Examination of Witnesses (Questions 50
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
MP, DR CAROLYN
60. Do you think they continue to be doggedly
determined not to ratify it, not to be involved, because they
feel, one of the reasons given to us, that they do not want their
generals to be hauled up in front of an International Criminal
(Mr Hain) Naturally we do not accept that argument.
61. No, we do not.
(Mr Hain) We have been into the undergrowth of that
argument ourselves and are quite satisfied that that concern is
not well founded. I hope that there will be fresh thinking both
on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. I would have thought
that one of the lessons of 11 September and the threat that the
world faces from groups like al-Qaeda, is that you need an International
Criminal Court and when you look at the Milosovic experience and
look at others, look at Foday Sankoh, for example, the rebel leader
in Sierra Leone responsible for brutalising the people of Sierra
Leone, people like that ought to be brought before the International
62. It would not be retrospective.
(Mr Hain) No, I understand that. It is not retrospective,
but I said people like that ought to be brought before the International
Criminal Court. I would have thought that opinion in the US ought
to see the sense and logic in that.
63. What we learned when we were in America
was that our Prime Minister is very, very close to President Bush
and has quite a lot of influence over some aspects of American
foreign policy and I would hope that the Prime Minister would
continue to press the President on this particular issue. Many
of us agree that it is a very, very important move and that we
should see this criminal court set up as soon as possible.
(Mr Hain) It is certainly something we are not going
to let go of. It is something we want to see and when the most
powerful country in the world is not subscribing to an international
treaty like that obviously it seriously weakens it.
64. A separate issue, that of forced marriages.
Anybody who has dealt with the victims of forced marriages will
know what a traumatic crime it is. I welcome the fact that the
Government treats it seriously. I am pleased that the report says
we are going to have to work with community groups, with women's
groups and that they are going to have to take the lead. That
is absolutely right. One of the things I find, and I suspect other
members will have had similar experiences, is that when we are
dealing with our posts abroad they are very helpful and the embassy
staff are very helpful. The people who tend not to be very helpful
are the police forces in some countries. I am trying to think
of a diplomatic way of putting this. Perhaps the stamping out
of forced marriages is not the top priority of the Pakistani police.
What can we do to work with police forces in other countries,
liaison between our Government and police forces, liaison between
British police forces and police forces in other countries to
work to eradicate this appalling crime?
(Mr Hain) It may be more than we can do. The Foreign
Office have compiled best practice guidelines for police forces
in Britain to help tackle the problem and liaised with NGOs both
here and abroad to try to provide a complete range of support
for victims. Over 200 victims of forced marriages were helped
by the Foreign Office's Community Liaison Unit. Clearly the attitude
and practice and priority given by police forces in countries
in which this odious practice operates need to be radically improved.
May I also say that we have this Community Liaison Unit which
has four full-time staff attached to our consular division, including
an escapee of a forced marriage in Pakistan Narina Anwar who works
part time advising the unit. We are giving this considerable attention
and I am glad you raised it.
Mr Pope: I just want to say that quite often
we tend to appear critical at these meetings, but I think that
is a really good initiative and I am really pleased to hear that.
65. All of us agree that the Government has
a very good record on this. We have read of the tragic case in
Sweden recently. Is there much attempt at co-ordination of EU
policies in terms of countries in which forced marriages are an
(Mr Hain) This is broadly on the EU agenda. I am afraid
I cannot point to any specific instances, but it is something
I will certainly follow up and perhaps notify you of.
66. I slide then easily into the Partnership
and Co-operation Agreements. There have been discussions between
our Committee and the Foreign Office in respect of these agreements,
particularly latterly over whether the human rights provisions
in the PCA had any relevance or whether the Foreign Office and
our EU partners took them seriously at all as a means of bringing
leverage on countries, particularly of the former Soviet Union.
What do you say about that? Has there been any serious threat
to suspend such an agreement by the EU if the partner country
has manifestly not honoured its human rights commitment?
(Mr Hain) I am not aware of suspensions.
