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Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the UK has put forward for protecting civilians caught in the fighting between insurgents and the allied Ethiopian and government troops in Somalia. 
Meg Munn: The Government attach great importance to the protection of civilians. In Somalia, the current insurgency attacks tend to be indiscriminate and therefore unfortunately do sometimes involve civilian casualties. We urge the Transitional Federal government of Somalia and the government of Ethiopia to ensure their response to counter this threat is always proportionate and seeks to minimise civilian casualties.
The UK strategy for handling Somalia in the long-term aims to bring peace and stability to the country. This includes supporting the transitional political process, supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia and contributing to the UN Rule of Law programme, which provides training for a civilian police force.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment the Government have made of the potential effects on the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia of insurgency activity in the country. 
The Government assess that insurgent attacks in Somalia continue to damage the hopes and prospects of ordinary Somalis. Along with our international partners, we are committed to assisting the Transitional Federal Government and institutions to rebuild Somalia
through the process envisaged in the Transitional Federal Charter. We hope that the insurgents will see that an inclusive political process is the only way that a successful transition can be delivered and cease to use violence in pursuit of their aims.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking along with their EU partners to assist the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to tackle insurgent activity. 
Meg Munn: The Government are supporting the efforts of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to tackle the insurgency. The UK, with our EU partners, provides a range of security assistance programmes to the TFG to give it a greater capacity to tackle insurgency in the long term.
This includes support for the African Union Mission to Somalia deployment. The UK and EU partners have provided more than €30 million to support the mission. The UK and EU partners also support the UN Rule of Law programme that trains Somalian civilian police officers.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer to the right hon. Member for Richmond of 21 June 2007, Official Report, column 2214W, on Sudan: armed conflict, what progress has been made in considering the measures to improve air monitoring in Darfur; and what further steps the Government are taking with its international partners on this matter. 
Meg Munn: We are working with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the African Union (AU), the government of Sudan and international partners for the prompt deployment of an effective UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) force to improve stability and security in Darfur. This has been the priority since UN Security Council Resolution 1769 was passed on 31 July mandating the UNAMID force. Among other activities, we hope that UNAMID will improve monitoring of military activity in the region.
We welcome the recent cessation of hostilities that the government of Sudan announced at the start of peace talks on 27 October. We are pressing all parties to sign up to a cessation of hostilities with immediate effect and to engage on the peace process.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan following the arrest of the British primary school teacher Gillian Gibbons in Sudan on 26 November. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary summoned the Sudanese ambassador twice on 29 November to express our concerns in Ms Gibbons case. He also spoke to the Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister on 29 November and 1 December.
Meg Munn: The UK is filling five key posts in the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) which will be the main mechanism for civil society engagement in the African Union/United Nations-led Darfur Political Process and in longer-term reconciliation and rehabilitation in Darfur. These posts, which consist of a Chief of Operations, a Communication Officer and three Field Co-ordinators, will strengthen existing capacity and ensure that the DDDC can deliver a comprehensive and scaled-up plan for taking forward civil society engagement.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that Arab communities are represented in the African Union-UN led Darfur peace process. 
Meg Munn: The UK has committed £1 million to support the Darfur Political Process, led by the African Union (AU) and UN. We have made clear to the AU and UN that effective consultation with Arab communities is essential for an inclusive process.
The UK has committed over £2 million since July 2006, to support the AU in communicating the benefits of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the current political process to the people of Darfur. As part of this support, the AU will work with the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) to hold a conference for Darfurian Arabs in early December. This will address concerns of the Arab tribes and further their engagement in the political process through the DDDC, which will be the main mechanism for civil society engagement in the political process and in longer-term reconciliation and rehabilitation in Darfur.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likelihood of substantial progress being made in the December peace process talks for Darfur. 
Meg Munn: The start of the Darfur political talks in Libya on 27 October and the announcement of a cessation of hostilities by the government of Sudan were welcome steps towards ending the conflict in Darfur. The UK is currently supporting the African Union and United Nations in encouraging the rebel movements to unify further and agree on common platforms. Good progress has already been made, particularly among the rebel groups based in Juba. We hope to see further, significant progress in rebel preparedness for negotiations during December. Only a political process can provide a sustainable solution to the Darfur conflict.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government (a) have offered and (b) plan to offer to the UN-African Union force in Darfur, Sudan. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 29 November 2007]: We are providing advice and support through a Brigadier who has deployed as Chief of Staff for the UN-African Union (AU) force in Darfur (UNAMID) and through UK military staff in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. We are supporting the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in calling on countries to provide helicopters and ground transportation for UNAMID. We continue to contribute towards troop rotations for the AU Mission in Sudan, which will become part of the UNAMID force. Financial support to the UNAMID mission will be through assessed contributions to the UN.
