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Guantanamo Bay

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Last month the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the US District Court decision that no US court has jurisdiction to grant habeas corpus relief to non-US citizens held by the US in Guantanamo Bay. There is however likely to be an appeal against this decision to the US Supreme Court. The US have established a system of military commissions which, where appropriate, will be able to prosecute the detainees but no such prosecutions have yet been carried out. It seems unlikely that the court of any other state would consider itself to have jurisdiction over persons held at Guantanamo Bay.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary's exchange with Colin Powell on 23 January formed part of the continuing dialogue between the Government and the United States Government on the welfare and position of the UK detainees in Guantanamo Bay. We continue to press the US to make decisions on the future of the detainees. bjc


Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The EU released a statement in February 2002 about the case of TV6, stressing the importance of independent media. The UK also raised this during bilateral human rights talks with the Russians in September 2002.

ORT has not been closed: it continues to broadcast under its new name First Channel.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: No. lynne

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Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many occasions they have made representations to the Russian Government about the freedom of the press and other media in Russia.[HL2430]

Baroness Amos: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office raises media freedom regularly with the Russian Government both bilaterally and through the EU (which made a statement on media freedom in Russia in July last year). During our bilateral human rights talks with the Russians in September 2002 and March 2003, we raised our concerns over the closure of Russian TV channels, radio stations and newspapers as well as the continued harassment of journalists, particularly those reporting on Chechnya and those from Russia's regions. In addition, we regularly lobby on individual cases including through the FCO Freedom of Expression Panel, via EU demarches (e.g. on Grigory Pasko in Sept 2002), and during our bilateral talks (e.g. on Valentin Danilov and Igor Sutyagin in March 2003). DfID, in conjunction with the FCO, runs a number of in-country programmes aimed at developing an independent media.


Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are providing any assistance to enable Nigeria to implement procedures to ensure free and fair elections. [HL2498]

Baroness Amos: The British Government have been closely involved in the election process throughout, providing extensive assistance to both the Independent National Electoral Commission and to civil society organisations. Assistance has been in such different areas as information dissemination to the public, training the media in election reporting, production of guidelines and training programmes for domestic monitors and international observers, advising on codes of practice for police conduct during elections and guidance to political parties in resolving disputes through the process of law.

In collaboration with other donors, we have supported the Commonwealth International Observation Group and training programmes for election officials. Rebo

Zimbabwe: Arms Embargo

Baroness Wilkins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any goods subject to the EU arms embargo have recently been approved for export to Zimbabwe.[HL2511]

Baroness Amos: The Government have approved the export to Zimbabwe of a Travelling Wave Tube (TWT) which has been repaired in the UK. A TWT is radar equipment used for air traffic control.

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The export licence was initially rejected because the TWT appeared on the military list. Its export would therefore have contravened the EU arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

The TWT has since been modified so that it is no longer suitable for military use. As a result, DTI Technologies Unit re-rated the TWT making it now a dual use good.

The decision to overturn the original rejection was made after discussion with export control section of Defence Intelligence Service. They have established that the equipment is for use at Bulawayo and Harare airports. There is no Zimbabwe air force facility at Bulawayo. There is one near the civil airport in Harare, but the military have their own radar. We are therefore satisfied that the TWT is for civilian use only.

This decision underlines our policy that targeted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe should not affect the lives of ordinary people unconnected with the Mugabe regime.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Exploitation of Natural Resources

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When and how they will respond to the latest report of the United Nations panel of experts on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[HL2515]

Baroness Amos: The UK supported Resolution 1457 (2003) which reiterates the UN Security Council's commitment to take appropriate action to help put an end to the plundering of the resources of the DRC. The report did not, however, contain sufficient information to substantiate the assertion made in it that the UK companies named had not complied with OECD guidelines. We have again asked the chairman of the Panel of Experts for this information (most recently on 11 March) and once it has been provided, we will respond to the report in more detail. bjc

Russia: Violence Against Women

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise the subject of violence against women, including domestic violence, at the next Russo-British human rights meeting.[HL2528]

Baroness Amos: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office discussed the issue of violence against women during bilateral talks with the Russian Government in September 2002. It is likely to be raised at the next talks, due in the first quarter of 2004, although the date of these talks has not yet been set.

We will also continue to raise the issue of violence against women with the Russian Government in other bilateral and multilateral fora.

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In addition, Her Majesty's Government have supported projects in this area, including emergency social and legal assistance to help women; monitoring women's rights through a network of women's NGOs; publicising women's issues through theatre; strengthening the Russian association of crisis centres for women and training volunteers to work in these centres.

Thailand: Unresolved Killings

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are discussing with the government of Thailand the recent increase in unresolved killings, the extent to which these may be linked to illegal exports of methamphetamines from Burma and the progress of the Thai investigation into summary killing.[HL2529]

Baroness Amos: Our ambassador in Bangkok has raised with the Thai Government our concerns about the dramatic increase in drugs-related deaths in Thailand since the start of the Thai "Campaign against Drugs" on 1 February. Our EU partners share these concerns. We are urging the Thai Government to adopt measures to prevent the death toll rising further and to proceed with independent investigations into each death. The Royal Thai Government have set up two official committees to investigate the deaths, many of which may be related to the drug trade. Our embassy in Bangkok regularly discusses drugs-related issues with the Thai Government and has provided some drugs-related project support. Joan

Iraq: Protection of Cultural Property

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bach on 26 March (WA 81), whether they have issued any guidance for military and other personnel as to specific archaeological sites and museums in Iraq which particularly need protection in the present conflict; and whether they have drawn upon the expertise of British specialists in the history and archaeology of Iraq in compiling such guidance.[HL2396]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): United Kingdom forces have been issued with guidance which reflects paragraph 53 of Additional Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions.

We have taken advice from a wide range of sources in drawing up a list of cultural property inside Iraq. Unless such property is used to support military effort, coalition forces will not attack historical, archaeological and cultural heritage sites.

In addition, coalition forces are taking every precaution to respect and avoid damage to holy sites.

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