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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I hope she can answer my question on the IGADD condition with respect to self-determination for the people of the south.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the whole point of the IGADD conditions is that if the people in the south were to be given the chance to vote democratically and voted to separate there is little that could be done to prevent them so doing. However, at present there is no hope whatever of their being given the democratic option. Therefore, it is very difficult to see whether that condition is valid.

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The noble Baroness and my noble friends Lady Cox and Lady Park of Monmouth asked about the dialogue with the opposition groups, which we value greatly. We have contact both in London and through our missions in Khartoum, Cairo and Nairobi. Those groups include the political parties which the Sudanese regime dissolved in 1989. We are supporting the re-establishment of a fully democratic system in Sudan, and we shall be interested to hear the detailed outcome of the conference on peace and democracy in Sudan which Christian Solidarity International is hosting and at which Sudanese opposition figures will be present.

The attitude of the Government of Sudan to all that outsiders are trying to do to help in a humanitarian way is not acceptable. They do not seem to value human life at all. They regularly prohibit aid deliveries to sensitive locations. They use agreed aid delivery routes for military purposes, opening aid workers to attack and preventing aid workers from using the routes. There are enormous problems in obtaining visas and permits to work. At the moment, even if the NGOs are able to start work they are often vulnerable to the unlawful requisitioning of their equipment and supplies. So in the midst of all they are seeking to do they are stopped completely in their tracks.

Once again, as the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said, the complaints are not restricted to the government. It is quite clear that some of the SPLA factions in the south are equally guilty. Therefore, we not only raise our concerns with the government but also with the SPLA.

I was asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, about the offensive recently launched by the SPLA south of Juba. It is too early to assess the effect on the military situation, but it has undoubtedly had a highly disruptive effect.

Time is marching on, but I want to assure your Lordships that we will continue to raise with the Government of Sudan our concern at their harbouring of extremist organisations. We are deeply concerned at the allegations made by Sudan's neighbours that she is undermining regional stability by supporting extremist organisations. The allegations of official Sudanese complicity in the assassination attempt against President Mubarak of Egypt in Addis Ababa in June are taken very seriously, and we have been in close touch throughout with the Ethiopian and Egyptian authorities about that.

We believe that, if this matter is raised in the Security Council, the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, concerning the appointment of a special rapporteur to investigate the allegations of Sudanese support for terrorism should be considered and the report published. At present, work is going on to try to establish the facts, and that might be achieved more easily outside the Security Council than within it.

The human rights situation is atrocious, as we have heard from speaker after speaker tonight. We recognised at the February session of the Commission on Human Rights the importance of the action and of renewing Dr. Biro's mandate for another year. The resolution, which we co-sponsored, also recommended that Dr. Biro

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should begin consultations with the UN Secretary-General about the possibility of positioning human rights monitors in Sudan. We have urged the Sudanese Government to provide full access to such monitors, including the special rapporteur himself, but, as we all know, so far there has been no progress whatever.

It is quite clear from the many contributions in this debate and from all that we hear from those who are able to visit parts of Sudan that the situation is continuing to deteriorate. It is totally unacceptable in the 1990s that systematic slavery should still exist.

It is unacceptable that the long-suffering civilians in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains should continue to be the victims of the appalling atrocities

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committed by all sides in the conflict. It is unacceptable that the Khartoum regime is unwilling to live up to its international obligations and continues to refuse access to the special rapporteur.It is important and very valuable that your Lordships, through the noble Baroness's debate tonight, should have continued to shine a searching spotlight on Sudan so that we can publicise the tragic situation there. Britain is actively pressing the regime to mend its ways through our bilateral contacts, in concert with our European Union partners and through the United Nations. I can assure your Lordships that I will not let up on these efforts; and I hope that your Lordships will not either.

        House adjourned at a quarter before midnight.

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