Meg Munn [holding answer 29 November 2007]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has discussed Darfur several times with the UN Secretary-General, including by telephone on 11 September and at the UN General Assembly in New York on 28 September.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan on the establishment, funding, staffing and equipping of the UN-African Union force in Darfur, Sudan. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 29 November 2007]: We have repeatedly pressed the Government of Sudan not to obstruct a prompt and effective deployment of the UN-African Union (AU) hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) and to accept the force composition agreed by the UN and the AU.
Responsibility for the generation, staffing and equipping of the force lies with the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations, in consultation with the AU. We are working closely with the Department for Peacekeeping Operations in calling on countries to provide helicopters and ground transportation for UNAMID.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what safeguards have been included in (a) UK and (b) EU agreements on sharing intelligence with countries that permit torture and corporal punishment within domestic law to exclude any information obtained by torture as defined in international law. 
David Miliband: Torture is one of the most abhorrent violations of human rights and human dignity, and its use is absolutely prohibited under international law. We unreservedly condemn the use of torture and have made it an important part of our foreign policy to pursue its eradication world-wide. Where we are helping other countries to develop their own counter-terrorism capability, we ensure our training or other assistance promotes human rights compliance.
The Government, including the Intelligence and Security Agencies, never use torture for any purpose, nor would we instigate others to do so. Our rejection of the use of torture is well known by our partners and our intelligence agencies routinely seek assurances from foreign liaison services on humane treatment of detainees.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of levels of support for EU accession among (a) the people of Turkey and (b) of Turkish Cypriots; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The UK believes that strong popular support is key to the success of enlargement and fully supports initiatives ensuring that citizens better understand the process of enlargement. The UK notes that the most recent Eurobarometer Report (April to May 2007), found that 57 per cent. of Turks polled replied that EU membership would be a good thing. The UK has not conducted an independent assessment of levels of support for EU accession among Turkish Cypriots. However, our contacts with a range of Turkish Cypriot interlocutors and recent polls indicate that support for EU accession is waning. This underlines the need for the speedy implementation of the UN's 8 July 2006 Agreement leading to a just, comprehensive and durable settlement of benefit to all Cypriots, as well as the implementation of the EU Commission's projects which will improve the quality of life of ordinary Turkish Cypriots and bring them closer to the EU.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the (a) position adopted by the leadership of the Lords Resistance Army and (b) effect of this position on the peace talks being held with the Government of Uganda in Juba. 
Meg Munn: The leadership of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) remains publicly supportive of the Juba peace talks. The Government welcome the current consultations being carried out in northern Uganda between the victims of the conflict and the LRA negotiating team. We are hopeful that a deal can be concluded early in 2008, but recognise that several difficult issues still need to be resolved.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his strategy is for (a) increasing the UKs anti-whaling efforts, (b) recruiting more pro-conservation countries to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and (c) encouraging IWC members who have voted with Japan in the past to use their votes for whale conservation. 
Meg Munn: The UK plays a prominent role in building and maintaining the coalition of anti-whaling countries within the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In advance of the 2007 annual meeting in Anchorage, the UK and its like-minded allies recruited a further six countries into the IWC, with the net result that the pro-whaling majority in that organisation was overturned. In a further response to UK lobbying efforts, several other countries have indicated willingness to support our opposition to Japanese whaling and to join the IWC in time for next years annual meeting.
British embassies and missions will shortly deliver to certain governments an updated version of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publication Protecting WhalesA Global Responsibility as part of a lobbying campaign to encourage more countries to join the IWC, to strengthen further the global opposition to commercial whaling.
UK diplomatic posts in all the relevant capitals are briefed, and engage in discussion with their counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity. The UK, together with its like-minded allies, lobbies the governments of the countries that vote with Japan at the International Whaling Convention to ensure that they are in no doubt as to the importance we attach to whale conservation.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his definition of scientific whaling is; what definition the Japanese Government uses of scientific whaling; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The UK believes that any scientific whaling should be confined to non-lethal research, and should be undertaken only if relevant proposals have been approved by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The right of member states to issue permits for the killing of whales for scientific purposes is enshrined in article VIII of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the IWCs parent treaty. However, Scientific purposes are not defined by the Convention. Furthermore, we doubt that the authors of the Convention anticipated that parties would undertake research on the scale now practised by Japan.
Contrary to Japans claims, its research programmes have not met with universal support or acclaim from the IWC Scientific Committee. That committee has not endorsed this research and has expressed many reservations.
Japan says its scientific whaling programmes are essential to understand better whale populations and the ecosystems in which they reside. They state that a range of information is needed for the management and conservation of whales, such as population, age structure, growth rates, reproductive rates, feedingand that this can only be obtained through lethal research.
The UK has consistently voiced its opposition to Japanese scientific whaling. Like most IWC members, the UK does not believe that scientific research can justify the large-scale killing of whales. In our view, Japans research programmes are deeply flawed.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of China in the case of Yoo Sang-joon, a North Korean on trial in China; with particular reference to the potential repatriation of Yoo Sang-joon to North Korea.