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At the end of 2008 Spain put forward a "Site of Community Importance" (SCI) under the habitats directive which encompasses British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW). As the Commission only consulted each state bilaterally on the sites it put forward, the UK discussed only our own proposed sites (including two in Gibraltar) with the Commission. We therefore discovered
the existence of the Spanish site in BGTW only after the complete list of sites across the EU was published in February 2009.
The Government have however, within the time allowed, requested permission to intervene in support of the Government of Gibraltar legal case against the European Commission relating to a Site of Community Interest (SCI) proposed by Spain which overlaps with British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) (case T-176/09). We await a response from the court to our request.
The case does not concern a Spanish claim to BGTW. In fact the case involves an Article 230 application before the Court of First Instance by the Government of Gibraltar for annulment of Commission Decision 2009/95/EC, made under the habitats directive, to the extent that the listing of the Spanish SCI, Estrecho Oriental, includes British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) and an area of the high seas beyond BGTW.
Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Iran on the detention of Iranian Bahai leaders in Evin prison in Tehran. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are extremely concerned that the seven leading members of the Iranian Bahá'i community remain in detention, following their arrest in early 2008. Alongside our EU partners we have called repeatedly for the Iranian government to release the group and to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings.
In a statement to mark the one year anniversary of their arrest, my hon. Friend, the then Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, (Bill Rammell), issued a press statement on 14 May 2009 calling for their release, and on 25 May 2009, the EU reiterated this message in a declaration, urging the Iranian government to reconsider the accusations against the leaders and to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings.
I met with representatives of the UK National Spiritual Association of the Bahá'is on 2 July 2009, assuring them of our ongoing support, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reinforced this message of support in a private meeting with the group on 15 July 2009.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with his EU counterparts extending economic sanctions against Iran to include exported refined oil products. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The E3+3 invited Iran to re-enter talks about its nuclear programme in April 2009. Iran has yet to provide a constructive response on the issues of concern, but has now agreed to meet E3+3 officials on 1 October 2009.
Iran must take urgent positive steps to reassure the international community that its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, starting at the meeting on 1 October. Should Iran fail to do so, we will have no
option but to pursue further sanctions. We are considering the options available and will discuss them with EU partners when necessary.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the detention of 36 Camp Ashraf residents without charge or trial by Iraqi forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Iraqi Government have given assurances that no Camp Ashraf residents would be forcibly transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution, or where substantial grounds exist to believe they would be tortured.
All 36 arrested on 28 July 2009 were released on 7 October 2009 and have returned to Camp Ashraf. The Iraqi authorities have said they intend to resettle all 36 to other countries once suitable arrangements are in place. They had been detained under a combination of charges related to the violence at the camp on 28 July 2009 and immigration violations.
During their detention our embassy in Baghdad was in regular contact with the Iraqi authorities, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The UN confirmed that they have been held in acceptable local conditions. Food and water was available throughout, but the 36 men chose to follow a hunger strike in protest at their detention. Medical care was provided during their detention. The 36 had regular access to the ICRC.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to introduce legislation to ensure that companies operating out of illegal Israeli settlements cannot trade in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are clear that settlement construction is a violation of international law and so we will continue to press the Israeli Government immediately to freeze all settlement activity. But we have no plans to introduce legislation on the subject.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to ensure that Government departments and agencies do not make purchases from illegal Israeli settlements. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not have explicit policy precluding the purchase of goods emanating from the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, in practice the FCO in London and FCO posts seek to avoid purchase of goods from settlements. A recent example of this is when our Embassy in Tel Aviv stopped negotiations to lease premises in Africa-Israel's Kirya Tower when the company was unable to give
assurances that it and its subsidiaries were not involved in settlement construction or support for settler organisations.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with HM Treasury on the legality of collecting customs duties on exports from illegal Israeli settlements. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Our officials continue to have discussions with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), regarding the import of goods from Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), especially consignments originating from illegal Israeli settlements.
Products from Israeli settlements in the OPTs are not prohibited by the law in the UK. However, in accordance with the EU-Israel Association Agreement, HMRC continue to ensure that all consignments originating from illegal Israeli settlements do not benefit from preferential EU tariff rates.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to discourage UK nationals from buying properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK's position has been consistently robust-settlements are illegal, they are a clear violation of international law. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's travel advice clearly outlines the UK position and that potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property purchased in these settlements.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent requests he has made to other Ministers on facilitation of cooperation and training with the government of Libya; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The former Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Libya in March 2004 and May 2007 and agreed to co-operate with Libya in the fields of education and culture, archaeology, health, judicial co-operation and training, economic and financial development, defence, counter terrorism, police co-operation and training, tourism, travel visas, migration, development and the environment in Africa. In addition we also co-operate with Libya on Migration, Human Rights, Regional Security and undertake capacity building programmes such as police training and prison reform.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures of co-operation in training he has authorised in respect of Libya in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The former Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Libya in March 2004 and May 2007 and agreed to co-operate with Libya in the fields of education and culture, archaeology, health, judicial co-operation and training, economic and financial development, defence, counter-terrorism, police co-operation and training, tourism, travel visas, migration, development and the environment in Africa. In addition, we also co-operate with Libya on migration, human rights, regional security and undertake capacity building programmes such as police training and prison reform.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since we became aware of Ms Carty's case in 2002 we have maintained regular contact with her and her legal team. Consular staff keep in touch with her by letter and telephone and make prison visits. We last spoke to Ms Carty on 9 September 2009 and visited on 25 June 2009.
