Human Rights Annual Report 2008 - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The structure of the FCO report

1.  We conclude that the FCO's inclusion in its report of extensive sections on what steps it is taking to promote equality and democracy, including women's and children's rights, is welcome. We recommend that next year's report includes what the FCO is doing both to extend the right of freedom of association, and to achieve progress amongst Commonwealth countries in implementing the human rights provisions of the Harare Declaration. (Paragraph 10)

US policy on extraordinary rendition

2.  We conclude that the shift in attitude of the new US Administration on the definition of torture and in its approach to extraordinary rendition is to be welcomed. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government supplies us with a full assessment of whether, in its opinion, the present US policy in relation to secret and transitory detention and permitted interrogation techniques fully conforms to international human rights standards as interpreted by the UK. (Paragraph 20)


3.  We conclude that it is unacceptable that the Government has not taken steps to obtain the full details of the two individuals who were rendered through Diego Garcia. We recommend that the Government presses the new US Administration to provide these details, and that it should then either publish them, or explain the reasons why it considers it would not be in the public interest to publish them. (Paragraph 28)

4.  We conclude that the use of Diego Garcia for US rendition flights without the knowledge or consent of the British Government raises disquieting questions about the effectiveness of the Government's exercise of its responsibilities in relation to this territory. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government indicates whether it considers that UK law has effect in British Indian Ocean Territory, and whether it considers that either UK law or the agreements between the US and UK over the use of BIOT were broken by the admitted US rendition flights in 2002. (Paragraph 30)

5.  We conclude that, in the light of the controversy over the use of British Indian Ocean Territory for purposes of rendition by the US, it is important that full records of flights through the territory are kept, and retained for an indefinite period. We conclude that it is to be welcomed that the British representative on Diego Garcia now keeps flight records. We recommend that the Government discloses how, why and by whom the records relating to flights through Diego Garcia since the start of 2002 were destroyed. We further recommend that the Government provides, in its response to this Report, full details of its record-keeping and record-disposal policy in relation to flights through British territory, particularly BIOT, and state for how long it now retains such records. We recommend that, in its response, the Government addresses the question of whether it considers that current aviation law and aircraft identification procedures are sufficient to identify flights which may be carrying out rendition both through Diego Garcia or elsewhere through UK airspace. (Paragraph 33)

6.  We conclude that it is a matter of concern that many allegations continue to be made that the two acknowledged instances of rendition through British Indian Ocean Territory in 2002 do not represent the limit of the territory's use for this purpose. We further conclude that it is extremely difficult for the British Government to assess the veracity of these allegations without active and candid co-operation from the US Administration. We recommend that the Government requests the Obama Administration to carry out a further, comprehensive check on its records relating to the use of BIOT with a view to testing the truth of the specific allegations (including those set out in paragraph 34 above) relating to rendition through the territory. We conclude that it is unsatisfactory that the Government is not able to give us a categorical assurance that re-victualling of ships anchored outside BIOT's territorial waters by any vessel from BIOT, for purpose of assisting rendition, has not occurred. We further conclude that it is unsatisfactory that the US has only undertaken to inform the UK of the movement of ships in Diego Garcia's territorial waters in normal circumstances but not in all cases. We recommend that the Government requests the US Administration to supply details of any movement of ships in Diego Garcia's waters since January 2002 that were not notified at the time to the UK authorities, and seek assurances that at no point were these or other vessels used for re-victualling of vessels outside Diego Garcia's territorial waters which were being used for purposes of rendition. (Paragraph 37)

7.  We reiterate our previous conclusion that it is deplorable that previous US assurances about rendition flights through Diego Garcia have turned out to be false. We further conclude that the basis of trust in subsequent US assurances about the use of BIOT has been undermined. We recommend that the Government outline what practical action it is taking to ensure that it has full sources of information about US rendition activity on BIOT. (Paragraph 41)

8.  We reiterate our earlier conclusion that the Government has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that flights that enter UK airspace or land at UK airports are not part of the rendition circuit. We acknowledge the practical difficulties in the way of monitoring all empty flights transiting UK territory or airspace. We recommend that the Government, in its response to this Report, sets out options for more effectively establishing whether flights, including those by civilian aircraft, are on their way to or from a rendition operation. (Paragraph 43)

9.  We recommend that the Government complete its analysis of practicalities of signing the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances as soon as possible. We further recommend that, having been supportive of the Convention at the drafting stage, the Government should declare its intention, in principle, to sign. (Paragraph 46)

