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Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in raising concerns about the situation in Barrancabermeja, and Magdalena Medio with the Colombian Government. [25906]

Mr. MacShane: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) on 9 January 2002, Official Report, column 921W.

British Prisoners Overseas

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK nationals, domiciled in Scotland, are held in prison in foreign countries, broken down by (a) country of imprisonment, (b) gender of prisoner and (c) nature of the offence. [25911]

Mr. Bradshaw: Figures for the numbers of British nationals in prison overseas are compiled quarterly. These were last compiled as at 1 November 2001, when there were 3,485 British nationals in prison overseas. The next quarterly figures will be available at the end of January 2002.

We do not routinely compile data on UK prisoners overseas' according to their domicile in the UK or by gender, nor by nature of offence. Gathering the requested data in this format would incur disproportionate costs.


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last spoke to the President of Botswana concerning the situation in Zimbabwe. [26619]

Mr. Straw: My noble Friend, Baroness Amos, discussed Zimbabwe with President Mogae on 10 January. I discussed the situation in Zimbabwe with the Botswana Foreign Minister, Mompati Merafhe, on 20 December 2001.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the number of Zimbabwean residents who are planning to leave that country for refuge in the UK. [27427]

Mr. Bradshaw: We cannot be certain how many Zimbabwean residents may wish to seek refuge in the UK. As at 14 January 2002, there were 25,054 British nationals registered with the British high commission in Zimbabwe. There is no requirement for British nationals to inform our high commission if they plan to leave Zimbabwe, when they actually leave, or their destination.

16 Jan 2002 : Column 321W


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy objectives are in respect of Kashmir; and if he will make a statement. [27375]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are very concerned over the current tensions between India and Pakistan. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken frequently to his Indian and Pakistani counterparts in recent weeks, and has secured close co-operation between international partners. We continue to press India and Pakistan to resolve the issues between them through dialogue.

EU Events

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European

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Union for January and also the major European Union events for the period between 31 January and June 2002. [28333]

Peter Hain: Following is the information:

The following are the principle events in the EU between 1 February and June 2002 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue).

6–7ValladolidMinisterial Seminar on Democracy and Development
14BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
14–15BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council(4)
18–19BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
18–19BrusselsAgriculture Council
22–23BrusselsTelecoms and Information Society Council(4)
28BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
1BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council(5)
1BrusselsInternal Market, Consumers and Tourism Council
7BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs Council
11BrusselsResearch Council
11–12BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
15–16BarcelonaEuropean Council
18–19BrusselsAgriculture Council
23–24BrusselsDefence Ministers Meeting(4)
25–26BrusselsTransport and Telecom Council
27–28Monterrey, MexicoFinancing and Development Conference
5–6LuxembourgMigrations Council(6)
8LuxembourgFisheries Council
15–16LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
22–23ValenciaEuromed Conference
22–23LuxembourgAgriculture Council
25–26LuxembourgJustice and Home Affairs Council
27–30LuxembourgAgriculture Council(4)
3–4BrusselsTourism Council(4)
9Europe Day
13BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council with Defence Ministers
17–18MadridEU-LAC Summit
21BrusselsInternal Market, Consumers and Tourism Council
23BrusselsCulture and Audio-visual Council
24–26BrusselsEnvironment Council(4)
27–28BrusselsAgriculture Council
30BrusselsDevelopment Council
30BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
31–1 JuneBrusselsTransport Council(4)
3BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs Council
6–8BrusselsForeign Affairs Council(7)
6–7BrusselsIndustry and Energy Council
10–11BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
10–11 BrusselsAgriculture Council
11BrusselsFisheries Council
13–14BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
17–18BrusselsTransport and Telecom Council
17–18BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
21–22SevilleEuropean Council
24BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council(8)
24–25BrusselsEnvironment Council
26BrusselsHealth Council

(4) Ministerial informal

(5) Evening

(6) ASEM ministerial informal

(7) ASEM Ministers

(8) Possible

16 Jan 2002 : Column 323W


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise the question of human rights abuses in Tibet on the occasion of the forthcoming visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister. [27519]

Mr. MacShane: We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including Tibet. I take every opportunity to raise these with the Chinese authorities and will seek to do so with the Chinese Foreign Minister.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in (a) Tibet and (b) China. [27528]

Mr. MacShane: The human rights situation in Tibet shows no signs of improvement. We are concerned in particular about reports of arbitrary detention, torture and the "re-education" of monks and nuns. We raise Tibet with the Chinese authorities at every suitable opportunity.

The overall human rights situation in China continues to be a matter of serious concern. There has been considerable progress in many aspects, for example in the ability of individual citizens to manage their own lives, engage in business, travel freely and own a home. China has also shown an increased willingness to engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms. But severe restrictions remain on the enjoyment of civil and political rights, especially the freedoms of expression, religion and association.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the reductions in human rights abuses in (a) Tibet and (b) China that have resulted from his policy of (i) constructive and (ii) critical engagement. [27529]

Mr. MacShane: The dialogue process has enabled us to raise our concerns direct with the Chinese Government at senior level, and to press for change. It has facilitated

16 Jan 2002 : Column 324W

a programme of projects in China addressing such issues as the rule of law, legal and judicial independence, child rights and human rights awareness.

The dialogue is aimed at encouraging long-term, fundamental change in China. It has taken place in an increasingly open and frank atmosphere, and has been accompanied by increased co-operation with international human rights mechanisms, including ratification in February 2001 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and a programme of co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to determine the fate of the Panchen Lama; and what assessment he has made of the authenticity of the recent photo alleged to be of the Panchen Lama. [27530]

Mr. MacShane: We take every suitable opportunity to press the Chinese authorities to allow access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (the Dalai Lama's choice as Panchen Lama) by an independent and respected figure to assess his health and living conditions. It was last raised at the seventh round of the UK/China human rights dialogue held in London last November. The Chinese maintain that the parents of the boy do not want him exposed to international attention.

We have been unable to authenticate the photo released on the internet last October.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 206W, on China, what the purpose was of the proposed visit of the Chinese delegation to the BBC World Service; when this visit took place; and if he will make a statement. [27509]

Mr. MacShane: The visit to the BBC World Service by the Chinese delegation on 21 November 2001 took place in the margins of the seventh round of the biannual

16 Jan 2002 : Column 325W

UK/China human rights dialogue: one of the themes of this round of the dialogue was "the role of the media". The programme was organised by the BBC.

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