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Kazakhstan: British Embassy

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A suitable location in Astana has been identified for the move of the British Embassy in Kazakhstan during the next financial year.

The Kazakh authorities have been very helpful in identifying possible sites for a British long-term presence in Astana.

We continue to discuss the matter closely with other European Union members, but the decision to establish an embassy in Astana is not dependent upon their co-operation.

Iraq: "Interim Government Statistics"

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Iraqi Ministry of Health gave the figures referred to, to a UK official in Baghdad after they had been published in the Arabic media. There was no official source documentation provided.

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) released a statement on 28 January. It explained that in its figures, collated from some 180 hospitals:

"Casualties of car bombs and other clearly identifiable terrorist attacks are recorded as being caused by terrorist incidents. All other casualties are recorded as military action. The casualties may include insurgents, civilians as well as Iraqi police who are treated in MoH hospitals. The casualties may have been killed or injured by terrorist or coalition forces. Coalition forces include Iraqi police, Iraqi security forces, and the multinational forces"

Afghanistan and Iraq: Criminal Justice Systems

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK has provided £2 million to support capacity building in and modernisation of the Afghan Ministry of Justice under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Justice Sector Reform Programme. We have helped establish policy and communication units to make key decisions on justice issues and to co-ordinate activities between the Ministry of Justice and provincial authorities. The construction and refurbishment of provincial and district court buildings is well under way.

As part of the UK's long-term support for the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, we are providing £1.1 million over two years to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) project to enhance the ability of the criminal justice system quickly to deal with counter-narcotics cases. We are co-ordinating closely with Italy, which has the international lead on criminal justice reform in Afghanistan, the US, Norway and other international partners.

This work includes the training and mentoring of a criminal justice task force of up to 77 investigators, prosecutors and judges, which will work towards convictions of medium value traffickers by the end of the year. While working with the Afghans and the US on an interim detention facility, the UNODC project will result in a secure court and prison facility, on which an Her Majesty's Prison Service adviser has
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made recommendations. We are also doing additional work with Italy and other partners to strengthen the counter-narcotics law and the criminal procedural code.

Afghanistan is a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Therefore the court may exercise jurisdiction with respect to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed there after 1 May 2003 when the statute entered into force for Afghanistan or after 1 July 2002 if Afghanistan were to make an appropriate declaration.

We are helping the Iraqi Government to rebuild their legal infrastructure by providing training in a number of areas. The Department for International Development is providing over £2 million to train judges, prosecutors and lawyers to increase independence, professionalism and respect for human rights and to support the strengthening of the Iraqi Bar Association. We are also providing training for the judges and prosecutors in the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) which is part of the Iraqi criminal justice system. The IST was established to try members of the former regime accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and certain other serious crimes under existing Iraqi law including: the manipulation of the judiciary; squandering public resources; and the threat or use of force against other Arab States. The UK has also been providing support to improve prison standards in the south of Iraq.

Iraq is not a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Therefore the court can only exercise jurisdiction with respect to such crimes committed there if they were committed by a national of a state party, if Iraq were to make an appropriate declaration or if there were a referral by the Security Council.

Small Arms Transfers: UN Members

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Working with other United Nations (UN) member states to reduce illicit movements of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is a high priority for the Government. We have allocated £13.25 million between 2004–07 to support programmes aimed at achieving this. The UK is an active participant in the open-ended working group on marking and tracing of SALW, and, along with European Union member states, we continue to push for a legally binding instrument that includes SALW ammunition. We recognise that brokering is another area where tighter controls are needed and fully support the establishment, no later than 2007, of a UN group of government experts to consider this important issue in depth.

One of our SALW priorities is promoting the Transfer Control Initiative, which aims at agreement on common international standards governing small
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arms transfers at the UN Programme of Action Review Conference on Small Arms in 2006. The UK is supporting this initiative by organising sub-regional workshops and bilateral meetings, which we hope will lead to common agreement on responsibility in SALW transfers.

UN Register of Conventional Arms

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Kingdom has supported the operation and development of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms since its establishment in 1992. The Government have reported every year on all seven categories of major equipment covered by the register and have provided additional background information.

The UK encourages member states to participate in the register. We have supported the work of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs (UN DDA) by participating and funding regional workshops which explain the register's operation. Through the formal periodic reviews of the register, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand the register's scope, and have proposed recommendations to encourage reporting and participation.

Member states are themselves responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of their reports. We have supported the UN DDA in its ability to verify the accuracy of information provided, but we recognise that participation in the register is voluntary and the scope of information provided is a national prerogative.

The UK also co-sponsors the annual UN General Assembly resolution that underpins the register's operation by inviting all states to participate.

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