Allegations of UK complicity in torture

10.  We conclude that the practices of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency continue to give cause for great concern, in the light of the allegations we have received that the Agency subjects detainees to mistreatment and torture. We further conclude that while the UK must, by necessity, maintain its relationship with Pakistani intelligence, we are very concerned by allegations that the nature of the relationship UK officials have with the ISI may have led them to be complicit in torture. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government supplies us with details of the investigations it has carried out into the specific allegations of UK complicity in torture in Pakistan brought to public attention by Reprieve and Human Rights Watch, and the grounds it has for supposing those allegations to be baseless. We further recommend that the Government make an explicit statement that in future co-operation with the Pakistani authorities, UK officials should in no circumstances be uncritical of, or complicit in, abuses of human rights. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government confirms that it is its policy, in respect of every case where allegations of torture in Pakistan are drawn to its attention, for such allegations to be passed to the Pakistani authorities and every available step taken to ensure that they are investigated and responded to fully. (Paragraph 54)

11.  We conclude that the Government's intention to establish the same standards for dual and mono British nationals in relation to consular access is to be welcomed. We recommend that this change should be brought into effect as soon as possible, and that in its response to this Report the Government sets out a timetable for this to be achieved. We further recommend that all British nationals should be offered consular advice as soon as the Government is aware of their detention, and certainly before they are interrogated by any foreign intelligence service. (Paragraph 57)

12.  We conclude that, notwithstanding the recent changes to House of Commons standing orders, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) remains a creature of the Government, not a committee of Parliament, and that consequently there continues to be a deficit in the parliamentary scrutiny of intelligence and security matters. We reiterate our previous recommendation that the ISC should be reconstituted as a select committee of the House of Commons. (Paragraph 63)

13.  We conclude that if the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is to be an effective safeguard it should be able to investigate allegations made by third parties. We recommend that the Government brings forward proposals to make this change. (Paragraph 64)

14.  We conclude that, while we understand the Government's caution about publishing historical guidance to intelligence officers whilst current court cases are in progress, we are not convinced that the release of material that would be available to a court on request is likely to prejudice a case. We therefore recommend that such historical guidance should be placed in the public domain as soon as possible. (Paragraph 68)

15.  We conclude that it is essential that there is a robust system of accountability to ensure that the Foreign Secretary uses section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 in a responsible fashion. We recommend that, in is response to this Report, the Government informs us whether the Intelligence Services Commissioner has ever expressed any concern regarding the use of powers given to the Foreign Secretary under section 7 of the Act. (Paragraph 71)

16.  We conclude that it is essential that the UK maintains effective intelligence relationships with other countries, and we note that these countries may include ones, such as Pakistan, where there are most serious concerns about human rights abuses of detainees. We further conclude that the Government is correct to base decisions about intelligence co-operation on an assessment of the risk of mistreatment of detainees, and we are heartened to learn that there have been cases in which on this basis co-operation had not taken place. We further conclude that it is essential that the Government emphasise to its foreign counterparts that torture is unacceptable, and that it should work pro-actively to persuade other states to renounce the use of torture against all detainees, whatever their nationality. (Paragraph 74)

17.  We conclude that the use by the UK Government of intelligence information which may serve to avert a potentially catastrophic terrorist attack, but which is supplied by foreign states and which may have been obtained through torture, raises profoundly difficult moral questions. We further conclude that the Government has a duty to use information that comes into its possession, from whatever source and however obtained, if it believes this will avert the loss of life. At the same time, we strongly recommend that the Government should continue to exert as much persuasion and pressure as possible to try to ensure world-wide that torture is not employed as a method of interrogation. (Paragraph 79)

18.  We conclude that it is imperative that the UK fulfils its legal obligations in respect of the prevention of torture, including any duty to act positively to prevent it, investigate allegations that it has taken place, and expose it. We further conclude that there is a risk that use of evidence which may have been obtained under torture on a regular basis, especially where it is not clear that protestations about mistreatment have elicited any change in behaviour by foreign intelligence services, could be construed as complicity in such behaviour. (Paragraph 83)

19.  We conclude that it is essential to maintain secrecy in relation to intelligence work. We further conclude that allegations presented to us of UK complicity in torture are a matter of concern. However, both owing to the operation of the House's sub judice rule and because we are not in a position to subject these allegations to the necessary forensic scrutiny (involving examination and cross-examination) available to a court of law, we are not in a position to pronounce on the truth or otherwise of these allegations. We further conclude that any decision by the Government on whether to institute an independent judicial inquiry should await the conclusion of the current court cases. (Paragraph 85)

