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Sudan: Freedom of Religion

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are concerned about the human rights of all in Sudan regardless of their ethnic or religious background. We do make regular representations to the Sudanese Government, both bilaterally and through the EU-Sudan dialogue, about the treatment of minority groups.

Discrimination against Christians in Sudan tends to present itself in bureaucratic obstruction. Cases of harassment of Christian religious leaders have been reported, though these often appear to focus on political rather than religious activities. The case for "persecution" against a particular religious group is however less clear: southerners of all religions have suffered from mistreatment, while many thousands of Christians worship freely.

Religious freedom is, however, an important issue, and the applicability of Sharia to the national capital is currently being discussed at the peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya.

GCHQ Research Institute

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The new institute will be linked to a theoretical research programme into key areas of mathematics of interest to GCHQ, most of which will be classified.

European Union Constitutional Treaty

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The subsidiarity mechanism in the draft constitutional treaty forces the European Commission to reconsider any legislative proposal which one-third of national parliaments consider breaches the principle of subsidiarity. In practice this will make it very difficult for the European Commission to ignore the strongly held wishes of one-third of national parliaments—or indeed for the Council of Ministers to do so if it later came to consider the legislative proposal.
 
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Zimbabwe: England Cricket Tour

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government have not come to any view as to how the security situation will be in Zimbabwe in November. But Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport officials have been in close touch with the England and Wales Cricket Board over this tour, including the security aspects. The FCO's travel advice on Zimbabwe is publicly available on the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk and subject to constant review.

Cyprus: Legal Points of Entry

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is not for the British Government to define "legal points of entry" to Cyprus.

On 28 April the EU agreed a new regulation setting out arrangements for movement across the so-called Green Line. The regulation established special rules concerning the crossing of goods, services and persons.

The regulation states, inter alia, that "it is necessary to enable EU citizens to exercise their rights of free movement within the EU and set the minimum rules for carrying out checks on persons at the line and to ensure the effective surveillance of it, in order to combat the illegal immigration of third country nationals as well as any threat to public security and public policy. It is also necessary to define the conditions under which third country nationals are allowed to cross the line".

As long as it is consistent with the provisions of the Green Line regulation (set out above), and allows all EU citizens including Turkish Cypriots to exercise their rights of free movement, it is a matter for the Cypriot authorities to decide what checks and controls they put in place regarding movement across the line.

Roma Children

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government of course do not condone the compulsory separation of children from their parents for educational reasons. However, I welcome the continued debate on how to improve the educational possibilities for Roma children, who live in some of the most marginalised communities in Europe.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to support projects across Europe through its Global Opportunities Fund, in co-operation with both governments and NGOs, including initiatives which promote social inclusion and education for children from minority groups such as Roma.

Iraq: Red Cross Report

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): A copy of the International Committee of the Red Cross's report on the treatment by the coalition forces of prisoners of war and other protected persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq during arrest, internment and interrogation, dated 10 February 2004, was passed by an official working for the Coalition Provisional Authority to the offices of Sir Jeremy Greenstock and the senior British military representative in Iraq on 12 February.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The International Committee of the Red Cross's report on the treatment by the coalition forces of prisoners of war and other protected persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq during arrest, internment and interrogation, dated 10 February 2004, was formally passed to Ambassador Bremer and Lt Gen Sanchez on 26 February. An advance copy was passed by an official working for the Coalition Provisional Authority to the offices of Sir Jeremy Greenstock and the senior British military representative in Iraq on 12 February. The latter passed a copy of the report to Headquarters Multi-national Division (South East) on 13 February and to the permanent joint headquarters on 16 February, and posted a copy to the Ministry of Defence that arrived on 27 February. The Ministry of Defence did not pass a copy of the report to any other coalition partners.
 
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