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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The UK is specifically included in this 10-year £650 million programme; under it, the Japanese Government--in close consultation with ourselves--is helping to fund historical research as well as various exchange programmes aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the peoples of the UK and Japan. Participants in the exchange visits, initiated by private organisations, include former prisoners of war and their families. These research and exchange programmes are expected to continue in coming years.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We take a very serious view of all human rights violations in Iran. The most recent EU sponsored human rights resolution on Iran, adopted in April by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, reaffirmed our specific concern about cases of torture in Iran. We deplore unequivocally the use of torture in all its forms. Torture is never legitimate. We are making enquiries to establish whether Human Rights Watch have passed on a recording of their 22nd June interview with the BBC Persian Service to the UN Human Rights Centre.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: This assessment could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Reports of the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Summary, Arbitrary or Extra-judicial Executions, which contain governments' replies to allegations and requests to visit, are routinely made available in the Library of the House.
Stalkers can have a devastating effect on the lives of their victims, who are entitled to expect that the law will protect them. But this is a difficult area in which to legislate, as stalkers often behave in ways which do not overtly threaten their victims. But its sheer, oppressive persistence makes this activity so threatening.
The consultation paper proposes a new tort which will allow the victims of stalkers to seek an injunction against further harassment. It also proposes two new criminal offences which are intended to ensure that stalkers can be punished for activity which causes people to fear for their safety or which more generally causes harassment, alarm or distress.
It is important that any new measures against stalkers deal effectively with the problem whilst at the same time they do not prevent people from going about their lawful business. That is why it is important for the Government to consult on this subject.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The incentive is that failure to comply with the law may render any evidence obtained inadmissible in court and may result in criminal or disciplinary charges being brought against the officer responsible. If a breach of the law by a police officer is suspected, a complaint should be made to the chief police officer of the force concerned, who is required to investigate the complaint and refer the report of the investigation to the independent Police Complaints Authority.
Baroness Blatch: Cases where it may be appropriate to remove an asylum applicant to a safe third country are considered in accordance with the Immigration Rules. Under the rules, a safe third country is considered to be one in which the life or freedom of an asylum applicant would not be threatened (within the meaning of Article 33 of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees) and the government of which would not send the applicant elsewhere in a manner contrary to the principles of the convention. The states of the European Union have highly developed asylum procedures and there is a strong presumption that they meet these criteria. Cases are, however, considered on an individual basis.
Baroness Blatch: All applicants for asylum whose claims are refused and who have the right of appeal against that refusal are informed in writing of the services of the Refugee Legal Centre and the Immigration Advisory Service. They are not routinely advised of the services of these organisations at the time of their initial application.
In order that the report on any prisoner should be of benefit, it must be written by someone who knows the prisoner well. There is nothing to prevent that report being written by a visiting minister of the same faith as the prisoner. Sometimes, however, the chaplain would know the prisoner better than the visiting minister and the prisoner has confidence in the relationship with the chaplain. In those circumstances, it would be important for the report to be made by the more appropriate person. There are no plans to alter these arrangements.
Detailed guidance notes were issued in October 1994. The Nomination for Employment makes it clear that the nominating authority must agree that appointment. Details of the nominating authority will be found in the directory and guide on religious practices in the Prison Service.
The payment of fees and travelling expenses of sessional chaplains, substitute chaplains and visiting ministers is detailed in instruction to governors 106/1995. Paragraph 8 of that instruction makes it clear that special provision is made for an approved visiting minister travelling 45 miles or more to an establishment to receive proper reimbursement.
In view of the present guidance and instruction I do not believe further instructions are required. Copies of the Prison Service notices have been placed in the Library.
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