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North Korea

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of Mr Park's case, and have received the appeal issued by Christian Solidarity Worldwide on his behalf.

We are currently discussing with EU partners action we might take.

Vietnam: Montagnard Christians

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are very concerned about the recent violence in the central highlands, and in particular about the reported deaths of several protestors. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (Gareth Thomas) raised the issue during his visit to Vietnam on 21 April. Our ambassador in Hanoi expressed our concern to the Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister on 16 April and again on 20 April with EU partners at the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With our EU partners, we called on the Vietnamese authorities to respect fully international human rights standards in their response to demonstrations; to allow the

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international community access to the area; and to address the grievances of the ethnic minority people in the central highlands.

My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mike O'Brien) raised the situation of the Montagnards as well as broader human rights issues, including freedom of religion, during his visit to Vietnam on 16–18 March 2004.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have given support to the call of King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia that the Government of Cambodia should give refuge to Montagnard Christians fleeing the central highlands of Vietnam.[HL2492]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We regularly raise with the Cambodian authorities the importance of fulfilling their obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its related 1967 protocol. We will also continue to reiterate to the Cambodian authorities the need for close co-operation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and of full access to the region for the UNHCR so that the status of those seeking refuge can be properly assessed.

Iraq: Alleged Punitive House Demolitions

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their position on the alleged policy of punitive house demolitions in Iraq; and whether they deem such policies to have had a role in provoking the recent violent upsurge in that country.[HL2525]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK strongly denies allegations that we have been involved in collective punishments, including the destruction of

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property, and would fully investigate any such allegation. Where property or land has been destroyed during the course of coalition activities we understand that the owners have been compensated.

Iraqi Special Tribunal

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

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the statute establishing the Iraqi Special Tribunal.[HL2546]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The statute establishing the Iraq Special Tribunal is publicly available on the Coalition Provisional Authority website:

Rural Delivery Review

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When their consultation on Lord Haskins's rural delivery review will start; how long it will last; and when they plan to publish the results.[HL2493]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Consultation on the Government's response to Lord Haskins' rural delivery review began with the publication of our initial response on 11 November last year. Since then a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties have been consulted, e.g. through stakeholder meetings, partnership working and web-based consultation on particular aspects of the work. A large number of representations have been received and are being taken into account. This process of consultation and partnership working will continue up to and beyond the Government's full response to Lord Haskins' Review, which will be in the context of a refreshed rural strategy as promised by the Secretary of State in her speech on 4 November.

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