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1 May 1995 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Monday, 1st May 1995.

Mexico: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the action of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in response to the section of the report of the United Nations Rapporteur, Dr. Radley, dealing with Mexico, in which he expressed disappointment at the "limited results of the. . . Human Rights Commission", with particular reference to the case of Mr. Manuel Manriquez San Augustia; and whether they will place in the Library copies of any explanations given by the Mexican authorities for the reasons why Mr. San Augustia's conviction was not overturned, notwithstanding the agreement by the authorities that his confession had been extracted under torture.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution on 3 March calling on all governments to co-operate with the Special Rapporteur on Torture and extending his mandate for a further three years. The resolution also called for severe punishment for all those held responsible for acts of torture.

Our Embassy in Mexico City remains in regular contact with the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights, which continues to press the office of the Attorney General of the Federal District of Mexico City to make progress in Sr. Manriquez' case. The Commission recommended that the Judicial Federal Police investigate the allegations that Sr. Manriquez was tortured while in police custody.

European Parliament: Speech to Taiwan Delegation

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have requested that an investigation be undertaken into the circumstances in which a speech of welcome to the Taiwan delegation to the European Parliament on 13th February 1995 delivered by the former Danish Prime Minister, Poul Schlulter was deleted from the official record of the European Parliament for that day.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: No investigation is necessary. It is a matter for the European Parliament (EP) who they invite to observe their plenary meetings and on what terms. We understand it is the EP's custom only to give official welcomes from the chair to delegations invited on behalf of the EP as a whole. The delegation in question was invited unofficially by a number of individual MEPs.

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European Commission: Representation on Outside Bodies

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a list of the various bodies and organisations (including committees, sub-committees, working groups, delegations, missions, councils and institutions) upon which representatives of the European Commission have a specific right to sit, distinguishing those where they have the right to the chairmanship.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We do not hold this information centrally. Such a list could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.

European Commission Unified External Service

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under what specific authority the European Commission set up the Unified External Service; what is the total number of persons comprising the service; what are their functions and terms of reference; and what is the total annual cost of the service in both ecus and pounds sterling, supported by reference to specific budget heads and sub-heads in the Commission's 1994 and 1995 budgets.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The European Commission has always maintained a network of offices in countries outside the European Community, to distribute aid under Community programmes, to monitor barriers to trade, to give economic and technical assistance, and to disseminate information. The Commission has started to reorganise the management structure of these offices to improve efficiency, and last year renamed it the "Unified External Service". The service comprises some 2,400 staff; 600 of these are Brussels-based Commission officials, subject to the normal Community staff regulations; the remainder are locally-engaged staff. The 1994 budget for the Commission's external representations was 180.472 mecu or £139.64 million; the 1995 budget is 193.444 mecu or £160.48 million. This budget comes under the administrative section of the EC budget (budget Chapter A60, page 484 of Volume 37 of the Official Journal of 31 December 1994).

Kurdish Parliament in Exile

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they receive notices of the proceedings of the Kurdish Parliament in exile from Turkey, and whether they support its search for non-violent and political solutions to the existing armed conflict.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We do not receive notices of the proceedings of the so called "Kurdish Parliament in exile", which we do not recognise. We have repeatedly made clear to the Turkish Government our

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view that the conflict in the south east of the country calls for a political rather than a military solution.

Council of Ministers: Points for Discussion

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many proposals submitted in 1994 by the European Commission for the attention of the Council of Ministers were, after consideration by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), sent for incorporation in the Council's agenda under List "A" as not requiring discussion in the Council itself and, of that number, how many were in fact discussed at the specific request of a member state.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The information is not readily available and could only be compiled at disproportionate cost. Any "A" point which a member of the Council of Ministers wishes to question is automatically remitted for further discussion.

Landmines

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will bring up to date the information given in the reply by Viscount Cranborne on 14 February 1994 (H.L. Deb., cols. 86–9) on the subject of landmines, and in particular: (1) whether the United Kingdom has now ratified the 1981 United Nations Weaponry Convention; (2) whether a review conference is still expected to occur in 1995; (3) what (a) grants and (b) secondment of personnel have been provided for the clearance of landmines in the past year and; (4) whether they consider that world-wide incidence of landmines is now increasing or decreasing; in the former case, what steps they consider can be taken to reverse this trend; in the latter, what targets they consider can be set to ensure the continuation of the trend.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: (1) We ratified the 1981 United Nations Weaponry Convention on 13 February; (2) The Review Conference will take place in Vienna from 25 September to 13 October 1995. The UK will participate as a full State Party; (3) In the financial year 1994–95, the UK gave £5,675,000 bilaterally to mine clearance operations and nearly £2,000,000 through the EC. Our bilateral contributions included a £500,000 donation to the UN's recently-established Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Clearance. The UK has no personnel seconded to humanitarian mine clearance operations. (4) It is impossible at present to assess whether the use of landmines is more or less prevalent than

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previously. We believe that the problem of landmines is best tackled by a range of measures, including strengthening the 1981 United Nations Weaponry Convention; restrictions on the export of anti-personnel landmines, such as the United Kingdom's indefinite moratorium; and further international controls on the manufacture, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. We are actively pursuing all these approaches.

Chechnya: Mediation Offer

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Russian Government to accept the offer made by President Ruslan Ausaev of Ingushetia to mediate in Chechnya.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to press the Russians to reach a negotiated settlement in Chechnya using all channels available to them. One of the chief objectives of the OSCE mission, which arrived in Grozny on 25 April, will be to pursue dialogue and negotiations with a view to reaching a lasting political settlement.

Chechnya: OSCE Mission

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that all preliminary steps have been taken to allow the OSCE mission to Chechnya to start work by the end of April.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The OSCE mission arrived in Grozny on 25 April and is now operational.

Holocaust Museum

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in establishing a national Holocaust Museum in Great Britain, similar to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): I understand that the Imperial War Museum is considering creating a new museum which would cover the Holocaust and other 20th century acts of genocide.


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