Transfers of detainees

20.  We conclude that it is a matter of concern that the Government has not provided details of the fate of individuals detained by US forces in Iraq as a result of operations by UK forces, or those captured by UK forces and detained by US forces. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government informs us of the number of such detainees, relevant details of the circumstances of their capture and the degree of involvement of UK forces, and any assurances it has received from the US authorities about their treatment and whereabouts, on an individual basis. We further recommend that the Government, in its response, provides us with a full statement of its record-keeping practice in respect of persons captured by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether or not UK forces make the eventual detention. (Paragraph 90)

21.  We conclude that the Government should have waited for the European Court of Human Rights to rule on whether the transfer of Faisal Attiyah Nassar Al-Saadoon and Khalaf Hussain Mufdhi to the Iraqi authorities in December 2008 was consistent with its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights before proceeding with the transfer. We further conclude that explicit assurances that the death penalty would not be used in the event of a conviction in these cases should have been obtained in writing from the Iraqi authorities at the highest level. We recommend that in future the Government obtains such explicit assurances in writing from any national authority to which it transfers a detainee. (Paragraph 95)

22.  We conclude that the onward transfer to Afghanistan of two Pakistani men transferred from UK to US custody in Iraq in 2004 is of great concern. We do not regard the stated reason for this transfer, that US forces did not have sufficient linguists available in Iraq, as being convincing. We further conclude that it is not acceptable that the Government is unable to identify these detainees, or to provide assurances about their subsequent treatment. We recommend that the Government, in its response to this Report, identifies these men, and inform us of what steps it has taken to discover whether they have been treated in an acceptable way since being transferred to US forces. We conclude that the allegation by Reprieve that these two cases were not, as the Government asserts, isolated ones, gives cause for concern. We recommend that the Government investigates in detail any specific allegations put before it by Reprieve and reports to us the outcome of those investigations. (Paragraph 101)

23.  We conclude that the potential treatment of detainees transferred by UK forces to the Afghan authorities gives cause for concern, given that there is credible evidence that torture and other abuses occur within the Afghan criminal justice system. We recommend that the Government institutes a more rigorous system for checking on the welfare of tranferees in Afghanistan, on an individual basis, and that in its response to this Report, it informs us of the steps proposes to take to achieve this end. (Paragraph 105)

24.  We conclude that although there may be scope for argument about the extent of the legal obligation on the UK to monitor the welfare of individual detainees after it has transferred them to another country, there is no doubt in our view that the UK is under a moral obligation to do so. Such monitoring is desirable not only to enable the Government to intervene if it receives information that an individual is being ill-treated, but also because any evidence thus revealed of systematic ill-treatment will call into question whether future transfers to that country should take place. We recommend that the Government takes the necessary action to ensure that it has mechanisms in place to allow it effectively to monitor the welfare of individuals transferred, and in its response to this Report sets out what specific steps it is taking. (Paragraph 113)

Oversight of private military security companies and contractors

25.  We reiterate our previous conclusion that in cases like that of the allegations of abuse concerning the British Embassy in Baghdad, it is not appropriate for investigation of complaints against contractors' staff to be entrusted solely to the contractors. We conclude that the proper treatment of staff working for FCO-employed contractors overseas should be considered to be an FCO responsibility. Therefore we conclude that the inclusion of FCO officials in the team that investigated the latest allegations of abuse by KBR staff at the Baghdad Embassy is to be welcomed. We recommend that in order for the FCO reliably to monitor the compliance of its contractors with its own employment practices and standards, all similar allegations of serious misconduct by or against contracted staff should be investigated by a team that includes FCO representation. We further recommend that provision for this to happen should be explicitly made in future contracts. We conclude that it remains disappointing that the FCO is unwilling to reopen the investigation into the allegations in 2007 that female staff at the British Embassy in Baghdad had been abused by managers working for KBR, given the doubts that remain about the fairness and independence of the investigation. We recommend that the Government reconsider its position on this matter. (Paragraph 125)

