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European Union: Ambassadors

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave him on 4 April (Official Report, col. WA 71).

Sudan: Darfur

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is for the national prosecution services of the United Kingdom to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute here those referred to in the International Commission of Inquiry's report under the convention against torture. The situation in Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a United Nations Security Council Resolution on 31 March. The UK sponsored this resolution, and we believe that the ICC is the best judicial mechanism to deal with the perpetrators of the crimes in Darfur.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Such attacks are abhorrent. We have made, and continue to make clear to the government of Sudan that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

We understand that the African Union (AU) mission is increasingly co-ordinating its patrols to provide protection to women when they leave populated areas in search of food or firewood. Where this is happening we understand the number of reported rapes has decreased significantly and we are encouraging the AU to expand this practice.

The UK has contributed over £66 million towards the Darfur crisis since September 2003, including £500,000 towards the International Rescue Committee's Darfur programme, and £2.1 million towards Médecins Sans Frontières' health programme. These both contain components to tackle attacks on women. We have also contributed more than £14 million towards the AU mission to date.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My honourable friend the Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Chris Mullin) and the UK Special Representative for Sudan met Minni Arkoi Minnawi in London on 22 March. They made it clear to Mr Minnawi that he has responsibilities to ensure that the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) abides by its commitments in the N'Djamena ceasefire agreement and the Abuja humanitarian and security protocols. They emphasised that they expect the SLM/A to engage without pre-conditions and at the highest levels at the next round of Darfur peace talks in Abuja. The special representative urged the SLM/A and other Darfur parties to participate in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Nairobi on 9 January.

The EU and US are already participating directly in the African Union (AU) mission. We have a UK monitor and a UK planning officer working with the AU. We are also supporting the AU's monitoring mission, including with financial assistance (more than £14 million) and logistics (over 600 vehicles, as well as maps and ration packs). We are clear that the AU should remain in the lead in monitoring the ceasefire in Darfur, and we will continue to support it in this. The UN is also considering how best it can support the AU in its task, and we will play our part in any recommendations it makes.

A UK observer has attended previous rounds of the Abuja talks to provide support to both the parties and the African Union mediation. We plan to attend the next round, in a similar role.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are currently more than 2,500 African Union (AU) personnel deployed to Darfur. The current AU mandate requires it to carry out pro-active monitoring and allows it to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity under imminent threat of attack.

An AU-led assessment mission, including representatives from the European Union (EU), US, United Nations, Canada and the UK, has recently returned from Darfur, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, where it examined the work being undertaken by the AU mission and what further support donors could provide. We expect the mission to recommend that the AU focus on getting the current mission deployed and
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fully operational as quickly as possible, with a view to increasing the force size in due course. To this end, the UK has provided over £14 million and loaned technical expertise to the AU.

EU Presidency 2004

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My department has not asked other government departments to submit two priority issues for the United Kingdom presidency of the European Union. However we have undertaken some work to identify dossiers which are likely to take centre stage during our presidency. We will focus first and foremost on the EU agenda we inherit from the Luxembourg presidency. We have played a key part in shaping this agenda, and it is positive for the UK. It demonstrates that the EU is moving in the right direction, reforming and delivering on the issues that matter to people—jobs, security and promoting peace and prosperity globally, as well as at home.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister is committed to using the opportunity offered by our twin presidencies of the EU and the G8 to make real progress on climate change and Africa. We will work with our G8 and EU partners to ensure complementary action wherever possible.

We have identified a number of likely main priority dossiers within the broader agenda. However, the precise work programme—which also contains a wide range of other business—will continue to evolve, as it depends on the progress of business during the first half of the year and indeed on world events. Key dossiers on which we will focus include: better regulation; the services directive; the post-financial services action plan agenda—better implementation and enforcement of measures affecting the financial sector; the environment and sustainable development (including REACH—the chemicals directive); sugar reform; the Doha development agenda; development and Africa; climate change; transatlantic relations—in particular strengthening the economic partnership—counter-terrorism; peace, stability and reform in the Middle East; Russia; Ukraine and Turkey.

Bosnia: Srebrenica Massacre

Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK Government can confirm that Vinko Pandurevic surrendered voluntarily and was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague on 23 March 2005. Vujadin Popovic remains at large. The UK Government continue to work closely with partners, including the Russian Government, as well as with the ICTY, on all matters relating to the tribunal and outstanding fugitive indictees.

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