|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
15. Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on recent developments in relations between the UK Government and the Palestinian Authority. 
The Palestinian Government must commit to the Quartets principles of non-violence, recognising Israel, and accepting previous agreements and obligations. Hamas must start implementing these principles.
Following the Hamas led PAs failure to commit to these principles, the UK and other key donors suspended direct budgetary assistance to the PA. We continue to support the Palestinian people, and on 17 June endorsed a Temporary International Mechanism to provide direct assistance.
16. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Governments policy is on Israels unilateral policy on a settlement with the Palestinians; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Since opening accession negotiations on 3 October, the Commission has been assessing Turkeys existing legislation against the 35 chapters of the EU acquis and has now published its reports on five. We were pleased that on 12 June the EU and Turkey opened and provisionally closed negotiations on the first chapter, Science and Research. As both the EU and Turkey recognise, much remains to be done before accession.
Mr. Hoon: There is no consensus among member states on how to proceed with the constitutional treaty. The European Council agreed a twin track approach based on delivering concrete results under the current treaties and further consultations between member states. Decisions on how to continue the reform process will be taken by the end of 2008 with no presumption on the processs outcome or end date.
19. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with other EU member states on the role of the European Court of Justice. 
Mr. McCartney: The Human Rights situation in Afghanistan is improving, but we remain conscious that more remains to be done. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently funding seven projects aimed at increasing womens rights and legal awareness and has provided $1 million towards the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission this year.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of progress in advancing (a) good governance, justice and the rule of law and (b) reconstruction and development in Afghanistan since the signing of the Afghanistan Compact; and if she will make a statement. 
In March 2006, in line with the public administrative recommendations in the Afghanistan Compact, President Karzai has rationalised Government Ministries, of which two were abolished, and reshuffled his Cabinet. Newly appointed Cabinet Ministers appeared before Parliament to receive approval. This process, and the parliamentary vote, was broadcast live on television. In addition, the National Assembly has approved the financial year 2006-07 Budget and raised objections to some of the President's nominations for the Supreme Court. These are clear signs that the democratic mechanisms necessary to support governance and the rule of law are becoming more established in Afghanistan.
Law enforcement capability and judicial reform capacity building have continued apace. The German-led Police Reform programme, assisted by the US, is continuing to develop the Afghan National Police (ANP) into a professional, credible and effective civil force. In June 2006, President Karzai acted upon the final recommendations of the Police Reform Commission in the second round of the police reform process, appointing 86 senior officials and streamlining the ANP's senior command. Counter-narcotics police interdiction operations continue with increased resources and personnel. The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Special Narcotics Force continue to cause disruption to the narcotics trade at a regional level. Working Groups, co-chaired by the Ministry of Justice and international donors, are making progress on law reform, institutional capacity and physical infrastructure, legal education and professional training, legal aid and access to justice, land reform, prisons and juvenile justice. Work continues on criminal and civil procedures, a new penal code, and family, company and anti-terrorism laws.
Technical support to justice institutions has been revitalised with the UN Development Programme's Strengthening the Justice System of Afghanistan commencing in February 2006.
Since the launch of the Afghanistan Compact in January 2006, work has continued on long-term reconstruction and development projects throughout Afghanistan. For example, sanitation and waste management programmes in Kabul and provincial cities are in progress. The Afghan Government's National Solidarity programme, supporting small-scale reconstruction and development activities, has now reached over 8.5 million Afghans with more than 4,500 projects completed (88 per cent. of these community projects involve infrastructure such as irrigation, rural roads, electrification and drinking water supply). The Afghanistan Compact sets out clear benchmarks on development issues against which the Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board will measure progress.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance her Department has given to the Afghan Government for (a) legislative reform of the public and private sector, (b) building the capacity of judicial institutions and personnel, (c) promoting human rights and legal awareness and (d) rehabilitating judicial infrastructure; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Together with the World Bank, consultants funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) have worked closely with the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission drafting a new civil service law, which was adopted in late 2005. DFID funded consultants have worked closely with the Ministry of Commerce, and US colleagues on the development of a range of legislation aimed at promoting development of the private sector.
Working with Italy, the partner nation for Reform of the Justice Sector in Afghanistan, and other international partners, the UK is helping Afghanistan establish a functional, accessible, equitable and sustainable justice system. In 2004, DFID made a contribution of £0.5 million to the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) project Rebuilding the Justice Sector in Afghanistan; £0.2 million of this has been rolled over to finance the new UNDP Strengthening Justice Sector in Afghanistan Project. Funds from the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)/DFID/Ministry of Defence Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) have provided a further £0.5 million to this project, which includes promotion of human rights, strengthening justice sector institutions, rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure and training and capacity building of justice sector personnel. The GCPP also recently provided $1 million to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission towards their overall core costs for financial year 2006-07.
