FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE UPDATE
TO FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORTS
FIRST REPORT: ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Government must take urgent steps to
close whatever loopholes remain in the existing legislation because
the continued export of such equipment [such as leg irons] from
the UK weakens its ability to lobby against torture and the use
of torture equipment. (Paragraph 20)
110. On 28 July FCO Minister Peter Hain
announced to the House (Hansard column 1081W) that the Government
had decided to introduce a control on individual "bracelet"
cuffs having an internal perimeter when fully locked in excess
of 165mm, and shackles (ie including handcuffs) made therewith.
The relevant amendment to the Export of Goods (Control) Order
has now been made.
116. We have continued to discuss with EU
partners and the European Commission export controls on items
that have been used for torture or other inhuman treatment. On
14 June the EU's Council of Ministers noted the European Commission's
intention to bring forward a proposal for an instrument to control
the export of certain non-military items from the EU for human
rights reasons. It is envisaged that this proposal will be based
on a working list of such items developed by the relevant EU Council
bodies. At the request of the UK, the list includes electro-shock
batons and restraints, leg-irons, gang-chains and shackles. We
are also seeking the inclusion of individual bracelet cuffs in
line with Mr Hain's announcement.
We recommend that the Government work both
bilaterally and with its European partners to ensure that the
human rights elements of the EU's Partnership and Co-operation
Agreements are fully respected. PCAs should have teeth and, when
appropriate, the teeth should bite. States which consistently
fail to meet their obligations should have their PCAs suspended.
112. The Government endorses the opinion
of the Committee that the EU should work to ensure that the human
rights provisions of Partnership and Co-operation Agreements (PCAs)
are implemented. The EU continues to take advantage of the PCA
structures to ensure that human rights issues are raised at the
113. The PCA with Russia created opportunities
for the EU to increase pressure on the Russian Government over
its policy in Chechnya through political dialogue at the highest
levels including at the EU/Russia Summit and the Co-operation
Councils. The EU also demonstrated its concern by restricting
new work in Russia under TACISits technical assistance
programme for the Former Soviet Union.
114. Human Rights and democracy are key
elements in the EU's relations with all its PCA partners. Concerns
about human rights and democracy were raised at the Co-operation
Councils and Committees with Uzbekistan in February 2000, Kazakhstan
and Kyrgyzstan in July 2000 and with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
in October. The EU used these opportunities to raise specific
concerns and made it clear that progress on strengthening democracy,
freedom of speech and other fundamental rights underpin the further
development of relations.
We believe the Government should give the
Bill [which would allow the United Kingdom to ratify the statute
which will lead to the establishment of the International Criminal
Court] greater priority. Given the FCO's evident eagerness to
ratify the statute, we urge the business managers to let Mr Hain
off his leash, to ensure that scrutiny of the draft Bill is concluded
as soon as possible, to seek agreement with Opposition parties
and to make time available for the passage through both Houses
of this important Bill in this Session. (Paragraph 29)
115. The Government published the draft
International Criminal Court Bill on 25 August for consultation.
We have invited comments from, inter alia, the Foreign
Affairs Committee, other interested Select Committees and Parliamentarians,
NGOs, professional organisations and academics. The consultation
period ends on 12 October after which the Government will introduce
the Bill as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows.
We expect this Green Paper [on mercenary
activity] to be published by November 2000 in accordance with
the time frame previously announced by the Government in its Reponse
to our Report on Sierra Leone. (Paragraph 30)
116. Officials of relevant Government Departments
are continuing to work on the preparation of a Green Paper on
mercenary activity, in order to fulfil the Government's undertaking
to publish such a paper by November 2000.