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Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to seek to secure the release of political prisoners in Burma in the last 12 months. 
Over the last 12 months my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers have raised the need for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma on many occasions with key countries in the region including China, India, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Our ambassador in Rangoon has also repeatedly raised the issue with ministers in the military Government. In
October 2007 we helped to secure unprecedented UN Security Council action on Burma, which included a clear demand for the early release of political prisoners. This demand was reaffirmed by the UN Security Council in May under UK chairmanship. We continue to support the UN Secretary-General's efforts to work on the release of prisoners. The EU has also made its position clear, and with strong UK support, strengthened sanctions against the regime in response to the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests last autumn, when many political activists were detained. Our embassy in Rangoon continues to inquire about specific cases with political prisoner support networks and those non-governmental organisations concerned with prisoner welfare.
While we welcome the release during September of a small number of political prisoners, it is important to remember that arbitrary arrests continue, and more than 2,000 political prisoners remain in detention.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political and humanitarian situation in Burma; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The military regime is determined to maintain its hold on power regardless of the cost and suffering of the people of Burma. The junta's Roadmap to disciplined democracy', including a new constitution and elections planned for 2010, is designed to entrench military rule behind a facade of civilian government. The process excludes the opposition and meaningful participation by the ethnic groups. Fundamental rights are consistently ignored. Over 2,000 political prisoners remain in detention, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and other pro-democracy leaders. Ethnic minority groups have been methodically marginalised. Against this backdrop, we will continue to do all we can to generate international pressure for a peaceful transition to democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. In particular, we will continue to give our full support to the UN Secretary-General and his efforts to break the current deadlock.
The humanitarian situation is of serious concern across the country. One third of the countrys population lives on less than one third of a dollar a day, 10 per cent. do not have enough to eat, half of Burma's 20 million children do not complete primary school, and 70 per cent. of the population is at risk from malaria. The protests of August and September 2007 were sparked by this ever increasing poverty, and people's deep frustration with the economic and political failures of the Burmese regime. Relief aid for those affected by Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma in May, is now getting through with greater co-operation from the Burmese regime than it showed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. However, as many as 300,000 people remain highly vulnerable. The UK is committed to supporting the post-Cyclone Nargis relief effort and remains the biggest bilateral donor, contributing £45 million. UK aid for Cyclone Nargis is delivered through the UN, Red Cross and international and local non-governmental organisations to ensure that relief supplies are properly distributed to cyclone victims and do not benefit the regime.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of a military escalation in Karen state, Eastern Burma; and what steps his Department plans to take to seek to prevent military action against civilians there. 
Bill Rammell: Our embassy staff in Rangoon are not granted direct access to Karen State to confirm reports of increased military activity but there is a history of fighting between the Burmese military and Karen groups. This only increases the humanitarian crisis facing the thousands of displaced people living near or on the Thai-Burma border.
The continued violence in Karen state is regrettable and highlights the need for a comprehensive and just settlement of Burma's ethnic conflicts. Stability and territorial integrity are important to all nations and the continued neglect of the needs of the people of Burma by the regime is at the root cause of conflict in many parts of the country. We regularly emphasise to the Burmese regime, and to countries in the region, the need for the full and fair participation of ethnic nationalities in the political process as key to a durable solution to Burma's problems. There can be little prospect of national reconciliation without genuine recognition of their political, economic and social rights.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations the Government has made to the Colombian Government on attacks on human rights defenders. 
Gillian Merron: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stressed the UK's support for the work of civil society organisations and human rights defenders to the Colombian Foreign Minister when they met in London on 9 October, which I reiterated when I spoke to the Colombian Foreign Minister on 16 October.
We have repeatedly made clear to the Colombian Government that human rights defenders work should be protected and promoted. We have done so publicly, with my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) commenting as the Minister of State with responsibility for South America in April 2008:
The situation for trade unionists, human rights defenders and indeed other Colombians continues to be very serious, I call on the Colombian Government to do its utmost to ensure that the brave people of Colombia striving for the protection of human rights are allowed to do their vital work safely and without fear, and that the perpetrators of threats, violence and murder are pursued and held accountable for their actions, whoever they are.
We are matching this advocacy with practical help, through assistance to help strengthen civil society organisations and the role they play in democracy, and raising cases with the authorities to ensure that swift action is taken and justice is seen to be done.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience currently held in custody in Cuba. 
