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|Number of previous abortions by Strategic Health Authority of residence, 2009|
|Number of previous abortions|
|Strategic Health Authority||0||1||2||3||4||5 or more||Total|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the report by International Christian Concern that Abdul Sattar Khawasi, Deputy Secretary of the Afghan Lower House of Parliament, has called for the public execution of Christians recently captured in Afghanistan; and whether they will make representations about the matter to the Government of Afghanistan.[HL536]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of reports of the Deputy Secretary of the Afghan Lower House of Parliament's remarks regarding the execution of Christian converts from Islam. We understand that the remarks were made during a debate over a recent series of television reports, which showed video footage of Afghans converting to Christianity. As a result, two international non-government organisations have been accused of proselytising and are currently under investigation by Afghan authorities. Under Afghan law, proselytising is illegal and conversion from Islam is a capital offence. We are following the investigation closely, but cannot pre-empt the findings at this stage.
The Government are opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and continue to strive for the global abolition of capital punishment. The Government also strongly support the right to freedom of religion or belief, including full implementation of those norms laid out in Article 2 of the Afghan constitution, which provides for freedom of religion. As an EU member, the UK adopted a set of EU council conclusions on freedom of religion or belief. These conclusions reaffirm the EU's commitment to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, including the right to adopt, change or abandon one's religion or belief of one's own free will. The Government are working to support all individuals who face discrimination and persecution on the basis of religion, including Christians, wherever they are in the world. Pending the outcome of the investigation, we will raise this case with the Afghan Government as necessary.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government have not commissioned any such research; however, the Forestry Commission does not consider that there is any reason to associate the rise in the number or severity of tree diseases with the use of chemical weed control agents.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Department for Work and Pensions produces three leaflets for customers whose first language is not English. These leaflets provide basic information on the benefits and services available to customers from:Jobcentre Plus;Pension Service; andDisability and Carer Service.
The leaflets tell customers how they can contact these organisations to find out more information and to claim the benefits they are entitled to. Each leaflet contains information in two European languages (English
23 Jun 2010 : Column WA179
During the budget address on 15 June, the Premier of the Cayman Islands announced the privatisation of the water authority. Privatisation can only occur once local legislation has been amended to allow for the sale, and following a number of steps to ensure adherence with proper procedures and due diligence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received representations from Congolese politicians proposing an independent commission of inquiry into the death of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and, if so, what was their response.[HL522]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have not received any representations from Congolese politicians proposing an independent commission of inquiry into the death of Floribert Chebeya.
My honourable friend Henry Bellingham's Statement of 3 June 2010 called for a full, proper, and transparent investigation into the death of Mr Chebeya. President Kabila has ordered a full investigation into the death of Mr Chebeya which we fully support.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the protection of human rights activists and those working for the strengthening of civil society in that country in light of the alleged murders of activists and journalists.[HL523]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are deeply concerned at the increasing intimidation and violence faced by human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We follow cases of concern closely and press the Government of DRC bilaterally and with our EU partners to meet their responsibility for protecting human rights defenders, journalists and civil society. Most recently our ambassador to the DRC raised our concerns at the death of human rights defender Floribert Chebeya with government officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We are also providing practical support to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society are able to carry out their work. Our embassy in Kinshasa is implementing EU guidelines on human rights defenders. With our EU partners in the DRC we met eight non-government organisations (NGOs) representing human rights defenders who gave their feedback on the EU human rights strategy. We have appointed a liaison officer and made their contact details available to local NGOs and civil society. The UN Organization Mission in DRC (MONUC) Protection Unit also provides protection services to those in danger including relocation and advice on personal security.
We also support a media fund jointly administered with France and Sweden to support professionalisation, regulation, and the economic viability of the media in the DRC. Funding goes to local media organisations and NGOs including Journalists in Danger, which campaigns for freedom of the press.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the first independent review of the employment and support allowance and the work capability assessment will begin; how they will appoint its members; and whether it will be open to groups representing people undergoing assessments.[HL477]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government have a statutory commitment to an independent review of the operation of the work capability assessment annually for the first five years. We are in the process of commissioning this review and aim for it to report before the end of the year.
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