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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK has been instrumental in pressing for and supporting demarches against the Burmese regime, including on human rights abuses against the ethnic groups. The EU has made numerous statements and demarches covering a wide range of human rights abuses including those inflicted on the Karen, Karenni and Shan people. The most recent EU demarche was made on 9 June. These have been conveyed to the regime by the local presidency in Rangoon.

Jamil Bassam and Ibrahim Khodebandeh

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our embassy in Damascus repeatedly asked the Syrian authorities for information on Jamil Bassam and Ibrahim Khodebandeh following their detention. The Syrian authorities did not respond to any of the embassy's four formal notes before the men were deported. We have taken this matter up with the Syrian Government and our embassy in Tehran has made it clear to the Iranian Government that we are taking a keen interest in the human rights of these two men.

Indonesia

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC) brokered the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) agreed on 9 December 2002 between the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). To monitor the peace agreement in Aceh both sides agreed to international observers from Thailand and

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the Philippines. The observers were removed in April 2003 following attacks on their offices.

We remain convinced that a long-term solution to the Aceh problem can only be achieved through political negotiation and consultation between the Indonesian Government and the Acehenese people. We support the statements issued by the EU, US, Japan and the World Bank, as co-chairs of the Tokyo Preparatory Conference on Peace and Reconstruction in Aceh, urging both sides to resume political dialogue. The UK, and the international community, support Indonesia's territorial integrity. We see no scope, at the moment, for a supranational body to become involved in the conflict in Aceh.

Congo

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the political and operational arrangements for the European Union military force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, what is their policy towards the respective responsibilities of the United Nations Security Councils and the European Council when intervention by European Union forces outside the European Union is being planned or undertaken.[HL3738]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Under the UN charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The EU's security and defence policy can be used to support the UN. This is the case in the operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the EU is operating under a UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) mandate. In this case, the UNSCR sets out the mandate for the force and authorises the deployment of the force under that mandate. But the political control and strategic direction of the EU operation within the mandate is a matter for the EU.

The EU can also conduct crisis management operations without requiring a specific UNSCR to authorise the mission; for example, when the EU is operating at the request of the country concerned, as is the case for the EU's mission in Macedonia.

Guantanamo Bay: UK Nationals

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Amos on 8 April (WA 19), whether they have asked the United States authorities to give the Government access to all the facts of the nine individual cases of the British subjects held at Guantanamo Bay, which are necessary to determine their status; and, if not, why not.[HL3798]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The assessment of the status of the detainees is a matter for the US, as

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the detaining power. We have, however, discussed the detainees' status with the US authorities. They have told us that they do not consider any of the British detainees to be entitled to prisoner of war status. The US authorities have assured us that the detainees are being treated humanely and consistently with the principles of the Geneva Conventions.

Whatever their status, the detainees are entitled to humane treatment and if prosecuted, a fair trial.

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Amos on 28 April (WA 61), what is the current response of the United States authorities to the Government's continuing pressure on them to make decisions on the future of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay; and for how long the Government are prepared to tolerate their detention without trial.[HL3799]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement I made on 7 July (Official Report, col. 27).

We continue to press the US to resolve the position of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

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

    Whether, in their view, the national security of either the United States or the United Kingdom would be put at risk if the nine British subjects held at Guantanamo Bay were now to be transferred to United Kingdom custody.[HL3800]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We understand that the United States authorities have not made a decision to transfer any of the British nationals held at Guantanamo Bay to the UK. The impact on US and UK security would be taken into account by the Government in their approach to any potential transfer of the detainees to the UK.

Sexual Offences Legislation: Sado- masochistic Activity

Baroness Walmsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to amend sexual offences and offences against the person legislation to end the criminalisation of consenting adults who engage in sado-masochistic sexual activity when that activity results in no lasting harm or injury.[HL3416]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have no current plans to amend the sexual offences and offences against the person legislation to take account of this issue.

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Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have allowed a colour bar to be prevalent in anti-discrimination legislation by excluding "colour" discrimination from protection in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003.[HL3432]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We do not accept that we have allowed a colour bar to be prevalent in anti-discrimination legislation by excluding "colour" discrimination from protection in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003. Most of the 1976 Act, which lists colour as one of the grounds of unlawful racial discrimination, was already more than compliant with the directive. The changes introduced by the regulations to ensure full compliance with the directive and are relatively few in number. Furthermore one of these changes, namely the definition of harassment, reflects current case law (which will continue to apply in cases involving harassment on grounds of colour).

"Colour" discrimination has been excluded from the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 because we consider that the power conferred by the European Communities Act 1972 would confer authority to combat discrimination on grounds of colour, in the course of grounds of colour, in the course of implementing the Race Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC), if it had not already been used to make good any shortfall in Community competence in certain areas of the 1976 Act corresponding to those mentioned in the directive (in order to deal with the limitation in Article 3.1 of the directive).

Trespassers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which persons or organisations they have consulted about the provisions of Clause 61 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill.[HL3741]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government signalled their intention to introduce new measures to extend police powers when dealing with trespassers in a guidance document Managing Unauthorised Camping published by the Home Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). Responses to these new measures were received from a number of respondents including local authorities, the National Farmers Union and the police.


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