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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Chinese authorities on demonstrators and other human rights activists arrested as a result of their interventions over the situation in Tibet. 
Meg Munn: We regularly urge the Chinese Government to protect the right of all individuals to peaceful expression of their views on all issues. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang on several occasions, since the recent unrest in Tibet, urging respect for human rights in Tibet, including the right to freedom of expression. His officials have raised the issue of arrests directly with the Chinese authorities.
In addition, following the unrest in March, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took part in the informal Gymnich meeting of EU Foreign Ministers from 28 to 29 March. EU Foreign Ministers expressed their concern over Tibet, calling for an end to violence and asking that arrested persons be treated in conformity with international standards.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the recent sentences handed down to seven nuns by the Chinese authorities in relation to the March and April 2008 protests in Tibet; and whether he has made any representations to the Chinese authorities about the sentences. 
Meg Munn: We continue to receive a range of reports concerning the detention and arrests of numerous individuals in relation to the recent unrest in Tibet, including nearly 100 nuns in Khardze County, Sichuan Province. Together with EU partners, we continue to urge the Chinese Government to ensure due process for all detainees, including access to legal counsel of choice and access for independent observers to all trials. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary raised these concerns with their Chinese counterparts on several occasions since the protests. The EU raised these concerns at the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which took place in Slovenia on 15 May.
The blogs are now part of the new FCO web platform. The ongoing costs of the blogs are included in the overall costs of the web platform, details of which were given by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn), on 30 January 2008, Official Report, column 398W.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the status of the UN Peacekeeping Force located in the Ethiopia-Eritrea border zone. 
Meg Munn: The status of the UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) is currently being discussed at the UN Security Council, as the mission cannot fulfil its mandate because of the restrictions placed on it by Eritrea.
In February, UNMEE began to re-locate from the Temporary Security Zone, a strip of land between the Ethiopian and Eritrean army lines (running close to the Ethiopian/Eritrean border) established under the auspices of the Algiers Agreement. The re-location is now largely complete with just a small contingent on the Ethiopian side of the border and a small number of troops, guarding equipment, in Asmara, Eritrea.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals for (a) directives, (b) regulations and (c) other legislative instruments were put forward by the European Commission in each month since January 2007. 
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether representations have been made to the government of Iran on the arrest of a number of prominent individuals who are adherents of the Baha'i faith in that country. 
We are deeply concerned by the arrests of the informal Baha'i leadership in Tehran on 14 May and the ongoing persecution of the Baha'i community in Iran. We remain committed to pressing the government of Iran to address its poor human rights record, including by protecting the right to religious freedom and ending the discrimination of the Baha'is in Iran. Following a recommendation by the UK, the EU issued a public declaration on 21 May which expressed serious concern about the continuing systematic discrimination and harassment of the Iranian Baha'is on the grounds of their religion and
called for the release of the detained individuals. We will continue to raise this issue with the Iranian authorities.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the circumstances and nature of the démarche by the Iranian government to the UK ambassador in Tehran on 12 May 2008 were; what response the Government made; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Safari called in our ambassador in Tehran on 12 May. He raised a number of ongoing bilateral issues, including the recent Court of Appeal judgment on the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MeK). Mr. Safari expressed concern about the verdict and gave an account of terrorist acts which the MeK had committed over the years. Our ambassador took note and handed over a copy of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's statement on the judgment, which set out the Government's position on the verdict.
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions with his US counterpart on the political situation in Iraq, covering a wide range of issues including how best to support the democratic Government of Iraq in their efforts to deliver security, political stability and economic growth for the Iraqi people.
Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the US authorities on the case of Krishna Maharaj; whether British Government representatives will attend the June clemency hearing in Tallahassee; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote to Governor Crist on 12 May in respect of the outstanding plea for clemency for Mr. Maharaj. A consular official plans to attend the June clemency hearing.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the scale and nature of arms transfers from Chad to Darfur-based rebel groups; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We understand that the Governments of Chad and Sudan have been supporting each other's rebels, including through transfers of equipment and arms. Through the UN and EU, and in bilateral contacts, we have called on both governments to fulfil their commitments under the Dakar Agreement of 13 March 2008 and previous agreements to end immediately their support to each other's armed groups.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the situation in Abyei, Sudan on clashes between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and local militias; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We are aware of the clashes between the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army and local militias from 14-17 May in Abyei, which resulted in the displacement of approximately 50,000 people from the town. A local cease-fire has been brokered by the UN Mission in Sudan.
My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development and my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the issue of the disputed border between North and South Sudan during their meetings with the Sudanese Foreign Minister of 28-30 April. They urged the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to engage with the Assessment and Evaluation Commission as a suitable body to broker a resolution for the border disputes.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British expatriates are living in Khartoum; what assessment he has made of their safety following the recent attacks by rebel groups on the city; and if he will make a statement. 
We are not aware of any specific targeting of British nationals during the recent unrest and the security situation in Khartoum is now becoming more stable. However, we will continue to monitor this closely, in liaison with other diplomatic missions and international organisations as well as the Government of Sudan.
During the recent attacks, our embassy established a 24-hour operations centre to answer inquiries and provide advice and support to UK nationals on the latest security developments in and around Khartoum. This information was transmitted via our regularly updated Travel Advice and the Warden's network already in place in Khartoum.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many deaths of British citizens have been reported in holiday resort areas in (a) Spain, (b) Italy and (c) Greece in each of the previous five years. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: We do not maintain records of deaths specifically in resort areas. The following table provides the number of deaths of British nationals, including both UK visitors and UK residents, which required action by consular staff throughout Spain, Italy and Greece in each of the financial years from 2002-03 to 2006-07. All three countries were in the top five European destinations for UK tourists in 2006-07, and have a high number of UK residents.
|Number of deaths of British nationals requiring action by Consular staff|
|Financial y ear|
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has made to revisit the proposed Lisbon treaty in the event of a no vote in the forthcoming referendum in the Republic of Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Lisbon treaty shall enter into force only after being ratified by all 27 member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. In the UK, the EU (Amendment) Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords. The UK does not speculate on the ratification processes of the Lisbon treaty in other member states.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the US Government requesting the disqualification of evidence extracted by torture in the trial of 9/11 suspects. 
Dr. Howells: The Military Commissions Act, the US legislation which applies to the Military Commissions designed to try unlawful enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, mandates that evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible. Admissibility of evidence in practice will be for the Military Commissions themselves to determine with respect to the individual cases brought. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has raised concerns about the implementation of the Military Commissions process with the US.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the effects of the political situation in Zimbabwe on that countrys education system. 
Meg Munn: The education system, like so much of the infrastructure in Zimbabwe, has suffered as a result of the Mugabe regimes economic and political mismanagement. Many professional teachers have left the country, unable to survive on the low wages in the hyper-inflationary economy. Of those who have remained, many are now the targets of state-sponsored violence and intimidation because they acted as polling agents in the recent elections. This is only serving to encourage more teachers to leave Zimbabwe and further debilitate the education system. As a result of the economic crisis, schools now charge exorbitant user fees. Whereas in 2002 over 90 per cent. of children were in school, that figure is now thought to be fewer than 70 per cent.
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