67. Suspension of the PCA agreement on the basis
that the partner country has not fulfilled its part of the bargain
in respect of human rights.
(Mr Hain) No, I am not aware of an imminent suspension
but it is always possible, given that the European Union is strongly
committed to human rights and it is an important part of those
partnership agreements. It is something which is constantly monitored
and something on which we work constantly with the countries with
whom the partnership agreements are established.
68. It may be deemed important, but how would
you respond for example to Amnesty International who said that
leverage is a fine thing but "this would be persuasive if
political dialogue does include significant and concrete discussions
on human rights". How would you seek to convince Amnesty
that there is serious discussion on human rights within the context
of these partnership and co-operation agreements?
(Mr Hain) In all these agreements, we are committed
as the European Union and as a member of it to greater coherence
and consistency in all the internal and external policies of the
European Union. It is not something which is number 25 on the
agenda and sometimes falls off the bottom: it is integral to the
partnership agreements. It is at the foundation of the European
Union. Article 6 of the Amsterdam Treaty re-affirmed that the
EU is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy and respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
These are issues which are pressed to more or less effect, with
more or less success with all of the countries involved.
69. We return to 11 September and certain countries
of central Asia, like Uzbekistan, which provides base facilities
for the US Air Force, Tajikistan a base in respect of Afghanistan,
who have clearly assumed a new importance. Are we continuing to
pursue human rights concerns in our dialogue with those two important
countries or have human rights considerations fallen off the agenda?
(Mr Hain) No, they have not and indeed following lobbying
by both Britain and the European Union, a Turkmen religious prisoner
Atakof was released at the end of last year. Despite the fact
that the post-September 11 crisis was unfolding with Turkmenistan
part of the theatre, that is something we achieved. We continue
regularly to raise specific human rights concerns with all the
governments concerned of central Asia, including prisoner cases,
restricted media and religious restriction laws and pressing for
better governance and political reform. It is another example
where when we are pursuing security, human rights is a foundation
for that security in any stable or long-term perspective.
70. I should like finally to ask a question
on the green paper on mercenaries. You recall that the Government
did agree to publish this in November 2000. Then there was a long
series of slippages. Now we are pleased to understand that the
green paper is actually with the printers and any delay presumably
is now with the printer. Can you indicate to the Committee why
there was such a slippage after the initial pledge in November
2000? What have been the complications which have prevented the
Government publishing this?
(Mr Hain) First of all may I say that the Foreign
Secretary will inform the House very shortly of the exact date
of publication. I welcome that and I am sure that the Committee
will welcome it as well. In respect of why it has taken so long,
the issues are very complex and we wanted to produce an objective
and balanced paper.
71. You knew they were complex when you made
(Mr Hain) I do not think we knew how complex, to be
perfectly frank. When we took account of the policies in other
countries, the history of international concern about mercenaries,
the current debate on the role of private military companies and
the legal issues involved, it is quite difficult terrain. Nevertheless
I think the Committee will welcome the imminent publication of
the Green Paper and I hope that we will hear your views on it.
No doubt a Minister will appear before you at some point to be
harangued about its contents.
72. We can give you a pledge on that, Minister.
May I say that the difficulty for any Minister in this area is
that you are expected to be an expert on every corner of the foreign
field and we thank you very much indeed for coming along and answering
a range of questions, sometimes outside your immediate brief.
Very many thanks indeed for your contribution.
(Mr Hain) I welcome the opportunity to be questioned
because it helps us to do our job. Would it help if I just told
the Committee that I understand the Commonwealth Ministerial Action
Group, which was meeting today on Zimbabwe, issued a strong statement
condemning recent developments, issued benchmarks for the government
to meet for free and fair elections but decided to defer whether
or not to recommend Zimbabwe be suspended from the Commonwealth
73. Until after the presidential election?
(Mr Hain) Until 1 March it appears. CMAG has also
insisted that the government respond on the benchmarks and will
look at it again on 1 March.
Chairman: Indeed. May I thank you for that further
information. Thank you.
6 See Evidence, p Ev 14. Back