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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK
representatives in Colombo have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of (A) the government of Sri Lanka and (B) the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on (1) civilian deaths since and (2) the humanitarian effects of (x) the resumption of major fighting in Sri Lanka in August 2006 and (y) the government's formal withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement on 2nd January 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The conflict and its impact on civilians is the focus of high level discussions between the British and Sri Lankan governments. We are gravely concerned by the humanitarian impact of the conflict on the civilian population. All parties to the conflict need to do more to protect civilians.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in November 2007 in Kampala. He said that we stood ready to support a process of reconciliation and underlined the need for respect for human rights and democracy. During visits by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. Howells) to Sri Lanka in February and July 2007, he expressed deep concern at the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.
The Government do not regularly meet the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). My right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) visited Sri Lanka, including LTTE controlled territory in November 2006, to share his experience of peace-building in Northern Ireland with the parties to the conflict. Officials from our high commission in Colombo and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office meet representatives of a broad range of Tamil views, on a regular basis.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the viability of introducing a no-fly zone in regions of the Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We rule nothing out but we are not currently proposing a no-fly zone for Darfur. We assess that a no-fly zone would restrict essential humanitarian operations and be a major logistical challenge due to the size of Darfur and the lack of available air assets. The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur is mandated to monitor military activity, including flights prohibited by UN Security Council Resolution 1591. We continue to push for its rapid and effective deployment.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the implications of fighting in southern Sudan between the armed forces of Southern Sudan and the Misseriya since late November 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
We are aware of clashes between units of the Sudan People's Liberation Army and armed elements of the Misseriya tribes in Southern Sudan, and that the UN Mission in Sudan personnel are mediating to end the fighting. We continue to press both the Government
of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to deal with the root causes of these clashes and deliver basic services.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the willingness of (a) the government of Sudan, (b) the Sudanese Liberation Army, (c) the Justice and Equality Movement, (d) other rebel groups and (e) the Janjaweed in Darfur to reach a political solution to the civil war; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The African Union and UN Special Envoys assess that there are five main rebel groups in Darfur: the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the United Resistance Front (URF) and three factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/Abdel Wahid, SLM/Abdel Shafie and SLM/Unity). Of these, SLM/Unity and the URF have publicly stated their readiness to participate in political talks, whereas the other three have yet to do so. The Special Envoys are currently talking to all these groups to encourage them to unify and agree common platforms for negotiations with the government of Sudan. The envoys will return to Sudan on 7 April to continue this process and we have urged them to intensify contacts with the movements.
We welcome the government of Sudan's public commitment to attend further political talks, but this commitment must be matched by action that builds confidence with the rebels, including stopping attacks in Darfur and reigning in the Janjaweed militia, as they committed to in the Darfur peace agreement. Similarly the various movements, including JEM, must cease military activity.
The views of wider Darfuri society, including Arab groups, need to be taken into account in the political process. We are urging the Special Envoys and their staff, and the UN Civil Affairs and the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Co-operation (set up as a result of the Darfur peace agreement) to co-operate and work with civil-society in this process.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the government of Russia on its position on Darfur (A) prior to and (B) since Ambassador Vitaly Churkins statement at the UN Security Council meeting on 11 March; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: Following the 11 March UN Security Council consultations on Darfur, the Security Council agreed that Russia, as Council chair, would brief the media: expressing the Councils concern at the worsening security and humanitarian situation; calling for a cease-fire; reiterating the need for all parties to facilitate the UN African Union Mission in Darfurs (UNAMID) deployment; recalling the obligation of all parties to engage in political talks; and looking forward to a positive result between Sudan and Chad in Dakar.
We have regular discussions with the Government of Russia about Darfur. We have urged Russia to support the effective deployment of UNAMID and to use its
influence with the Government of Sudan to press Sudan to fulfil its commitments and end the violence.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the time needed to deploy the remaining 17,000 United Nations and African Union troops projected to operate in Darfur; what the main logistical difficulties are in deploying the full number; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) currently has approximately 10,500 personnel, including troops, police and other civilian staff. We understand further Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions, and supporting units, are due to deploy by the end of May. As one of the most complex and logistically difficult missions the UN has ever undertaken, UNAMID is unlikely to reach full deployment before the end of 2008.
Several African troop contributing countries require assistance with training and equipping prior to deployment; we are supporting with £4 million to assist their deployment. Delays in generating force capabilities, and lack of co-operation from the Government of Sudan, have also slowed deployment of UNAMID. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to expedite UNAMID deployment and we are working closely with the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations in lobbying to fill capability shortfalls.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the government of Sudan on (A) the current and (B) the proposed deployment of troops as part of the African Union/United Nations hybrid operations in Darfur; what concerns have been raised by the government of Sudan; what conditions have been (1) proposed and (2) attached to the deployment; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12 March called for the UN-African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to be in place as quickly as possible and on 19 March announced £4 million to support African troops deploying for UNAMID. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary called for the speedy deployment of UNAMID in a joint statement with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development on 27 February. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, has repeatedly pressed the Government of Sudan to expedite the deployment of UNAMID, including during his visit to Sudan and the AU Summit between 28 January and 1 February. Our ambassador in Khartoum and other officials are also in regular contact with the Sudanese government on this issue.
The terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 reflect an agreement between the UN and the AU that UNAMID should be predominantly African in character. This allows for non-African troop contributions, particularly where specific capabilities are required. The Government
of Sudan has argued that sufficient troops have been pledged by African countries. We have pressed the AU and the UN to choose the troops needed to ensure an effective mission, irrespective of nationality. And we have called on the Government of Sudan to accept the force composition agreed by the UN and the AU and remove all obstacles to the effective deployment of UNAMID.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage the Chinese government to support UN sanctions against Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Darfur with Chinese Premier Wen during his visit to China on 18 January. UK Ministers subsequently agreed with the Chinese Special Envoy for Africa, Liu Guijin, in London on 21-22 February the key goals of:
accelerating the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur deployment so as to improve security and humanitarian access;
re-energising the Darfur political process; and
supporting implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement.
We continue to make clear that the UK will pursue further targeted sanctions against any party that undermines resolution of the Darfur conflict. We have regular discussions with other members of the UN Security Council, including China, that sanctions must be one of a range of measures to help resolve the conflict.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives have had with the governments of (i) the Central African Republic, (ii) Uganda and (iii) the Democratic Republic of Congo on recent activity by the Lord's Resistance Army; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The Government have not had any discussions with the Governments of the Central African Republic, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding recent activity by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). We are aware that discussions regarding the LRA have taken place between these Governments at the regional level.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with President Yoweri Museveni on (a) government negotiations with the Lords Resistance Army and (b) the International Criminal Courts arrest warrant for Joseph Kony; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any discussions with President Museveni. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, discussed the Lords Resistance Army and the International Criminal Court warrants with Ugandan Foreign Minister Kutesa on 10 March in London. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Museveni discussed the conflict in northern Uganda when they met at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala on 24 November 2007.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to President Yoweri Musevenis statement in London on 11 March 2008 and the answer on 13 March 2008, Official Report, column 650W, on Uganda: politics and government, what assessment his Department has made of the (i) impact on the sustainability of a peace agreement in Uganda should Joseph Kony not face charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and (ii) likelihood of a peace agreement being reached if ICC (A) investigations and (B) charges against Joseph Kony are not dropped. 
Meg Munn: We hope that the Lords Resistance Army will sign the Final Peace Agreement with the Ugandan government even if the International Criminal Court warrants are not suspended. The Government considers justice to be an essential part of a sustainable peace and it is vital that those responsible for the terrible crimes committed during the conflict in northern Uganda are held to account.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding the UK has provided for the UN Peacebuilding Fund; what commitments the UK has entered into for further such funding; and what steps he has taken to encourage others to make contributions to the Fund. 
The UK has committed £30 million over three years (2007-09) to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, of which £18 million has been disbursed so far. The UK regularly encourages other contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission.
The UK continues to provide full support to the PBC, working closely with partner countries and with countries on the PBCs agenda. Through our mission
to the UN in New York and our Embassies and the Department for International Development (DFID) offices in Burundi and Sierra Leone, the UK has assisted with the development of the Strategic Peacebuilding Frameworks for both countries and are now engaged in supporting their monitoring and implementation. We are working closely with Brazil, chair of the Country Specific Meeting for Guinea-Bissau, the latter being the most recent country on the PBCs agenda.
We, in particular through the UK Mission to the UN, also work closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), which act as the secretariat to the PBC. DFID has provided US$1 million in support to the PBSO over two years.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives in Washington DC have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the United States Administration on the planned meeting between US Assistant Secretary of State, Christopher Hill and Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Kim Kye-gwan; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We continue to have regular contact with the US Administration and other participants in the Six-Party Talks, including in the week leading up to Assistant Secretary Hills latest talks with Vice-Minister Kim Kye-gwan in Geneva that commenced on 13 March. The UK supports the ongoing Six-Party process and the goal of de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. We welcome the leadership shown by the US, Japan, China and Republic of Korea, and encourage all parties to implement the agreements reached.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of (a) the human rights situation and (b) the transparency of (i) law enforcement agencies and (ii) the court system in Uzbekistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy:
We remain concerned about the overall human rights situation in Uzbekistan for reasons set out in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2007 Annual Human Rights report launched on 25 March 2008. Harassment of human rights defenders is common-place and we are disturbed by reports that Mutabar Tojibaeva has been moved from prison in Tashkent and that her family do not know her whereabouts. Restrictions remain on civil society, non-governmental organisations, media and religious organisations. Set against this, however, the Uzbek authorities have recently taken some positive steps which we welcome. These include the release in February of prominent human rights defenders, the ratification by the Uzbek Parliament in March of two international labour organisation conventions, including on the worst forms of child labour, and the
resumption of prison visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. We hope that this overall positive progress will continue.
There is little transparency in the work of the law enforcement agencies. There is no system for systematically investigating all allegations of torture or corruption, although small numbers of police are punished. There is no independent watchdog to hold police and other law enforcement bodies to account. Transparency in the court system is a little better and most trials are open to the public. Uzbek law provides for closed trials to preserve state secrets or to protect victims and witnesses, but over the past 12 months our embassy in Tashkent has been unable to gain access to trials where these circumstances did not apply.
In January new habeas corpus legislation came into force which transferred the authority to issue arrest warrants from the prosecutor to the courts. This has required comprehensive amendments to the criminal justice system, including to court and police procedures, which should increase transparency and protection of detainees rights. We, and our EU partners, stand ready to assist the Uzbek authorities with support for its practical implementation.
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