Human Rights

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has (a) made and (b) received on the findings on abortion and human rights in the report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, published on 1 February 2013. [179250]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not made or received such representations. We share the concerns of the Special Rapporteur about reports of:

"abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings; involuntary sterilisation; denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilisations; female genital mutilation; violations of medical secrecy and confidentiality in health-care settings, such as denunciations of women by medical personnel when evidence of illegal abortion is found; and the practice of attempting to obtain confessions as a condition of potentially life-saving medical treatment after abortion." (Section IVB, paragraph 46)


Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people are employed within centralised IT departments or teams in his Department; and if he will make a statement. [179168]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently has 95 staff who are responsible for managing the Department's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems in the UK. This figure relates only to full-time FCO staff and does not include other staff such as outsourced contractors. To provide this information would incur a disproportionate cost.

International Organisations

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which international organisations the UK is a member of. [179551]

Mr Lidington: The UK is a member of a very large number of international organisations (IO). If all possible dimensions of UK membership are considered, this could potentially run into several hundred or even thousands. An indicative list includes:

United Nations (UN);

UN's specialised agencies (selected): Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (1CAO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); World Bank; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU); World Meteorological Organisation (WMO); World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO); World Health Organisation (WHO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Maritime Organisation (IMO); International Monetary Fund (IMF);

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO);

European Union (EU);

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (an IO in UK domestic terms but not in international law);

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);

Council of Europe;

World Trade Organisation (WTO);

The Commonwealth (although there is a debate about its international legal status);


International Organisation for Migration (IOM);

International Organisation for Standardisation (IOS);

Australia Group;

International Energy Agency (IEA);

International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO);

International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMSO).

As explained above, this is not a comprehensive list but an indicative selection designed to demonstrate the breadth of UK membership of IOs.


Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Iranian counterpart on providing equality for all Iranian citizens without discrimination based on race, gender or religion. [179618]

Hugh Robertson: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised Iran's poor human rights record with Foreign Minister Zarif in the margins of the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2013.

Sri Lanka

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the UK has international support before formally requesting that the UN Human Rights Council

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sets up an international inquiry into allegations of war crimes during Sri Lanka's civil war; what assessment he has made of whether it will be necessary for the UK to raise the issue at UN level; and if he will make a statement. [179209]

Mr Swire: The Prime Minister was clear with the Sri Lankan President at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November that we expect real progress on human rights, reconciliation, accountability, and political settlement. The Human Rights Council will assess progress in March.

In particular, the Prime Minister pressed for credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes and made clear that if these investigations have not begun properly by March, then we will use our position on the UN Human Rights Council to work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner and call for an international inquiry. The UK has been voted back on to the Human Rights Council and will play an active role in building international support ahead of the March Human Rights Council session. We will continue to discuss Sri Lanka with a range of other EU, Commonwealth and international partners over the coming months.

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Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the security situation in Thailand following recent protests in that country. [179340]

Mr Swire: There have been protests in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, particularly around government buildings, since the beginning of November. I was sad to learn of the loss of life during those demonstrations over the weekend of 30 November to 1 December. As I made clear in my public statement of 25 November, the UK urges all parties to resolve their differences peacefully, avoiding violence, and in line with democracy and the rule of law. All sides have stated they are not seeking confrontation and want to avoid further violence.

At present, there is no direct threat to UK businesses, tourists or commercial interests in Thailand, but we continue to monitor the situation closely.

Our ambassador to Thailand is in regular contact with both Thai government and opposition leaders, and our officials in London are also in contact with the Thai embassy here.

We have added factual updates to our travel advice throughout this period of protests and will continue to keep our advice under review.