Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


US/Israeli Strategic Defence Agreement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the United States and Israel established a forum to discuss means of enhancing Israel's defence capabilities in the light of the threat in the region from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. We have been assured by the Government of the United States that there is no inconsistency between the Memorandum and United States' obligations under Article I of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Pakistan: Independent Power Project Dispute

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We remain deeply concerned about the dispute between the Government of Pakistan and the Independent Power Producers, including Hubco. This dispute endangers a major investment by National Power, and has seriously damaged investor confidence in Pakistan. We have raised this problem on many occasions at various levels. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Derek Fatchett, did

13 Apr 1999 : Column WA118

so with the Pakistani Minister of Finance during his visit to Pakistan in February, urging him to reach an early and amicable settlement with the Independent Power Producers. Progress towards settling the dispute is one of the conditions for continued emergency IMF/World Bank lending to Pakistan. Failure to make such progress would jeopardise further disbursements. We shall continue to monitor progress closely.

Pakistan: Religious Minorities

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise at the United Nations Human Rights Commission the problems of violence, harassment and discrimination against religious minorities, particularly Ahmadis, in Pakistan.[HL1811]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: At the Commission on Human Rights we joined EU partners in calling on the governments of India and Pakistan to protect the rights of religious minorities in their respective countries. We further called on the Government of Pakistan to prevent the misuse of that country's blasphemy laws and to introduce legislation which would abolish the death penalty for blasphemy.

Council of Europe Member States: Human Rights Conventions

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

    Which member states of the Council of Europe have not ratified the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).[HL1814]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to the data which appear on the United Nations Human Rights Website, the Council of Europe member states which have not ratified the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are as follows: Albania, Andorra, Moldova, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

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

    Which member states of the Council of Europe have not made the declaration pursuant to Article 14 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966) to recognise the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to receive and consider communications from individuals.[HL1815]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to the data which appear on the United Nations Human Rights Website, the following Council of Europe member states are party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, but have not made the declaration pursuant to Article 14 to recognise the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial

13 Apr 1999 : Column WA119

Discrimination to receive and consider communications from individuals:

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

In addition, the following Council of Europe member states are listed as not party to the Convention: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Moldova and San Marino.

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

    Which member states of the Council of Europe have not made the declaration pursuant to Article 21 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) to recognise the competence of the Committee against Torture to receive and consider communications from individuals.[HL1816]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: According to the data which appear on the United Nations Human Rights Website, the following Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but have not made the declaration pursuant to Article 22 to recognise the competence of the Committee against Torture to receive and consider communications from individuals:

Albania, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

In addition, the following Council of Europe member states have not ratified the Convention: Andorra, Belgium, Ireland, Moldova, San Marino and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Although they have not yet ratified, on signing the Convention both Belgium and Ireland made declarations stating that they do not accept the competence of the Committee as set out in Article 22.

Foreign Office Staff: Contacts with Private Military Companies

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When revised guidance will be issued to Foreign Office officials on contacts with private military companies.[HL1918]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I am pleased to inform my noble friend that revised guidance,

13 Apr 1999 : Column WA120

prepared in consultation with other government departments, was issued on 13 April. I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House. The Ministry of Defence is issuing parallel guidance.

Sierra Leone

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the Government's response to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government's response will be published today.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What equipment is being provided by the UK to the monitoring group of the economic community of West African States (ECOMOG), as part of the UK's £10 million package of assistance to Sierra Leone; and what assurances they have received about its use.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We continue to believe that lasting peace in Sierra Leone cannot be achieved by military means alone. But for a negotiated solution to be achieved, the people and Government of Sierra Leone must be secure.

On 30 March, my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Tony Lloyd, announced that £5 million of the UK's new £10 million package of assistance for Sierra Leone would be made available to provide further equipment for ECOMOG; and that deliveries of equipment would be arriving shortly (Official Report, col. 566). This is to supprot ECOMOG's efforts to protect the people and the democratically elected Government of Sierra Leone. As part of our package of assistance to ECOMOG, we are providing logistic support in the form of vehicles, boots and rations, as well as light weapons and ammunition.

We have secured assurances from ECOMOG that this equipment will be used only in accordance with internationally acceptable human rights standards and humanitarian law. We have made clear to ECOMOG that our supprot is conditional on ECOMOG and the Government of Sierra Leone respecting human rights.

In accordance with normal practice, we will notify the United Nations Sanctions Committee once we have precise details of the consignments. We have received assurances from ECOMOG and the Government of Sierra Leone that the equipment will remain in Sierra Leone when ECOMOG eventually depart.

13 Apr 1999 : Column WA119



   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page