26.  We conclude that it is regrettable and disappointing that after such a long delay the Government has proposed a system of regulation for private military and security companies (PMSCs) based on a voluntary code of self-regulation. We remain unconvinced that anything other than a legislative solution can provide suitably strict regulation of PMSCs operating from the UK or employed overseas by the Government. We do not believe that a potential loss of business constitutes a sufficient sanction to control PMSCs' behaviour. We recommend that that when the Government issues its response to the recent consultation exercise, it commits itself to pursuing a legislative solution to the regulation of PMSCs at an EU or international level. (Paragraph 136)

27.  We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government gives us full particulars of the individual members of staff who enjoy diplomatic immunity, and the grounds on which this has been justified, and that it supplies us with a full statement of its policy on the provision of diplomatic immunity to staff who are not directly employed by the Government.(Paragraph 138)

UN Human Rights Council

28.  We conclude that the UN Human Rights Council's May 2009 resolution rejecting calls for investigation of human rights violations in Sri Lanka is deeply regrettable, and has damaged the credibility of the Council. We recommend that the Government continues to promote the view that significant transgressions of human rights committed by parties to internal political conflicts should not be regarded as being solely the "domestic business" of the state concerned. We conclude that the international community has both a right and a responsibility to express concern about, and where appropriate to launch investigations into, situations where major abuses have been alleged. (Paragraph 152)

29.  We conclude that other aspects of the work of the Human Rights Council are to be applauded, in particular the developing system of Universal Periodic Reviews, and the decision to continue the international investigation of human rights abuses in Sudan. We further conclude that the increase in 2008 in the number of Council resolutions which the Government was able to support is to be welcomed, and that it is to be hoped that the participation of the United States will lead to a strengthening of the positive work of the Council. (Paragraph 153)

The Durban Review Conference

30.  We conclude that the UK's handling of the issue of participation in the "Durban Review Conference" held in Geneva in April 2009 was well-judged. The UK delegation left the conference hall in protest at President Ahmadinejad's offensive and anti-Semitic remarks, but did not allow his calculated provocation to derail the wider work of the conference, in which the UK played a full part. We recommend that the Government continues to support the positive work of the Durban review process in combating racism worldwide, while at the same time maintaining the right of freedom of expression in relation to ideologies and beliefs, and defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. (Paragraph 160)

International Criminal Law

31.  We conclude that there is mounting hostility to the International Criminal Court in Africa and elsewhere, manifested most dramatically in Sudan's refusal to co-operate with the Court. This reflects a deepening division between Western countries and some other countries, particularly those from the developing world, over issues of state sovereignty in relation to human rights—exemplified also in the UN Human Rights Council's recent rejection of international "interference" in the investigation of alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. We further conclude that such attitudes, if they continue to spread, may have the effect of undermining the promotion of universal human rights worldwide. We recommend that the Government works to strengthen international support for the ICC, and for the principle of bringing to justice those who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. We further recommend that it encourages the new Administration in the United States to accede to the Rome Statute of the ICC, which would mean that a majority of the Permanent Members of the Security Council would have acceded, marking a significant step towards the long-term aim of achieving universality of the Rome Statute. (Paragraph 168)

Countries of concern


32.  We conclude that the scale of human rights abuses in Burma, and the extent of suffering caused to the Burmese people by their government's economic and political mismanagement, is intolerable. The Burmese government's indifference to the welfare of its own people was demonstrated by its handling of Cyclone Nargis in 2008. We recommend that the British Government continues to exercise the strictest vigilance in ensuring that aid supplied to Burma is not misused by the authorities. We further recommend that the UK encourages Burma's regional neighbours, in particular China, India and Thailand, to bring pressure on the regime to improve its human rights record. (Paragraph 176)


33.  We conclude that there remains little evidence that the British Government's policy of constructive dialogue with China has led to any significant improvements in the human rights situation. We recommend that the Government sets benchmarks and specific targets for making progress in this dialogue; these should take account of but not be restricted to the time-specific commitments given by China itself during its Universal Periodic Review process. We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government informs us of what action it is proposing to take in this regard. (Paragraph 183)

34.  We reiterate the conclusions of our 2008 Report on Global Security: Japan and Korea that China is in breach of its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention as regards its treatment of North Korean migrants. We remain particularly exercised by China's continuing failure to allow the UN High Commission on Refugees access to its border region with North Korea, and by its practice of forcible repatriation of North Koreans who have not had access to a determination-of-status process. We recommend that the Government should urge the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to give a high priority to the issue of the treatment of North Korean migrants in China. We further recommend that the Government works internationally and more actively to encourage China to find ways of fulfilling its international obligations on this issue as part of the process of becoming a responsible global power. (Paragraph 184)

