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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The British Government have received representations from various British organisations, including the Bar Human Rights Committee, asking that the human rights of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay be respected by the US authorities.
The Attorney-General has recently held a number of rounds of talks with the US Administration. His objective has been to ensure that the British nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay, if prosecuted, are assured of fair trials that meet generally recognised principles.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Mr Begg is considered to be an enemy combatant by the US, the detaining power. Whatever Mr Begg's status, he is entitled to humane treatment, and if prosecuted, a fair trial. We have made this clear to the US Administration.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The question of the legal status of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay under international law has to be considered in the light of the facts relating to each individual detainee.
The Attorney-General has recently held a number of rounds of talks with the US Administration. His objective has been to ensure that the British nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay, if prosecuted, are assured of fair trials that meet generally recognised principles. Further talks are planned for the near future. The possible repatriation of the detainees is also a matter under discussion.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have been made aware of five cases where UK residents, with either refugee status or indefinite leave to remain, are detained in Guantanamo Bay. We have had contact with lawyers and MPs about these cases. The British Government are not in a position to provide consular or diplomatic assistance to non-British nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: HMG are aware of a number of unsolved disappearances in Belarus including those of the former Interior Minister, General Yuri Zakharenko, the former First Deputy Speaker of the dissolved 13th Supreme Soviet, Viktor Gonchar, his business associate, Anatoly Krasovsky, and a cameraman for the Russian Public Television channel ORT, Dmitry Zavadsky. We and our EU partners have raised these cases with the Belarusian authorities. Our concerns have centered on the failure of the authorities to make any substantive progress in investigating the fate and the whereabouts of those missing; to conduct such investigations in a thorough, impartial and transparent fashion; and to account satisfactorily for the alleged involvement of senior state officials in these disappearances.
In September 2002 the Council of Europe created a sub-committee to clarify the circumstances of each case. The EU and US sponsored a resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights this year, which called for a full and impartial investigation into the disappearances. Our embassy will continue, in concert with EU representatives and the OSCE office in Minsk, to monitor developments on this and other issues of human rights concern. The Government of Belarus will have to demonstrate progress towards the standards expected of an OSCE member state before relations with the EU can be improved.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Following consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry recently approved a licence to export military list goods to Iraq. The arms embargo against Iraq remains in place under United Nations Security Council resolution 1483 (2003), with the exception of "arms and other related material required by the (Coalition Provisional) Authority to serve the purposes of this and other related resolutions". Accordingly Her Majesty's Government consider it appropriate to grant exemptions for these goods to be exported on the basis that they are to be used by a private security firm in the protection of the British Office in Baghdad. The work of the British Office in Baghdad forms part of the authority's functions under resolution 1483 (2003). The export is consistent with the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. Future applications will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the UN Embargo and Consolidated Criteria, taking into account the circumstances prevailing at the time.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As of 18 September, the United Kingdom has implemented mandatory UN sanctions, imposed by the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, in relation to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia. UN sanctions in relation to Angola (UNITA) and Libya were lifted on 9 December 2002 and 12 September 2003 respectively. The full trade embargo and all-encompassing asset freeze in relation to Iraq have been lifted. But an arms embargo remains and UNSCR 1483(2003) placed a ban on trade in stolen cultural property and requests member states to freeze and transfer certain Iraqi assets to the Development Fund for Iraq. The United Kingdom implements, in addition, sanctions imposed by the European Union in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burma, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (former President Milosevic and the persons associated with him continue to represent a threat to the consolidation of democracy in the area of the former Republic of Yugoslavia), Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe. In accordance with a decision of the OSCE, the United Kingdom implements arms embargoes on Armenia and Azerbaijan. The UK has imposed a unilateral arms embargo adopted by national legislation on Iran and a ban in relation to the sale of certain equipment to the armed forces of either side on the island of Cyprus. A list of sanctions regimes implemented by the UK is in the Library of the House. Annexed to this is a summary of additional UK restrictions on the export
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Last week we remembered the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, two years ago. In a few weeks, we shall be marking the first anniversary of the Bali bombings. The Government responded to these tragic events with practical support for the families of the victims beyond the consular assistance we would normally provide following the death or injury of British nationals abroad. We did so because of the exceptional nature of terrorism, in which individuals are random victims of attacks directed at society as a whole. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary announced on 18 September a package of measures designed to support the families of victims of future terrorist attacks abroad, which is based closely on what was provided for the families of victims of September 11 and Bali.
None of these measures can ever take away the pain and suffering which families will experience in these most horrendous of circumstances, but we sincerely hope they will at least remove some of the practical and administrative burdens from them, when trying to cope with the trauma of the incident.
The question of what constitutes an act of terrorism remains a difficult one. In the case of September 11, Bali and the compound bombings in Riyadh in May of this year, we were all in no doubt that we were dealing with acts of terrorism. Where there is doubt as to whether a violent death abroad is the result of an act of terrorism, we will consider the circumstances carefully and sympathetically. In essence, this package of measures is designed to assist the families of members of the travelling and expatriate British public, who are inadvertently caught up in a terrorist incident; and where they are not covered by ordinary insurance policies.
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