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11 Dec 2006 : Column 781W—continued

The UN-appointed International Commission of Inquiry concluded in January last year that the Sudanese Government had not pursued a policy of genocide. But it found that grave violations of human rights and war crimes had been committed by all sides. The Commission also concluded that individuals
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may have had genocidal intent. It will be for the International Criminal Court to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecutions for genocide.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the role of the Sudan Government in the violence in Chad that has spread from Darfur. [105043]

Mr. McCartney: We are very concerned about the current situation in Chad. We assess that it is fuelled partly by cross-border interference from Sudan. We continue to call on both the Government of Sudan and the Government of Chad to stop supporting each other’s rebels and to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement. A UN Assessment Mission travelled to Chad from 28 November to 3 December to look at what the UN could do to improve security in refugee camps and border areas. We are pressing the UN Secretary-General to report back quickly with options for an international presence in the Chad/Darfur border region.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Government of Chad on the violence that has spread from Darfur. [105044]

Mr. McCartney: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Officials met with the Chadian Ambassador on20 November and raised our concerns over the security situation in Chad and the stability of the region as a whole.

We press the Government of Sudan regularly on the need for a viable ceasefire in Darfur and to stop supporting Chadian rebel groups. We also continueto urge both the Government of Chad and the Government of Sudan to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement and respect each other’s borders.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of which countries are providing arms and military equipment to Sudan. [105046]

Mr. McCartney: There is an EU embargo on the sale of arms to Sudan. There is no such UN embargo. China, Russia and Belarus are among the major suppliers of arms and military equipment to Sudan.

There is, however, a UN arms embargo on Darfur. The UN Sanctions Panel of Experts, who monitorthe embargo, has stated that a significant number of weapons continue to enter Darfur from the rest of Sudan and from neighbouring countries, particularly from Chad. The Panel continues to investigate the identity of who is responsible.

The UK is committed to achieving more effective implementation of the embargo. We strongly supported the recent strengthening of the Panel of Experts; and are working to bolster the African Union Mission in Darfur. We continue to consider with Security Council partners what further action may be necessary.


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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the decision by the UN Human Rights Council to reject a resolution calling upon the Sudan Government to prosecute those responsible for atrocities in Darfur. [105049]

Mr. McCartney: The UK pushed for a strong result on Darfur at the Human Rights Council. The EU tabled a resolution which called, among other things, on all parties to assist in bringing to justice those responsible for grave crimes under international law, and for the Human Rights Commissioner to report follow-up at the Human Rights Council in March 2007. However, the resolution on Sudan adopted by the Council on 28 November was unacceptably weak. The UK subsequently played an active role in securing an emergency session of the Human Rights Council on Darfur, to be held on 12 December, where we will push for an expert human rights assessment mission to the region.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the prospects for a UN force with a Chapter VIII mandate being sent to Darfur. [105313]

Mr. McCartney: Chapter VIII of the UN Charter deals with regional arrangements relating to the maintenance of international peace and security and provides for the continued existence of such arrangements provided they are consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN.

It authorises the Security Council to utilise in appropriate cases regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. However, unless the Security Council authorises action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the consent of the Government of Sudan will be required for any such deployment.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development attended a high-level meeting chaired by the Secretary-General of the UN on the future of the African Union (AU) Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in Addis Ababa on 16 November. The meeting agreed deployment of UN light and heavy support packages to AMIS as the precursor to the force becoming a joint AU/UN operation. These conclusions were accepted by the AU Peace and Security Council at its meeting on 30 November. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister telephoned President Bashir on 22 November to urge him to accept this package. We continue to call on him to do so. We remain in regular contact with other nations and with the UN on the issue.

Tajikistan

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) freedom and (b) fairness of the recent elections in Tajikistan. [105186]

Mr. Hoon: The latest Presidential elections in Tajikistan took place on 6 November 2006. 170 international observers, from 32 countries, observed
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the voting and counting on behalf of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

We share the preliminary assessment of the ODIHR election observers. They concluded that democratic practices were not fully tested because of the absence of genuine competition, thus providing voters with only nominal choice. The ODIHR observers noted that significant improvements are required in both the legal framework and a number of technical aspects including a lack of transparency in the decision-making process of the highest level of election administration. On a more positive note, there was some recognition by ODIHR of the efficient administration of the election and some improvements in the candidates’ right to media access, participation of parties in local, but not national, electoral commissions and an improved framework for observers.