Consular staff maintain regular contact with Ms Carty's US legal representatives, whom we last met on 29 September 2009, and with the UK non-governmental organisation Reprieve, with whom we work closely on death penalty cases. We have also submitted two Amicus Curie briefs to the US courts in relation to the case, the first in May 2006 and the second on 4 May 2009.
The Government are strongly opposed to the death penalty. We express our opposition to its use on British nationals at whatever stage and level is judged appropriate from the moment when the imposition of a death sentence becomes a possibility. We have made a number of representations to the US Government on this case concerning our view on the death penalty, and will continue to do so.
Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the US administration on progress towards a two-state solution for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the Middle East Peace Process in a telephone conversation with Senator Mitchell on 7 September 2009. We, along with our international allies, will continue to pursue vigorously a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution, involving a viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with the Government of Niger on that country's constitution relating to presidential term limits. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK remains concerned about recent developments in Niger that threaten the democratisation process across the region. We are working with EU partners on how we can best contribute to restoring democracy and ensuring stability in Niger, and continue to lobby the regional body, the Economic Community of Western African States, which is leading the search for a peaceful solution, to agree a way forward, working with the African Union and the UN.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in North Korea, with particular reference to the repatriation of North Korean refugees by China; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: As set out in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Annual Human Rights Report, the Government continues to be deeply concerned by the reports of serious, widespread, and systematic human rights violations in North Korea. We raise these issues with the North Korean authorities at every appropriate opportunity. However, the North Korean government refuses to engage. Our ambassador in Pyongyang raised our concerns with the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Speaker of the North Korean parliament in February 2009 during the visit to North Korea by Lord Alton and Baroness Cox. He emphasised the importance of dialogue on human rights and urged North Korea to accept a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur.
The Government have also continued to look for opportunities to engage on the issue of North Korean refugees. We urge China to observe its obligations under the 1951 convention on the status of refugees and to allow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees access to the China-Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) border region. This subject was raised with the Chinese at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2009. We urged China not to return those people crossing the border from DPRK to China. At our request, the issue of North Korean refugees was included in the UN Human Rights Council resolution on DPRK which was agreed on at the 10(th) session of the Human Rights Council which was concluded on 27 March 2009.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Israeli government on the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Golan Heights. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK's position is clear on Israeli settlements in occupied territory: they are illegal, a clear violation of international law and an impediment to the peace process. We have made this frequently clear to Israeli government and will continue to do so.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli government on its decision to expand the settlement east of Jerusalem at Ma'ale Adumim. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK's position is clear: all settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories, including the west bank and east Jerusalem, are a clear violation of international law. This includes the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.
We will continue to press Israel to adhere to its 2003 Road Map commitments, including to freeze immediately all settlement activity and remove all outposts erected since 2001. We regard a freeze on the expansion of settlements as a key element in restarting peace talks.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli government on the threatened evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We remain concerned by the continued eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. The UK has raised its concerns with the Israeli Government and calls on Israel to suspend these eviction notices immediately.
Chris Bryant: While the abandonment of domestic animals by UK expatriates on their return is sadly not unheard of, it is difficult to see what action my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary could take to prevent it and consequently there are no plans to take steps to reduce the number of pets abandoned by UK expatriates returning to the UK.
Together with our EU partners, the UK has encouraged the Government of Pakistan to repeal or amend its blasphemy laws to reduce the widespread misuse of this legislation to discriminate against minority groups. In December 2008, the EU called upon the Government of Pakistan to promote tolerance, to effectively protect freedom of belief and freedom of expression and to reform discriminatory legislation such as the blasphemy laws. In August 2009, the EU also raised the attacks on Christians in Gojra with the Pakistan Foreign Minister.
We continue to encourage Pakistan to fulfil its commitments under the UN Human Rights Council. During the last Universal Periodic Review in May 2008, we secured a commitment from the Government of Pakistan that checks would be introduced to regulate investigations into allegations of blasphemy that affect minority groups.
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