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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Government's approach to the Intergovernmental Conference was set out in the White Paper A Partnership of Nations in March. This covers the changes which the Government think are needed, at this stage, for an enlarged and enlarging Union.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Armoured water cannon are controlled under heading ML6 and PL5001 of the Military List of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994. As such, we would consider any application to export them in accordance with the Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers agreed by the then Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and the other international guidelines to which the Government are committed. All export licence applications to all destinations, including Indonesia, are considered in the light of internationally agreed guidelines. Under these criteria, we take into account, inter alia, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the recipient country. We do not issue licences for the export of any equipment which is likely to be used for internal repression.
I shall write to the noble Lord shortly in answer to his question on other countries to which armoured water cannon have been sold, taking into account the Answer by the noble Lord, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence. (col. WA 109-111, 23rd July).
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: A Commonwealth Ministerial Mission visited The Gambia from 12th-13th June to review progress on the transition to democracy. At its 24th-25th June meeting, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group recognised that key elements of the transition process were not in place, urged the lifting of the ban on political activity and encouraged donors to provide resources for the election and to foster good governance.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The decision to proceed with the referendum on 7th August rests with the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission. The draft constitution has been the subject of much debate in The Gambia. We and our Commonwealth partners nevertheless share the noble Lord's concern that the ban on political activity will not now be lifted before the referendum.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We are concerned at the failure of the Gambian authorities to lift the ban on political activities following the completion of voter registration on 22nd June. But it is for the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission to decide whether it is possible to adhere to the election timetable now that the ban will not be lifted until after the 7th August referendum.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Where legislation is contemplated, Government departments should ensure that it is compatible with the international human rights obligations of the United Kingdom, and the European Convention on Human Rights in particular. Every proposal for legislation should be accompanied by a statement that this has been done. Legal advice should be obtained in the first instance from departmental lawyers, who consult as necessary the Foreign and Commonwealth Office legal advisers.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We consider that the existing means through which allegations of torture or other inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment may be pursued are satisfactory. These include action in domestic courts and, in appropriate cases, recourse to the European Commission on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights, under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The 1995-96 edition of the International Planned Parenthood Federation's Annual Report is not yet ready for publication. Copies of IPPF's Vision 2000 Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No countries have ceased funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation over the last seven years. During this period of time, the European Union, Belgium and Switzerland have all become new members of IPPF.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Copies of the International Planned Parenthood Federation's Financial Statement will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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