Gillian Merron: The Cuban Government retains tight control over information about their prisons. It is therefore difficult to put an exact figure on the number of political prisoners. Four prisoners of conscience were conditionally released during 2007 and subsequently exiled to Spain. However, Amnesty International consider, in their latest 2008 report, that there are at least 62 prisoners of conscience currently in Cuba.
In January 2008 the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an unofficial source of human rights information inside Cuba, counted 234 cases of political prisoners. In the Commission's August report, it notes an overall decline in numbers of political prisoners but an increase in temporary detentions and harassment against dissidents. This is consistent with reporting we have received from our embassy in Havana.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the names and addresses of each organisation that supplied goods and services to his Department in 2007-08, based on the purchase order data held in the Department's financial database. 
Gillian Merron: Information about some organisations, that have supplied goods or services to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, cannot be released for reasons of security. It is not possible to produce a sanitised version of this information without incurring a disproportionate cost.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) cost, (b) print run and (c) distribution of the Diplomatic Service List was in the last financial year before its discontinuation. 
Gillian Merron: The Diplomatic Service List was last published by The Stationery Office in 2006. They met all production costs for a print run of 2,200 copies. Of these, 1,020 copies were purchased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at a discounted cost of £18,400. The Stationery Office sold the balance to other Whitehall Departments and the public; typical customers including local councils, reference and public libraries, parliamentarians and researchers.
Staff costs, incurred by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, totalled one full time member of staff, to manage the information in a dedicated database, and short-term limited contributions from three staff during the annual collation process.
Caroline Flint: 22 British citizens have been selected to participate in the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia. 19 of them are already in Georgia performing monitoring duties with the Mission. The remaining three are due to deploy to Georgia shortly in order to take up posts in the Mission's headquarters.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Indian Government on terrorism (a) in India and (b) internationally; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The UK has a wide-ranging and constructive relationship with the Indian Government on countering terrorism, both in India and internationally. UK Ministers regularly discuss the issue with their Indian counterparts, most recently on 26 September when my right Hon. Friend the Prime Minister met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York, and on 15 September when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice, met Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil in New Delhi. The Government condemn acts of terrorism wherever they occur, including those which have taken place in India over recent months. We are committed to working with the Indian Government to reduce the terrorist threat posed to both our countries.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) the United States and (b) Russia on the respective proposals in each country to modernise their nuclear weapons programme and the compatibility of such modernisation with obligations under Article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. 
Bill Rammell: We regularly discuss with the United States and Russia the importance of action to reinforce the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, including through demonstration of our commitment to Article VI. Under their bilateral strategic arms control arrangements, by 2012 both countries will have reduced their total stockpiles of strategic nuclear warheads by around 80 per cent. since the end of the cold war. We have welcomed that progress, and encouraged both countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals even further in due course.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department provides for British nationals seeking information on relatives who have died abroad. 
Gillian Merron: Information on the assistance the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides to bereaved relatives is set out in our booklet "Guide for Bereaved Families" and a leaflet on "Death Overseas", which is available in hard copy or at the following FCO website addresses.
http ://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/2855621 /death-overseas
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Pakistan on the murder of members of the Ahmadiyya community. 
Bill Rammell: We have not discussed the murder of these two members of the Ahmadiyya community with the Government of Pakistan, but we have made joint representations with our EU partners to the Government of Pakistan about the discrimination to which the Ahmadiyya community is subjected.
We are aware that the Sindh Minister for Information will be conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding these murders and our High Commission in Islamabad will follow its progress.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his United States counterpart on the allegations made by Radovan Karadzic regarding an agreement with the US to afford him immunity from arrest; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: No discussions have taken place with the US Government on allegations by Radovan Karadzic that the US offered him immunity from arrest. The US Department of State issued a statement on 31 July in response to these allegations, available on its website:
The UK strongly supports the efforts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to complete its mandate by prosecuting those alleged to be most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia, such as Radovan Karadzic.
We continue to urge all States, particularly those of the former Yugoslavia, to fully co-operate with the Tribunal so that the remaining fugitive indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, can be apprehended and made to face international justice as soon as possible.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 October 2008, Official Report, column 607W, on Russia: missiles, what discussions he has had with his (a) European and (b) NATO counterparts on the test-firing by Russia of the RS-12M Topol missile on 27 August 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
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