The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): On Friday 25 June, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) completed the transfer of security responsibility for Kajaki in northern Helmand from UK to US forces and the redeployment of the company of UK soldiers based there to Sangin, where they will reinforce our existing presence.
The transfer of Kajaki is part of the reorganisation of ISAF forces in Helmand province and across southern Afghanistan which has been made possible by the significant uplift in Afghan and international troops, particularly US troops. As part of this process, security responsibility for Musa Qala in Helmand transferred to US forces on 27 March 2010, the UK-led Task Force Helmand came under command of the US Marine Corps' 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) on 1 June 2010 and, on the same date, command of the British battle group based in Sangin transferred from Task Force Helmand to the US-led Regimental Combat Team in the north of the province.
As has been the case with previous changes in Helmand, the UK has been consulted throughout ISAF's decision-making process and we welcome the transfer of Kajaki to US forces as enabling ISAF to further optimise the use of its forces in the province.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): The House will be aware that the Ministry of Defence has been judicially reviewed in the High Court. The claimant in that case, Ms Maya Evans, sought to end the practice of transferring detainees to the appropriate Afghan authorities. The Court's judgment was handed down on Friday 25 June, and I am pleased to say that it found UK practices are lawful.
Our operations in Afghanistan are conducted to protect the national security of the United Kingdom and its people, at home and abroad. It is vital that we address transnational terrorism at its core if we are to safeguard the British people from its effects. In doing so, the ability of our forces to detain those who represent a threat to them, or to the Afghan population, is a vital tool if we are to learn about the insurgency, protect against the improvised explosive device threat, and finally ensure that those responsible are held properly to account. In seeking justice from those who attack, maim and kill
our troops, coalition forces and Afghan civilians it is absolutely right that we do so through the Afghan judicial system.
There is no place for the abuse of detainees. We must always act in a manner that is consistent with our values. We took this case very seriously. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provided a vast range of material to assist the Court in what it described as a massive, costly and time-consuming disclosure exercise. I welcome the Court's recognition of the efforts the MOD went to to provide the Court with a full and clear understanding of all the issues raised.
In its judgment, the Court acknowledged the body of material, produced by the international institutions, among others, which covered allegations of mistreatment within the general Afghan system. But it also recognised the specific safeguards and monitoring arrangements in place to provide reassurance about the treatment of transferees, safeguards which will be further reinforced in line with the Court's recommendations. This led to the Court's conclusion that the steps we have taken with the Afghan authorities are sufficient to provide reassurance about their treatment and that UK forces can therefore lawfully continue to transfer UK-captured insurgents to sovereign Afghan authorities.
The British Government, working with international partners under International Security Assistance Force, will also continue to support all efforts to improve further the Afghan judicial system and the rule of law.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): In 2009, there were 4,979 recorded outstanding parking and other minor traffic violation fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom. These totalled £534,060. In March this year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned, giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly. As a result of subsequent payments totalling £7,760 there remains a total of £526,300 unpaid fines for 2009. The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £1,000 or more.
|Diplomatic Mission/InternationalOrganisation||Number of Outstanding Fines (excluding congestion charge)||Amount in £|
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): In 2009, seventeen serious and drink driving offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. "Serious Offences" are defined as offences that would, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months or more imprisonment. Some 25,000 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom.
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