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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK has been instrumental in pressing for and supporting demarches against the Burmese regime, including on human rights abuses against the ethnic groups. The EU has made numerous statements and demarches covering a wide range of human rights abuses including those inflicted on the Karen, Karenni and Shan people. The most recent EU demarche was made on 9 June. These have been conveyed to the regime by the local presidency in Rangoon.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our embassy in Damascus repeatedly asked the Syrian authorities for information on Jamil Bassam and Ibrahim Khodebandeh following their detention. The Syrian authorities did not respond to any of the embassy's four formal notes before the men were deported. We have taken this matter up with the Syrian Government and our embassy in Tehran has made it clear to the Iranian Government that we are taking a keen interest in the human rights of these two men.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC) brokered the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) agreed on 9 December 2002 between the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). To monitor the peace agreement in Aceh both sides agreed to international observers from Thailand and
We remain convinced that a long-term solution to the Aceh problem can only be achieved through political negotiation and consultation between the Indonesian Government and the Acehenese people. We support the statements issued by the EU, US, Japan and the World Bank, as co-chairs of the Tokyo Preparatory Conference on Peace and Reconstruction in Aceh, urging both sides to resume political dialogue. The UK, and the international community, support Indonesia's territorial integrity. We see no scope, at the moment, for a supranational body to become involved in the conflict in Aceh.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Under the UN charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The EU's security and defence policy can be used to support the UN. This is the case in the operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the EU is operating under a UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) mandate. In this case, the UNSCR sets out the mandate for the force and authorises the deployment of the force under that mandate. But the political control and strategic direction of the EU operation within the mandate is a matter for the EU.
The EU can also conduct crisis management operations without requiring a specific UNSCR to authorise the mission; for example, when the EU is operating at the request of the country concerned, as is the case for the EU's mission in Macedonia.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We understand that the United States authorities have not made a decision to transfer any of the British nationals held at Guantanamo Bay to the UK. The impact on US and UK security would be taken into account by the Government in their approach to any potential transfer of the detainees to the UK.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We do not accept that we have allowed a colour bar to be prevalent in anti-discrimination legislation by excluding "colour" discrimination from protection in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003. Most of the 1976 Act, which lists colour as one of the grounds of unlawful racial discrimination, was already more than compliant with the directive. The changes introduced by the regulations to ensure full compliance with the directive and are relatively few in number. Furthermore one of these changes, namely the definition of harassment, reflects current case law (which will continue to apply in cases involving harassment on grounds of colour).
"Colour" discrimination has been excluded from the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 because we consider that the power conferred by the European Communities Act 1972 would confer authority to combat discrimination on grounds of colour, in the course of grounds of colour, in the course of implementing the Race Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC), if it had not already been used to make good any shortfall in Community competence in certain areas of the 1976 Act corresponding to those mentioned in the directive (in order to deal with the limitation in Article 3.1 of the directive).
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government signalled their intention to introduce new measures to extend police powers when dealing with trespassers in a guidance document Managing Unauthorised Camping published by the Home Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). Responses to these new measures were received from a number of respondents including local authorities, the National Farmers Union and the police.
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