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Iraq: Iranian-backed Terrorist Activity

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As coalition partners, the British Government regularly exchange views with the US authorities, including Paul Bremer, on all issues pertaining to Iraq.

Iraq: Attacks on Coalition Forces

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We believe that attacks on coalition forces, and other attacks aimed at undermining reconstruction efforts and stability, are being carried out both by former regime elements and by international terrorist networks.

Kosovo: Unauthorised Weapons

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) statistics, the following weapons have been seized by the Kosovo Force (KFOR) since their arrival in Kosovo in 1999. This includes weapons handed in as part of general amnesties:

    1,249 Pistols

    116 Support Weapons (Heavy mortars etc)

    1,257 Anti-tank weapons

    270 Rockets/Missiles

    13,525 Grenades/Mines

    17,537 Miscellaneous items (uniforms/gas masks etc)

    766,475 Rounds of ammunition

UNMIK has also issued 164 weapon authorised cards (WAC) for defensive weapons only since 1999. UNMIK receives an average of five WAC applications per week. 35 WACs have been issued to date in 2003. A further 26,000 weapon registration cards (WRC) have been issued for hunting and recreational weapons only. There are currently 7,000 outstanding WRC applications.

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The UN Development Programme estimates that at present there are approximately 400,000 illegal weapons in Kosovo.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Unauthorised Weapons

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made by international and state authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina towards eliminating illegal and unauthorised weapons.[HL4811]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Since 1998 the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) and the local armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have run Operation Harvest, aimed at collecting illegal small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Bosnia.

In 2002 it collected 8,394 small arms (rifles, pistols and revolvers); 2,298,967 rounds of ammunition of less than 20 millimetres; 19,435 rounds of ammunition between 20 and 76 millimetres; 2,486 rounds of ammunition of more than 76 millimetres; 38,199 hand grenades, 4,156 mines; 8,163 kilograms of explosives, and 48,090 other items (mortars, mortar rounds, rifle grenades, and hand-made ordnance). UK forces have played a central role in the operation.

Small Arms and Light Weapons:South-East Europe

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the future plans and programmes of the south-east Europe clearing house for the control of small arms and light weapons (SEESAC), supported by the United Nations Development Programme; whether they consider these should be improved; and, if so, how.[HL4812]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: SEESAC's future plans are to continue to provide operational, fund-raising and technical assistance, management information, co-ordination and overview of current and future efforts for the implementation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) activities in support of the Stability Pact Regional Implementation Plan in south-east Europe. This will include continuing to raise awareness among governments and civil society about small arms issues, and formulating national strategies for SALW control.

Specific pioneering projects include the development of micro-disarmament standards, a SALW awareness support pack and SALW survey protocols. Recent research into SALW-related community-based policing, illegal SALW trafficking, detection of concealed bulk ammunition, and an evaluation of UNDP Albania SALW project will now be integrated into future SALW control work within the region.

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The Government fully support the excellent work being carried out by the SEESAC Centre. Since its inception in May 2002, SEESAC has demonstrated that it has the capability to provide high-quality technical and operational assistance to international efforts to curb the proliferation of, and misuse of, small arms and light weapons. SEESAC is an asset available not only for south-east Europe but for all organisations conducting SALW initiatives.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What co-operation and assistance they, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and Europol are offering to the South Eastern Co-operation Initiative (SECI) regional centre for combating trans-border crime, based in Romania, in particular to SECI's Task Force on Small Arms and Light Weapons.[HL4841]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK supports the work of the Southeast European Co-operative Initiative (SECI) centre and provides valuable support in the form of liaison and technical training.

HM Customs and Excise have provided full training to Albanian customs and border patrol units in the areas of small arms and light weapons (SALW) detection and smuggling. The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) (Firearms Unit) was instrumental in the development of a weapons and firearms intelligence training course to support individual countries for the SECI centre. This included training in deployable weapons intelligence units, the intelligence cycle, the Interpol Weapons and Explosives Tracing System (IWETS), a national intelligence model for SALW, a one-day participatory exercise and the detection of concealed bulk ammunition and weapons. Students from 11 countries in the region attended the course, representing national intelligence agencies, police criminal intelligence units and customs services.

NCIS has also assisted in the preparation for the SECI firearms-related project and has provided valuable analysis for a project that helps to enhance the overall work of the centre.

The issue of Europol's relationship with the SECI crime centre is currently being considered in working groups of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Small Arms and Light Weapons: Illicit Trade

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the outcomes of the review held in July 2003 of the United Nations conference on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.[HL4813]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UN biennial meeting of states on illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) reviewed the implementation of the UN programme of action in the area to date. It helped to set the scene for progress in the fight against the misuse of SALW through which

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consensus on tighter controls in this area may be built, and allowed for extensive discussion outside the formal conference proceedings.

The UK initiated two successful side meetings in which around 30 interested states discussed ways to strengthen international controls on small arms transfers. The meetings established a considerable degree of support for regional processes.

Afghanistan: Electoral Registration

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will ensure that electoral registration in Afghanistan proceeds in time for the national elections next summer and will be adequately supported by trained police officers and staff.[HL4828]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Voter registration in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Interim Electoral Commission and the Joint Electoral Management Body appointed by President Karzai on 26 July, working in conjunction with the UN Assistant Mission to Afghanistan. The UK was one of the first donors to contribute towards the UN's appeal for funds to support voter registration. So far we have committed £3 million. We shall continue to monitor progress with other doners, and will work with them on meeting the UN's current estimated budget shortfall of 53 million US dollars (£32.5 million) for registration.

Security is essential for preparations for the elections outside Kabul. As part of our wider £53 million commitment towards security sector reform, the UK is contributing trainers and specialist advisers to German-led efforts to build up a new Afghan national police force. Although this contribution is not directly connected to elections, the Ministry for the Interior intends to provide police to support the electoral process throughout Afghanistan.


Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information will be available to the international donors meeting on Cameroon to be held on 29 October concerning progress towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law; and[HL4802]

    Whether they will raise the continued problems of independent newspapers and broadcasters at the meeting of Cameroon's international partners, to be held at Marlborough House on 31 October, in particular in light of the situation of Freedom FM, a private radio station in Cameroon, whose equipment was sealed by the Cameroon police in May; and[HL4921]

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    Whether they will ensure that the meeting of Cameroon's international partners to be held at Marlborough House on 31 October will consider proposals for elimination of corruption in Cameroon in the light of Transparency International's ranking of Cameroon at 124th out of 133 states surveyed for corruption.[HL4922]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 31 October there will be a Commonwealth-sponsored meeting of Cameroon's international partners to discuss proposals for reform and possible international assistance implementing them. The meeting will focus on electoral management, human rights, the rule of law and judicial independence, and decentralisation. We expect the issue of tackling corruption to be discussed under the rubric of legal and judicial reforms, and that the issue of freedom of expression will also be discussed under proposals to strengthen the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms.

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