On 14 November 2006 the Finnish Presidency issued a statement on behalf of the EU which also reflected these concerns but welcomed the peaceful atmosphere in which the elections took place.

We strongly encourage the Tajik authorities to take this opportunity to work with ODIHR and the OSCE Centre in Dushanbe to address the areas of concern. Along with our EU partners, we stand ready to support the authorities in adopting the necessary reforms.

Uganda

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she plans to seek prosecution of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the International Criminal Court should peace talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda fail. [105339]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) on 21 November, Official Report, column 60W.

UN Troop Missions

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent discussions she has had with UN troop contributor Governments on the conduct of troops on UN missions; [105274]

(2) what recent discussions she has had with UN troops contributor Governments on the behaviour of troops on UN missions towards civilians. [105323]

Dr. Howells: Foreign and Commonwealth Officeand Ministry of Defence officials have regular consultations with leading UN troop contributors, both bilaterally and in the context of UN General Assembly discussion, on a wide range of peacekeeping issues including peacekeeping doctrine, the role of peacekeepers in the protection of civilians, conduct and discipline, combating sexual exploitation and abuse, and the role of women in peace and security.


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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the involvement of UN troops in the ill-treatment of children in (a) Haiti and (b) Liberia. [105319]

Dr. Howells: I have noted with concern recent allegations of the ill-treatment of children by UN peacekeepers in Haiti and Liberia. The UN held a High Level Conference on eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse by UN and non-governmental organisation personnel on 4 December. During this conference, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jane Holl Lute, stated that

The UK will be monitoring the progress of UN follow-up to these allegations closely.

In Liberia, the Government, together with national and international partners, launched a campaign on4 December to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

Zimbabwe

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Government of South Africa on Zimbabwe. [105176]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently discussed the situation in Zimbabwe with the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Zuma, on 21 September at the UN General Assembly. Our officials in South Africa also have regular discussions with their South African counterparts.

South Africa will play a lead role in Zimbabwe’s eventual rehabilitation. We continue to urge South Africa, both as a neighbour of Zimbabwe, and also as a strong voice in the South African Development Community (SADC), to work with SADC partners to address the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Constitutional Affairs

Departmental Staff

Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many staff were employed through employment agencies in (a) her Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest time was for which these temporary workers were employed in each year. [102958]

Ms Harman: My Department has a national contract with Kelly Services Ltd. for the provision of agency staff. Information regarding the average number of staff employed through this agency appears as follows:


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Financial year Average number of agency workers

2001-02

170

2002-03

259

2003-04

283

2004-05

395

2005-06

722


Information relating to workers employed through other employment agencies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The (i) average and (ii) longest length of time these workers were employed by my Department over the last five years is as follows:

Months
Financial year Average length of employment( 1) Longest time of employment( 1)

2001-02

1.5

45

2002-03

3

28

2003-04

3.5

37

2004-05

3.5

48

2005-06

3.5

53

(1 )This figure includes the Public Guardianship Office.

(b) Information related to agencies of DCA

Information regarding the average number of staff employed through employment agencies by each of the DCA's agencies is as follows:

Financial year Average number of agency workers

2000-02

Northern Ireland Court Service

(1)

National Archives

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

2002-03

Northern Ireland Court Service

52

National Archives

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

2003-04

Northern Ireland Court Service

95

National Archives

199

Public Guardianship Office

100

2004-05

Northern Ireland Court Service

49

National Archives

121

Public Guardianship Office

80

2005-06

Northern Ireland Court Service

94

National Archives

167

Public Guardianship Office

74

(1 )Information not held prior to 2002
(2 )Information not held prior to 2003
(3 )Information not available

HM Land Registry does not hold such information centrally and it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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Information regarding the (i) average and (ii) longest length of time these workers were employed by each of the DCA's agencies over the last five years is as follows:

Months
Financial year Average length of employment Longest time of employment

2001-02

Northern Ireland Court Service

(1)

(1)

National Archives

(2)

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

(3)

2002-03

Northern Ireland Court Service

3

11

National Archives

(2)

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

(3)(-)

2003-04

Northern Ireland Court Service

3.5

11

National Archives

(2)(-)

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

(3)

2004-05

Northern Ireland Court Service

4

11

National Archives

(2)

(2)(-)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

(3)

2005-06

Northern Ireland Court Service

3

12

National Archives

(2)(-)

(2)

Public Guardianship Office

(3)

(3)(-)

(1)Information not held prior to 2002
(2)Information not held
(3)Information included in DCA answer

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