The FCO's Global Opportunities Fund (GOF) continues to support the promotion of human rights in Afghanistan. Over the past three financial years GOF has provided £240,000 to the Bar Human Rights Committee to deliver human rights legal training; contributed £150,000 to the Women Empowerment
Project, implemented by Womankind, focused on promoting women's equal participation in national/provincial government and building gender equality in Afghanistan; and committed £339,000 to the Action Aid projects, Afghan Women Affecting Change and Women's Participation in Governance, aimed at supporting domestic women's rights organisations and women's involvement in local government respectively.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the adequacy of resources in place to achieve a sustained and significant reduction in the production and trafficking of narcotics in Helmand province; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what assistance her Department has given to the Afghan Government to implement programmes to achieve a sustained annual reduction in the amount of land under poppy and other drug cultivation. 
Margaret Beckett: The UK is spending £270 million over three years in support of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategyincluding, from 2006, some £25-30 million per annum in Helmand province. Of the total £270 million, approximately 50 per cent. will be channelled into efforts to strengthen and diversify legal rural livelihoods, and much of the remainder devoted to building capacity within the Afghan counter narcotics law enforcement and criminal justice agencies responsible for bringing traffickers to justice. However, UK resources will not, on their own, be sufficient to bring about a sustained reduction in the amount of land under poppy cultivation. As a partner nation for counter narcotics, the UK is therefore working hard to ensure that international assistance is targeted in line with the priorities set out in the National Drug Control Strategy. We have supported the establishment of a Counter Narcotics Trust Fund, to which a number of partners including the US and the EC are now contributing, for this purpose.
Progress is being made: last year saw the conviction of over 150 drug traffickers, and a 21 per cent. reduction in the cultivation of opium poppy. However, sustainable drug elimination strategies take time, particularly when the challenges are as severe as they are in Afghanistan. After last year's decline, this year's cultivation figures are unlikely to decrease further as consolidated progress in areas where governance, security and access to livelihoods have improved is still being outpaced by increased planting in the more lawless south, including Helmand province. Our deployment to Helmand is part of the broader international support for the reconstruction effort, which is vital to the success of the Government of Afghanistan's counter narcotics campaign and to the sustained reduction in the cultivation, production and trafficking of opium poppy.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her assessment is of links between the Taliban and drug smugglers in Helmand province in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. 
The Taliban and drug traffickers flourish in the same ungoverned space and they have a confluence of interest in ensuring that central
Government is unable to extend its authority to their areas of operation. There is growing evidence of links. At the tactical level, there are some ad hoc links between the Taliban and traffickers where their specific interests coincide. Recently, there has been evidence that the Taliban are encouraging Afghan farmers to grow opium poppy and in the south, including Helmand, the Taliban have encouraged farmers to resist Government eradication efforts. It is unclear how much the Taliban use drug money to facilitate their operations. There are some signs of contacts at the strategic level. We continue to assess the links closely, particularly as the UK presence in the south consolidates. We support Afghan efforts to disrupt any linkages.
Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that the Afghan National Police Force is paid (a) adequately and (b) on time. 
Dr. Howells: One of the key components in the reform of the Afghan National Police is a pay and rank review, which is currently under way. When this is completed it will ensure that the police are paid adequately and on time.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international research she has examined on the conversion of Afghan poppy production into bio-fuels; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: There has been no examination of international research into the conversion of Afghan poppy production into bio-fuels by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. However, in 2001, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office commissioned an independent study into licit cultivation of opium poppy for pharmaceutical use in India and Turkey. The report concluded that diversion from licit cultivation can only be successful if national authorities have the resources and capacity to put control mechanisms in place to ensure they are the sole purchaser of opiates.
The poor security situation in the country means there can simply be no guarantee that opium will not be smuggled out of the country for the illicit narcotics trade abroad. Without an effective control mechanism, a lot of opium will still be refined into heroin for illicit markets in the West and elsewhere. We could not accept this.
The UN Security Council and the African Union are agreed that a UN force should replace the AU troops currently in Darfur. A joint AU/UN planning mission has just returned from Darfur. The UN Secretary-General will report shortly
to the Security Council. The Government of Sudan have, however, not yet agreed to a UN force. We will continue to press them to do so.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made to her counterparts in (a) Khartoum and (b) N'Djamena regarding the recent violence on the Chad-Sudan border; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: We are aware that Chadian rebels and Darfur militia continue to mount cross-border attacks into Eastern Chad from Darfur, which has led to the displacement of 50,000 Chadians. We are also aware of reports of Darfur rebels continuing to be supported by Chad. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to neutralise and disarm the Janjaweed and expel foreign fighters from Darfur as soon as possible, as required under the Darfur Peace Agreement. We are also urging both Governments to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised this most recently with the Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister. Our non-resident ambassador to Chad raised this with their Foreign Minister during his last visit to N'Djamena.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Algeria on the use of torture. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 26 June 2006]: We discuss human rights issues with the Government of Algeria regularly. I did so during my visit to Algiers on 7-8 June. We have not entered into, and are not negotiating, a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of torture.
The Government unreservedly condemn the use of torture as a matter of fundamental principle and works hard with its international partners to eradicate this abhorrent practice. The UK abides by its commitments under international law, including the UN convention against torture and the European convention on human rights, and it expects all other countries to comply with their international obligations. We are active in pressing them to deliver on their human rights commitments.
As far as the deportation of individuals who present a threat to our national security is concerned, we act consistently with our human rights obligations, taking into account the provisions of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, its accompanying policy on clemency and the particular circumstances of each case.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|