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Treaties in Force

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Chesham: It is estimated that it will take at least four years to complete the computerisation of all treaty records.

Former Yugoslavia: US Military Activities and OSCE

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Chesham: OSCE principles and fora call for a regular information exchange between participating states on military activities exceeding agreed thresholds. The United States has actively participated in this process and only this month has invited OSCE states to observe activities relating to her participation in the Bosnia peace implementation force.

Former Yugoslavia: Withdrawal of US Troops

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Chesham: All 20,000 United States troops in the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) are expected to be withdrawn this year. The mandate of the UN Preventative Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in Macedonia, which includes 565 American troops, expires on 30 May 1996.

Former Yugoslavia: US Troops outside IFOR

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Chesham: We are not aware of any United States troops in the former Yugoslavia that are not either under the command of NATO (in the Implementation Force (IFOR) or the United Nations (in the UN Preventative Deployment Force in Macedonia [UNPREDEP]). When deployment is complete, there will be some 20,000 United States troops in IFOR. There are 565 United States troops in UNPREDEP.

NATO: US Policy

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their understanding that the widespread United States military presence in former Yugoslavia, in the states adjacent to the former Yugoslavia and in Central and Eastern Europe, is intended to replace the previous United States plans to expand NATO.

Lord Chesham: No.

Russian Federation: Council of Europe Membership

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take steps to ensure that the Russian Federation is admitted as a member of the Council of Europe only when it is objectively established that the legal order of the federation conforms fully with Council of Europe standards in each of the areas examined and evaluated in the report of the group of legal experts to the Parliamentary Assembly of 28th September 1994.

Lord Chesham: No. But we accept that it is a fine judgment to make. On balance, we think that the arguments for Russian membership now outweigh the disadvantages. We will therefore respect the Parliamentary Assembly's recommendation, by 164 votes to 35, to admit the Russian Federation as the 39th member of the Council of Europe.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept the findings of the report by legal experts to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 28th September 1994 (Rudolf Bernhardt, Stefan Trechsel, Albert Weitzel and Felix Ermacora: doc AS/Bur/Russia 1994 (7)) on the conformity of the legal order of the Russian Federation with Council of Europe standards.

Lord Chesham: We saw no reason to dispute the findings of this report when it was made. Since then further Council of Europe fact-finding missions have visited Russia and investigated the legal and human rights situation. Their reports indicate that, while there are still shortcomings in the Russian Federation's conformity with Council of Europe standards, progress has been made towards respect for the rule of law; the

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Russian Government has also made specific undertakings to that end and we shall encourage it to adhere to them.

South Lebanon: Protests against Use of Banned Weapons

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Written Answers of 6 February 1995 (WA 2) and 22 January 1996 (WA 52), what advice they have sought or received as to whether the use of shells containing 3-inch steel darts (or flechettes) contravenes international humanitarian law; and why they have not supported the protests made by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) against such use by the Israeli Army in Lebanon, killing and injuring UN soldiers and civilians.

Lord Chesham: Whether the use of flechette rounds contravenes international humanitarian law depends on the circumstances of each case. We deplore the use of such weapons where they are excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects, in particular where they cause casualties among the civilian population or a neutral force such as UNIFIL. We support UN Security Council statements condemning all acts of violence in South Lebanon.

UN Special Representative of Internally Displaced People

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the budget of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced People, Dr. Francis Deng; whether they are satisfied that he has resources commensurate with the size of the problems, and whether they will ask the Secretary General to make an assessment of the numbers and humanitarian needs of the main internally-displaced populations world-wide.

Lord Chesham: The office of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Internally Displaced People is funded from the UN regular budget allocation for all mandates approved by the UN's Economic and Social Committee. In the 1994-95 biennium the total allocation of funds was $4,291,900, of which the office of the UN Special Representative on Internally Displaced People received $173,950. In addition to this the office received $59,259 in voluntary contributions.

Humanitarian relief is supplied to internally displaced persons by a number of agencies. At the request of the UN Secretary-General, UNHCR has often taken the lead in such situations, most notably in the former Yugoslavia. We continue to support the UN Secretary General's special representative and the UN Inter Agency Task Force under the chairmanship of the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, who are

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considering ways to ensure that the needs of the internally displaced are met.

We understand that the UN Secretary General's special representative will produce a report on internally displaced people in time for the Human Rights Commission beginning in mid-March. He has also called for NGOs to carry out more detailed surveys in this respect.

Bahrain

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the number of persons detained in Bahrain.

Lord Chesham: We receive information on detainees in Bahrain from a number of sources. Figures of those detained are regularly subject to change in the light of releases and arrests.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the invitation to Amnesty International, which the Bahraini authorities told Britain they were issuing a year ago, has yet arrived.

Lord Chesham: The arrangements for a visit by Amnesty International to Bahrain are a matter for Amnesty and the Bahraini authorities to pursue.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the threatened imposition of martial law by the authorities in Bahrain and what precautions they will take to ensure that weapons supplied by the United Kingdom are not used for the purpose of oppression, or for the violation or suppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Lord Chesham: We understand that the Bahraini authorities have no current intention to impose martial law in Bahrain. We are committed to a responsible policy of defence equipment sales. Applications for the export of defence equipment are considered on a case by case basis in the light of established criteria including the international guidelines to which we are committed. We take into account the human rights record of recipient states and do not export equipment which is likely to be used for internal repression.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are continuing to encourage dialogue between the Bahrain Government and leaders of the Bahrain opposition; and what information they have about meetings the Bahrain Government has held with the principal leaders of the opposition to discuss the opposition's demands for the restoration of the 1972 constitution.

Lord Chesham: We continue to encourage reconciliation through peaceful dialogue between the Bahraini authorities and members of disaffected groups.

Any meetings between the authorities and opposition groups are a matter for the parties concerned.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they had about the agreement reached in August 1995 between the Bahrain authorities and the five principal leaders of the opposition who were then in detention that they would enter into substantive discussions on the matters raised in a petition which has been signed by 25,000 Bahraini citizens.

Lord Chesham: Any agreements allegedly reached are a matter for the parties concerned.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, at the meeting between Mr. Jeremy Hanley, MP, Minister of State at the Foreign and

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    Commonwealth Office, and the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, the Foreign Minister raised any questions about Bahraini exiles living in Britian, and if so, whether he repeated the demands he made to the former Foreign Secretary that Britain should not grant asylum to three named individuals.

Lord Chesham: Discussion at the meeting covered several areas of mutual interest, including Bahraini exiles in the UK. Details of the discussion are confidential to the parties concerned and it would not be proper to disclose them. Bahrain is well aware of our international obligations concerning those who seek asylum here.



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