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8 Jun 2005 : Column WA67

Written Answers

Wednesday, 8 June 2005.

Iraq: Civilian Casualties

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We believe that the Iraqi authorities remain in the best position to record the civilian casualties in their country. The Iraqi Ministry of Health has released figures covering the period from 5 April 2004, when collation of statistics began, to 1 March 2005. These figures show that 6,265 Iraqis were killed and 22,564 injured during that period. The Iraqi Ministry of Health points out that this figure includes all Iraqis, including civilians, Iraqi security forces and insurgents, killed as a result of violence.

Middle East: British Casualties

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: There have been a number of British nationals killed in military and terrorist-related incidents in the Middle East since 1995. These include, of the 88 deaths of British personnel serving in the current operation in Iraq, 50 who were killed in action. We cannot, however, provide figures for those killed in terrorist-related incidents as our records do not list the deaths of British nationals by this category. To provide such figures over the last decade would incur disproportionate costs.

EU: UK Presidency

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: There are no current proposals from the Portuguese Government for the United Kingdom to take forward during its presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2005.

Indigenous Peoples

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Triesman: By Article 55 of its charter, the United Nations has a mandate to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. This includes people belonging to indigenous groups.

The British High Commission in Botswana regularly discusses the Basarwa issue with the government and other interested parties. High Commission staff have visited the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) on three occasions over the past two years. My honourable friend the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Chris Mullin) also discussed the issue with interested parties, including President Mogae, when they met in Abuja in December 2003. We believe that the Botswana Government's removal of all references to ethnicity in the constitution has been handled through parliamentary procedures in line with constitutional proprieties and as such does not need to be taken forward by the Secretary-General.

Pakistan: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The UK condemns all abuses of human rights and was concerned to see reports of human rights activists being targeted in Lahore on 14 May. We understand that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is aware of the incident. However, we do not yet know whether this will result in any follow up investigation.

EU: Northern Dimension

Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: No decision has yet been taken on the timing of the first ministerial meeting under the Second Action Plan of the Northern Dimension.
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Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The European Union has not yet decided how, and in what form, the Northern Dimension should be extended when the current action plan expires in 2006. Extension of the action plan is one of the options for consideration. The UK supports the Northern Dimension. During our presidency of the EU we will work with partners to agree on a way forward that ensures the goals of the Northern Dimension are met in an effective and efficient way.

Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: Since March 2005 the European Commission has circulated two drafts of its communication, Northern Dimension Options Beyond 2006. EU partners have also shared their views on the future of the Northern Dimension at a number of EU and bilateral meetings.

EU: Information Campaign

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: No, the Government have not made such a request.

EU: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: The EU has yet to fix dates for human rights sub-committee meetings with Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia. The EU is negotiating the establishment of sub-committees, which would discuss the human rights commitments set out in the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans, with other Mediterranean partner countries whose association agreements are in force. The agendas for such subcommittees will be negotiated and agreed by all EU member states. As presidency, the UK will also chair the EuroMed 10th anniversary event, scheduled
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to take place in Barcelona in November. We want EuroMed partners to agree at the tenth anniversary event a limited number of medium-term targets in key areas, including good governance.

Iraq: Minority Groups

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: Like all Iraqis, the Sabian Mandaeans and Christians now benefit from the human rights principles enshrined in the transitional administrative law (TAL), which remains in effect until the adoption of the permanent constitution later this year. The TAL safeguards the fundamental rights of all Iraqis: freedom of religion, freedom of expression and a free and independent judiciary.

Iraq's future constitution is a matter for the Iraqis to debate and decide in the Transitional National Assembly (TNA), elected on 30 January 2005. We will urge the Iraqis to ensure that the fundamental rights of all its citizens are protected, regardless of their sect or ethnicity.

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