35.  We conclude that the absence of any momentum towards resolving the dispute over Tibet is a matter of grave concern. We recommend that the Government continues to press its Chinese counterparts to lift restrictions on access to Tibet, to allow an independent assessment of the human rights situation there to be carried out by representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (Paragraph 190)

36.  We conclude that the developing situation in Xinjiang, with significant violence arising from long-standing ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese, gives cause for concern. We recommend that the Government, acting in conjunction with its EU partners, should monitor the situation and urge restraint upon the Chinese government. We further conclude that what appears to be a change in Chinese policy towards foreign media, allowing journalists free access to Xinjiang, is—if confirmed as events develop—to be welcomed. (Paragraph 193)


37.  We conclude that, despite some recent improvements, human rights abuses in Colombia remain systemic and widespread, with considerable evidence of complicity by the Colombia authorities, police and armed forces. We note that, in particular, it is an extremely dangerous place to be a trade unionist. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government supplies us with a detailed breakdown of its current and planned future aid to Colombia, with full costings, and information as to how this spending will be used to exert leverage on the Colombian government to improve its human rights record. We further recommend that the Government at the same time supplies us with any internal assessment that has been carried out of the effectiveness of its human rights training programme for the Colombian army; and that it informs us whether that programme was scheduled to finish when it did, or whether it was abandoned because of concerns about the scale of the army's continuing participation in abuses. (Paragraph 204)


38.  We conclude that the events of June and July 2009 in Iran have revealed the extent of the desire amongst millions of Iranians for a fairer electoral process, as well as for greater personal freedoms and a normalisation of relations between Iran and the wider world, and that those events have also demonstrated the capacity of the present Iranian regime to respond with ruthless force in suppressing expressions of dissent. We further conclude that Iran's overall human rights record remains appalling. We recommend that the Government continues to act with firmness, in conjunction with its European partners and the wider international community, in pressing for the Iranian regime to respect the human rights obligations it has entered into, and in actively encouraging Iran to adopt a more civilised approach to the rights of its own citizens. (Paragraph 210)

39.  We conclude that the detention of British Embassy staff by the Iranian authorities is deplorable, and we recommend that the FCO should keep us informed as this situation develops. We propose to return to the issues of the safety of Embassy staff and the extent to which they are protected by diplomatic immunity as part of our forthcoming inquiry into the FCO's Annual Report for 2008-09. (Paragraph 211)


40.  We conclude that with the departure of most British troops from southern Iraq, and the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi towns and cities, the responsibility for creating security, which is an essential precondition of human rights, has passed decisively to the Iraqi government. We further conclude that many grave human rights concerns remain in a country which is, as the FCO puts it, making a "difficult transition". The plight of Iraqi refugees, both within Iraq and beyond its borders, and the discrimination suffered by women, contrary to the Iraqi constitution, are of particular concern. We recommend that the British Government continues to discharge its responsibility to the Iraqi people by offering their government and Parliament full and effective assistance, both practical and financial, in creating the institutions and attitudes necessary to underpin the effective upholding of human rights. (Paragraph 217)

North Korea

41.  We reiterate the conclusions of our 2008 Report on Global Security: Japan and Korea as regards North Korean human rights and British Government policy on the issue, including our conclusions that the North Korean regime is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and that the Universal Periodic Review which North Korea is to undergo at the UN Human Rights Council in December 2009 offers a major opportunity to advance the international effort to secure improvements in human rights in the country. We recommend that in its response to this Report the FCO sets out what steps it is taking to achieve this advance. We further recommend that the Government provides an assessment of any ways in which its work on North Korean human rights issues is being affected by the deterioration of North Korea's relations with the West and with the other participants in the Six-Party Talks. (Paragraph 224)


42.  We conclude that human rights abuses in Pakistan continue to be widespread. In particular, women and girls continue to be subjected to violence and discrimination. (Paragraph 233)

43.  We conclude that the work of the Forced Marriages and Child Abduction Unit at the British High Commission in Islamabad is to be commended. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the FCO should supply us with an update on the work of the Unit, and on the implementation of the UK/Pakistan Judicial Protocol on Child Abduction, and detail its plans for supporting and promoting the work of the Unit in future. (Paragraph 234)


