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Domestic Violence

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government have emphasised that all forms of violence are unacceptable and that domestic violence can occur in all types of relationship, including those in which a woman abuses a man and in same sex relationships. Both our Break the Chain campaign and guidance to chief constables about the definition of domestic violence for statistical returns issued earlier in the year reflect this gender neutral approach.

How each police force tackles domestic violence is an operational matter for the chief officer.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Earlier this year we clarified the definition of domestic violence for statistical purposes. This new definition should improve the quality and consistency of domestic violence statistics, regardless of whether a man is abusing a woman, a woman is abusing a man, or in same sex relationships. That should bring about an important improvement in our knowledge of the extent and nature of domestic violence.

I cannot say at this stage whether any forthcoming victim survey will specifically address the issues raised in the Question.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Alcohol is often a factor in violence against partners, as in other crimes of violence. The Government are developing a strategy to tackle alcohol misuse in all its forms. One of these broad aims is to protect individuals and society from anti-social and criminal behaviour associated with all forms of alcohol misuse. We expect to publish the strategy, after consultation, in early 2000.

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Environmental Information: Access

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the revised regime for access to environmental information during the consultation period for the draft Freedom of Information Bill.[HL3599]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Work on how to give effect to the provisions of the 1990 European Community Directive (90/313/EEC) and the Aarhus Convention (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, which the United Kingdom signed in June 1998), is ongoing.

The revised regime on access to environmental information will be set out in the Bill when it is introduced into Parliament. It is not intended to publish it before this time.

Kosovo: Contact Group

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the governments represented on the Contact Group are bound by the private commitments (including eventual incorporation of the KLA in the Kosovo military forces and direct funding for Kosovo institutions under the US State Department guidance) made to the KLA by US Secretary of State Albright during the Rambouillet discussions and made public by the Foreign Minister of Albania on 24 February; and whether this has been communicated to the KLA.[HL3069]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We are not aware of any such undertaking by the US Secretary of State.

Abdullah Ocalan

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that Mr. A. Ocalan received a fair trial in Turkey or not; and whether they will ask for internationally acceptable conditions for defence counsel in any appeal against conviction or sentence.[HL3415]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of the observations of 21 June by members of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on this matter. We are also aware of the concerns raised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with regard to the treatment of Mr. Ocalan's lawyers.

The conviction and sentencing of Mr. Ocalan are matters for the Turkish courts. We understand that an appeal is now pending. It is in the first place for the Appeal Court to review the outcome of the trial.

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We are aware that Mr. Ocalan's lawyers have applied to the European Court of Human Rights for a stay of execution. We will continue to monitor closely this and other aspects of appeal proceedings. We have made clear to the Turkish authorities the importance we attach to all proceedings being transparent and conducted in accordance with due process. We have also reiterated on numerous occasions our opposition as a matter of principle to the use of the death penalty.

Turkey: Minister of State's Visit

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What subjects will be discussed with the Government of Turkey by the Right Honourable Joyce Quin, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, when she visits that country in the near future.[HL3542]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Ms Quin, will discuss a broad range of bilateral and multilateral issues during her visit to Turkey on 12 to 14 July. In particular, Ms Quin hopes to discuss Turkey's relations with the European Union, Cyprus, human rights and European Defence.

Ecuador and Peru: Cross-border Co-operation

Baroness Hooper asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to support the Binational Plan for Border Integration between Ecuador and Peru, following the successful conclusion of the peace process between the two countries.[HL3557]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My honourable friend Tony Lloyd MP, Minister of State, visited Peru and Ecuador in January 1999. During his visit, he expressed Her Majesty's Government's interest in the process of cross-border co-operation and explained that the UK had led the debate within the EU on support for the implementation of the then recently-concluded peace agreement. Like our EU partners, we are committed to giving serious consideration to the project proposals of the Binational Commission on Border Integration once these emerge (probably in November 1999). But in the meantime the UK is already working on ways to support the peace agreement. For example, the FCO has recently sponsored a project using schools and colleges as a medium to bring young people together from both sides of the border; and in February 1999 we sponsored a Ministry of Defence expert to attend an international seminar in Quito about the future role of the Ecuadorean Armed Forces in the wake of the peace agreement.

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War Crimes: Former Yugoslavia

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people from the former Republic of Yugoslavia have been indicted as war criminals; and how many of these have been taken into custody.[HL3562]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has publicly indicted 90 individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In addition, it has issued an undisclosed number of "sealed" indictments.

Of the 90 indictees, six have since died; 18 have had charges against them dropped; and one is serving his sentence. Twenty-eight of the remaining 65 indictees are in the tribunal's custody, including six persons whose convictions are under appeal.

In addition, domestic courts in former Yugoslavia have brought some prosecutions against persons accused of having committed atrocities.

Congo: Peace Process

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they are doing bilaterally and through the United Nations agencies to encourage the peace process in the Congo; and what material assistance they have given to peace-keeping and reconstruction.[HL3569]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Britain is working hard for peace. We continue to support African efforts towards a peaceful settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We hope the ceasefire agreement signed in Lusaka on 10 July will bring an end to a war that has caused untold suffering and damage to the region. We have urged all parties to show commitment to the agreement. Britain stands ready, with the rest of the international community, to help consolidate the peace. And with our EU partners we have also made clear our readiness to help with rebuilding the country once the right conditions are in place. Prior to the conflict we pledged 10 million US dollars to a World Bank Trust Fund established for this purpose. The prospects for disbursement of the fund will soon be re-examined.

Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages is a public authority within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL3672]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes.

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