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Whether they will withdraw financial support for organisations which co-operate with the Chinese Government's State Family Planning Commission, in the light of the statement on 9 June by the Chinese minister for family planning that China will not relax its one-child policy. [HL585]
Baroness Amos: United Kingdom assistance for reproductive health programmes is provided in support of the principles of free and informed choice set out at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994 and re-affirmed in various international forums since. These principles reject coercion in matters relating to child bearing and reproduction.
DfID assistance, through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is helping to promote non-coercive approaches to family planning in line with the ICPD plan of action. In recent years there have been some positive changes to China's population policy in recognition and compliance with the ICPD principles on people's reproductive rights and choices. This was reflected in the new population law issued in 2002.
The UNFPA's work in the areas of reproductive health and family planning, and gender equity and ageing has helped local governments in China to pilot non-coercive approaches to family planning. In the UNFPA programme counties, birth targets and quotas have been abolished, and abortion and sterilisation rates, along with maternal mortality, have dropped significantly.
DfID is also supporting the State Council AIDS Working Committee Office to strengthen its strategic capacity. The State Family Planning Commission (SFPC) is a member of this committee, and this support will enable it better to play its role in raising HIV and AIDS awareness.
What account they took of genocide in Darfur when they supported the decision of the international community in April 2005, in Oslo, to pledge more than $4 billion in aid and debt relief to Sudan; and whether the meeting of the G8 Finance Ministers in London on 12 June considered the Government of Sudan's role in Darfur as a factor when including Sudan on the list of countries whose debts could be cancelled in the future. [HL563]
Baroness Amos: This year started with hope of a new beginning for the people of Sudan, with the signing in Nairobi of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
The CPA is a huge achievement and deserves international support to ensure that it is fully implemented. It is clearly the best hope for peace across the whole of Sudan, and we cannot risk this failing. Early and visible dividends are key to consolidating support behind the peace agreement. Donors at the Oslo meeting
23 Jun 2005 : Column WA197
discussed how they would work together to support the priority areas contained in the Sudan Joint Assessment Mission report, to help the people of Sudan realise their own futures, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time they made clear that the situation in Darfur had to be resolved; some (including ourselves) made some or all of their support conditional upon progress there.
The UK remains gravely concerned about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur. We have committed £90 million to the humanitarian response in Darfur/east Chad since September 2003, and £32 million to support the African Union's monitoring operation in Darfur. We sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1593, which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has now launched a formal investigation into these crimes. We are also playing a leading role in supporting the African Union's efforts to end the conflict in Darfur, in its mediation at the peace talks in Abuja.
We have made clear to the government in Sudan that the full benefits of a peace dividend, including work on debt relief, will not be achieved without peace in Darfur. The UK has stated that it is willing to chair a group of donors to look at the restructuring of Sudan's external debt. This is however conditional on significant progress by the Government of Sudan in resolving the Darfur conflict.
G8 countries have agreed to complete the process of debt relief for the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) by making available additional development resources for such relief. This relief will provide significant support for countries' efforts to reach the goals of the Millennium Declaration, while ensuring that the financing capacity of the international financial institutions is not reduced. For International Development Association and African Development Fund debt, 100 per cent stock cancellation will be delivered by relieving post-completion point HIPCs that are on track with their programmes of repayment obligations. Sudan is by definition, a heavily indebted poor country, and will be eligible for some HIPC debt relief when it reaches decision point within the initiative. Only when Sudan has reached completion point, has a proven track record of sound financial management and of using funds for poverty reduction, and has received full HIPC debt relief, will it receive multilateral debt cancellation under the G8 debt agreement. The UK will not take forward work in the international arena on Sudanese debt relief until progress on Darfur is made.
What assessment they have made of the 10,000 photographs taken by Mr Brian Steidle, serving with the African Union, of violations of human rights in Darfur and of the nine boxes of statements collected by Antonio Cassese while he led the United Nations Commission to Darfur in late 2004. [HL526]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): As we have always made clear, serious human rights abuses have taken place in Darfur, and those responsible must be brought to justice. We therefore sponsored Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005), which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31 March 2005. The ICC prosecutor took possession of the documents collected by the International Commission of Inquiry which had previously recommended this referral on 5 April.
Following preliminary examination of the commission's documents and other information available to him, the prosecutor, in accordance with his mandate, decided he has sufficient basis to initiate a formal investigation and announced that investigation on 6 June.
The court will carry out its investigations in Darfur, as elsewhere, in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, including the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor's discretion.
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