44.  We conclude that President Medvedev's commitment to promoting the rule of law in Russia is undermined by continuing human rights violations. The extent of the threat to press freedom arising from intimidation and even murder of journalists is particularly worrying, as is the rise in xenophobia and racism. We further conclude that there is substantial evidence of major human rights abuses in the republics of the Russian Federation in the North Caucasus. We recommend that the British Government continues to work with its international partners to maintain a constructive relationship with Russia, whilst at the same time taking effective steps to encourage that country to develop a human rights culture which reflects more closely the international norms and commitments to which Russia has voluntarily signed up. (Paragraph 241)

Saudi Arabia

45.  We conclude that human rights continue to be violated on a massive scale in Saudi Arabia. We consider that the FCO's latest report pulls its punches on this matter. Although it lists Saudi Arabia as a "country of concern", it lays emphasis on the degree of cultural acceptance of severe punishments and of discrimination against women. Whilst we agree with the Government that "sustainable reform cannot be imposed on a country", we conclude that the current policy of "assisting with gradual reform" has borne very little fruit. The fact that Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally of the UK should not lead to an official policy of turning a blind eye to its human rights failings. We repeat our recommendation in last year's Report that the UK's ongoing dialogue with Saudi Arabia should have measurable and time-limited objectives in relation to human rights, and specifically in relation to women's rights, and that the Government informs us of these objectives in its response to this Report. (Paragraph 247)


46.  We conclude that the FCO is to be commended for including Somalia as a "country of concern" in its latest report, following our previous recommendation. We further conclude that serious human rights abuses, including violence against women, are continuing across much of Somalia, particularly in Mogadishu and in central and southern Somalia. We conclude that the Government's support for a UN commission of inquiry into abuses in Somalia is to be welcomed, though we do not accept its view that the time is not yet right for such a commission to be established. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the FCO states what conditions must be satisfied before the time is deemed to be right for a commission to be set up. We further recommend that, in that response, the FCO indicates what steps it is taking to ensure that UK aid is not supplied to Somali police forces where there is reason to suppose that those forces have been complicit in human rights abuses. (Paragraph 256)

Sri Lanka

47.  We conclude that the FCO's decision to include Sri Lanka as a "country of concern" in next year's human rights report is amply justified by recent events in that country, and is to be welcomed. We recommend that, notwithstanding the regrettable vote in the UN Human Rights Council on 27 May, the Government should press for the setting up of an international war crimes inquiry, to investigate allegations of atrocities carried out by both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war. We further recommend that the Government uses such leverage as it has at its disposal to encourage the Sri Lankan government to tackle what the FCO refers to as "the prevalent culture of impunity". (Paragraph 274)


48.  We conclude that continuing widespread abuses of human rights in Sudan are a matter of great concern. We further conclude that the recent decision of the UN Human Rights Council, by a narrow majority, to continue the investigation of human rights abuses in Sudan is to be welcomed. We recommend that the British Government continues to be pro-active in offering support for the Darfur peace process and for UN peacekeeping forces. We further recommend that the Government works closely with its international partners in an effort to ensure that the writ of the International Criminal Court operates in Sudan. (Paragraph 283)


49.  We conclude that the human rights and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe continues to be appalling, although the participation of the opposition in a transitional coalition government, and the recent measure of economic stabilisation, offer glimmers of hope. We further conclude that it is difficult to see how fundamental reforms in governance, the rule of law, and ending human rights abuses can be achieved as long as Robert Mugabe and his supporters are still in power and control the security apparatus. We recommend that the Government should provide immediate aid to Zimbabwe's suffering people, subject to safeguards against its falling into the hands of Mr Mugabe and his supporters, of encouraging progress towards the early holding of fair and free elections, and of making preparations for a long-term reconstruction package to be delivered when a genuinely democratic and representative government is finally in place. We further recommend that the FCO should continue to raise the gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council. (Paragraph 294)

Overseas Territories

50.  We conclude that the deliberate omission of reference to sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination in the Cayman Islands draft constitution is deplorable. The possibility cannot be ruled out that the drafting of the constitution in this regard may result in Cayman Islands courts affording to citizens of those islands less than the full protection which they are entitled to under the European Convention on Human Rights. (Paragraph 302)

51.  We recommend that in all future discussions with Overseas Territories about revisions to their constitutions, the FCO insists that no specific religion or faith community be singled out for privileged mention, and that anti-discrimination provisions make explicit mention of sexual orientation. (Paragraph 303)

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