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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): United Nations peacekeeping operations and their personnel are accountable, through the commander of the operation in the field, the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations at UN Headquarters and the UN Secretary-General, to the Security Council.
Baroness Amos: Our embassy in Kabul has discussed our concerns about the alleged human rights abuses at Dasht-e-Leili with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Afghan Human Rights Commission. We support the UN's two-stage approach to the investigation: forensic investigations and dignified reburials now, followed, at a later stage, when the security situation improves, by more detailed witness interviews and investigations. It is important that further investigations should only take place when it is possible to protect potential witnesses. We understand that a UN-led investigation may start in the next few months.
Following their visit to Dasht-e-Leili in January this year, Physicians for Human Rights reported that there had been no deterioration or destruction of the site at Dasht-e-Leili. The UN view is that there is no need for static protection of the site.
Our consular staff in Durban were notified of Mr Bond's arrest on 7 February. They immediately contacted the South African police. During his detention, consular staff arranged medical support for Mr Bond and visitor access for his wife. Our consular staff in Durban maintained close contact with Mr and Mrs Bond throughout. Consular staff put pressure on the US authorities to resolve issues regarding Mr Bond's identity. Consular staff assisted with arrangements for Mr Bond's release and return to the UK and were at the airport to meet him on his arrival in Britain.lynne
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): I estimate the cost of this exercise to be over £1,000. This figure is based on an estimated average unit salary cost and an estimated time to collect this information in each of the 43 police forces. This estimate does not include the cost of transmitting the information or the cost to the Home Office of co-ordinating and collating it.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Each department and agency is responsible, under its Minister, for maintaining its own appropriate levels of protective security. To help meet this responsibility, protective security policy is decided, and advice and guidance provided, through a Cabinet Office committee structure. In addition, the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) helps departments to secure their systems by disseminating reports of significant electronic attack threats from a wide range of sources.lynne
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Central government assistance to those systems that are considered to be part of the critical national infrastructure is by way of the Unified Incident Reporting and Alert Scheme (UNIRAS), which is part of the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC).
UNIRAS is the UK Government CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) and receives reports of significant electronic attack incidents, threats, new vulnerabilities and countermeasures from its customer base and other commercial, government and international sources. It then validates, amends (where appropriate) and disseminates the information back to its customers through e-mail alerts and warnings. In addition, UNIRAS provides a helpdesk for its customers, giving advice on IT security incidents, particularly internet related problems; and collates reports of IT security incidents supplied by its customers and issues regular statistics. These reports are suitably amended to protect commercial or departmental sensitivies.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The Government are pleased to accounce new measures to support female victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK.
From today, safe accommodation and a range of services will be provided to support female victims of human trafficking through a non-governmental organisation. A six-month pilot scheme located in London will cater for approximately 25 women, on a rolling basis, who meet the criteria for access to the services, including a willingness to come forward and co-operate with the authorities in the combating of international organised crime that could lead to prosecutions of criminals.
We will consider, in light of individual circumstances, whether it would be appropriate to allow such victims who have co-operated to remain here. Where they are to return home, we will assist them to do so, providing them with initial counselling, ensuring that they have suitable accommodation to return to and providing help to enable them to reintegrate into their own community and find employment.
We are also publishing a new best practice toolkit for the police, immigration officers and others who deal with illegal immigrants and trafficking victims. The toolkit will help them to identify victims and to provide practical advice on how to deal with them appropriately.
The Sexual Offences Bill, introduced into the House of Lords on 28 January 2003, also proposes new comprehensive offences of trafficking for sexual exploitation to replace the stop-gap offence introduced by the NIA Act 2002 of trafficking in prostitution. These new offences tackle the movement of people into, within and out of the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation and will carry maximum penalties of 14 years' imprisonment. The offence relating to trafficking within the UK applies equally to UK nationals trafficked from place to place in the UK and to foreign nationals brought here and then moved around from place to place within the UK. This is the first time that the trafficking of UK nationals within the UK has been tackled in legislation.
They also go further than the provisions in the NIA Act in specifying that it will be a criminal offence to traffic someone for the purposes of submitting them to a sex offence, rather than limiting this to trafficking them for the purposes of exploiting their prostitution. This allows us to offer greater protection against all forms of sexual trafficking; for example, for those who are trafficked in order to be sexually assaulted by others where there is no prostitution taking place.
In addition, the Bill introduces new offences to tackle directly the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The activities that the offences cover include buying the sexual services of a child, causing or encouraging a child into commercial sexual exploitation, facilitating the commercial sexual exploitation of a child and controlling the activities of a child involved in prostitution. The maximum penalties available for these offences will range from seven years to life imprisonment depending upon the nature of the offence committed and the age of the child victim.
All these provisions together will set in place a comprehensive framework of robust legislation and improved support that will enable us both to bear down on perpetrators, often organised criminals, and provide a better response to victims.
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