracy in Tonga; what discussions she has had with the New Zealand Foreign Ministry regarding its efforts to bring peace to Tonga; and what discussions she has had with the British high commission in Nukualofa regarding the current conflict. 
Mr. McCartney: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is providing £20,000 for a constitutional adviser to advise the Government of Tonga on constitutional reform and development and on the drafting of a new constitution. This project is being jointly funded with the Commonwealth Secretariat. The adviser will offer assistance on developing and drafting a new constitution which includes making two assessment visits to Tonga. The first visit was in March 2006. The adviser will report back to the Commonwealth Secretariat on the outcome of each of the visits. The FCO has no plans at this stage to provide further support for the constitutional reform process in Tonga.
Officials from the FCO and our high commission in Wellington met with representatives from the New Zealand high commission in London and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, respectively, to discuss the situation in Tonga.
Following the closure of our high commission in Nukualofa in March 2006 responsibility for the UKs relations with Tonga have been handled by our high commission in Suva, Fiji. Officials at the FCO have been in regular contact with our high commission in Suva to discuss the current situation in Tonga.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the (a) arms embargo and (b) restrictions on admission to the European Union included in the restrictive measures against Uzbekistan adopted by the EU on 14 November 2005. 
Margaret Beckett: We believe that the EUs twin approach to Uzbekistan of restrictive measures while keeping open the channels for dialogue has had some impact. The EU measures and the EU-sponsored UN Resolution in November 2005 signalled to Uzbekistan that they could not normalise their foreign relations without movement on human rights and Andizhan. The EU has seen a new willingness to engage on the part of the Uzbek Government. Pierre Morel, the EU Special Representative to Central Asia, visited Tashkent in October. On 8 November an EU-Uzbekistan Co-operation Council took place, the first since 2004. The EU is now exploring Uzbekistans offer of an expert-level meeting on the events in Andizhan and a structured dialogue on human rights.
We are encouraged by the acquittal of the independent journalist Ulugbek Khaidarov on 7 November and the freeing of human rights defender Arabboy Qodirov on 13 November. We hope that these are signals of a readiness on the part of the Uzbeks to review cases against other human rights defenders and independent journalists in prison. We also note the dropping of the case against the non-governmental organisation (NGO), US Development Assistance Inc., and hope that this can lead to the resumption of the work of leading international NGOs in Uzbekistan.
However, we continue to have serious concerns about the overall lack of progress on human rights in Uzbekistan. These are detailed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices latest 2006 Annual Human Rights Report and were behind our decision to co-sponsor a new United Nations General Assembly resolution on Uzbekistan in November 2006.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the restrictive measures against Uzbekistan adopted by the EU on 14 November 2005 were last reviewed (a) by her Department and (b) at the European Council; and what the findings were of each review. 
Margaret Beckett: The UK played an active role when the EU, through October and early November 2006, reviewed the restrictive measures on Uzbekistan against the criteria set out in October 2005. At the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13 November 2006, EU Foreign Ministers extended the arms embargo for 12 months and the targeted visa ban for six months, but also decided to lift the suspension of technical meetings under the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA). This proportionate response by the EU balanced recognition of the lack of progress made by Uzbekistan towards the October 2005 criteria, with acknowledgement of the recent overtures made by the Uzbeks to open up a dialogue on both Andizhan and human rights issues. A structured dialogue through the PCA, will enable the EU to exploit new opportunities for dialogue to improve the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.
EU Foreign Ministers undertook to review these measures again in three months time. This review period signals to the Uzbeks that we expect progress to have been made by then on the proposed EU-Uzbek experts talks on Andizhan and the structured dialogue on human rights. It keeps up the momentum for the
improvements we want to see in Uzbekistan. The review will include an assessment on whether the dialogues on Andizhan and human rights have led to substantive progress on the ground in Uzbekistan.
We remain profoundly concerned about the situation in Uzbekistan. We continue to monitor the situation there closely. We shall continue to judge the Uzbeks by their actions, not just by their words, when we come to review the EUs remaining measures against the EUs criteria.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of (a) freedom of political and religious expression in Uzbekistan and (b) the Uzbek governments observance of human rights. 
The Government of Uzbekistans response to the events of 12-13 May 2005 in Andizhan resulted in a further clampdown on political and religious freedom of expression in Uzbekistan. Those human rights defenders, independent journalists and members of the political opposition who questioned the Uzbek authorities version of events in Andizhan have been subjected to detention, harassment and trials, many of them behind closed doors. These have caused serious international concern.
We are also disturbed by the increasing reports of discrimination, harassment and criminal prosecutions of Muslims accused of religious extremism, as well as harassment of religious minorities, notably Protestant Christians. A new law, passed in June 2006, outlawed the illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious material in Uzbekistan.
Over the past year Uzbekistan has adopted legislation restricting the media and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in contravention of its international obligations, expelled international NGOs from the country, and refused to allow international experts to visit. Our concerns are set out in detail in the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2006 Annual Human Rights Report, of which I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.
Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the Uzbek governments recent agreement to open a dialogue with the EU on human rights. We hope that this will lead to substantive progress in lifting the restrictions on religious and political freedom of expression, as well as a resumption of co-operation by the Uzbek government with international experts in the UN and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The EUs response to these developments is set out in my answer today (UIN 101974).
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UK observers she expects to be in Venezuela for the forthcoming presidential election; when those observers will arrive in Venezuela; and how long after the election she expects them to remain. 
Mr. Hoon: The Government are supporting the European Union election observation mission (EOM) in Venezuela. UK observers form part of the team, which is approximately 120 strong. Most mission members are now in Venezuela. The leaders of the EOM are responsible for deciding exactly when the observers will finish their work and leave the country. We are also aware of an invitation from the Venezuelan electoral authorities to British academics, hon. Members, trade unionists and local councillors to observe the elections.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when UKvisas will provide the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) with the reply dated 11 October 2006 about the case of Mr. K. H. (reference GV100/095780/SU) referred to in the answer of 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 965W. 
The FCO information management system does not hold information on the regional location of work experience candidates prior to 2005. Details on the number of candidates placed each year since 2001 are listed for reference.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reasons were cited for Zimbabwes expulsion from the Commonwealth; under what conditions or circumstances the country would be readmitted; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: Zimbabwe was not expelled from the Commonwealth. It was Mugabes decision to withdraw completely in 2003 after Zimbabwe was suspended by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2002 for failing against the key principles of good governance, enshrined in the Commonwealths Harare Declaration of 1991. These include the right to free and fair elections and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Like all our partners we look forward to the day when a democratic Zimbabwe can rejoin the Commonwealth should it apply to do so. But currently Mugabe pursues policies which hurt rather than help ordinary Zimbabweans. We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to change course by choosing policies that ensure full respect for the Harare Declaration, economic stability and development in Zimbabwe, not humanitarian misery.