February Question on the International Criminal Court – Speech on Brexit and the UN; Rohingyas and Burma Questions Raised in Parliament – Pakistan/Sudan/North Korea/ Hong Kong/ Egypt/Saudi Arabia/ Murder in Aleppo/ 25 Killed Outside Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral/ #RedWednesday – Genocide. 2016 ‘Religious Freedom in the World’ report’ launched at Westminster


International Criminal Court

08 February 2017

Question

3.22 pm

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the composition and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court.

My Lords, the UK is committed to a rules-based international order and strongly supports the International Criminal Court. The ICC plays an important role in global efforts to end impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern by holding perpetrators to account and achieving justice for victims. Some 124 states parties have now adopted the ICC’s Rome statute and we work actively with the court and international partners to improve further its efficiency and effectiveness.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Can she tell us what assessment the Government have made of the decision reached only last week by the African Union at its summit in Addis Ababa calling for all African countries to leave the International Criminal Court, and indeed of the negative and disparaging attitude of both the Kremlin and the White House? How do we intend to rally international support in the UN Security Council and elsewhere to stop the unravelling of the court and to strengthen and enhance its efficacy in bringing to justice those who are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide?

My Lords, the short answer would be by continuing to work hard to ensure that other states parties take seriously their responsibilities and by working with colleagues such as the United States to ensure that even when they are not states parties themselves, they support as they have done the work of the ICC.

Perhaps I may address the first part of the noble Lord’s question referring to the decision at the AU summit because it is important. I appreciate what the newspaper reporting has been, but it is our understanding that the strategy being referred to does not call for mass withdrawal, but actually for further research. When I read what was said by Ministers who attended the summit, I see that they voiced strong opposition. The list of those who opposed even the research is long and includes Nigeria, Senegal and Cape Verde—I could go on and on, so there is work that we can do.

My Lords, given that the Government of whom I was a member as Attorney-General played a major role in setting up this court, have Her Majesty’s Government expressed any views to individual countries proposing to leave its jurisdiction?

Yes, my Lords; it is absolutely right that we should do so. I am delighted that the noble and learned Lord asked the question. When I was in The Hague quite recently at the states parties meeting I had a long meeting with the Justice Minister of South Africa and was able to explore in technical detail the reasons why South Africa felt that the way in which the Rome treaty was being interpreted was not in accord with its understanding. Shortly I travel to Burundi and Uganda. Uganda has not withdrawn; it gave its support, although there has been some criticism. Burundi is one of those withdrawing and I shall continue my conversations in person.

My Lords, the United States of America is not part of the International Criminal Court; it fears the politicisation of the process. Are Her Majesty’s Government sympathetic to that position? It seems unlikely to change in the near future. Or do they sympathise with the idea that there should be complete and universal ratification of the Rome statute?

My Lords, we continue to work towards universal and complete ratification of the Rome statute, while understanding that some countries, including allies such as the United States, may be supportive without being signatories to the Rome statute. I can tell my noble friend that since the election of President Trump we have worked closely with the Administration in the United Nations and the ICC in New York and with Nikki Haley, who has been appointed as the US representative to the United Nations, to ensure that United States co-operation with the ICC continues.

My Lords, in April last year the House of Commons resolved that ISIS should be referred to the ICC. What action have the Government taken to raise this at the Security Council in order to secure an investigation?

My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord will be aware that a United Nations Security Council resolution on these very matters was vetoed a while ago. We continue to press the issue of bringing ISIL/Daesh to account and also bringing Assad to account. Therefore I am pleased to say that on 21 December last year we co-sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution to establish a new international, impartial, independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria since March 2011.

My Lords, following the visit of Sudan’s President al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court, to many countries including Kenya, South Africa, China, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, what discussions have Her Majesty’s Government had with the Governments of those countries about their failure to arrest him? Does the noble Baroness agree that the failure to arrest someone indicted by the International Criminal Court devalues and discredits the work of the ICC?

The noble Baroness raises a very important point. It is the case that countries which are states parties should, indeed, ensure that those who are indicted by them are then arrested. I was able, as I mentioned a moment ago to the noble and learned Lord, to discuss these wide matters with South Africa. The UK and EU partners have conducted demarches in countries which failed to arrest President Bashir. We agree with the noble Baroness that achieving justice for victims should be at the heart of the international community’s response to mass atrocity violence. It is important that fugitives from international justice do not just get away.

My Lords, the substantive decision of the African Union, as I understand it, was not withdrawal but a call for regionalisation of the ICC. Does the Minister agree that one very important issue that arises about that concerns the consequences of regionalisation and the need to ensure continuation of three principles: first, due process of taking evidence; secondly, penalties meeting an international standard; and thirdly, the ability still to make appeals at a global level?

My Lords, as I mentioned a little while ago, I think there has been a little misreporting or misunderstanding of what was decided at the African Union. However, the noble Lord makes an important point. We welcome initiatives, whether at regional or international level, to support international justice and accountability, so we are willing to listen to all ways that can take us forward. The most appropriate forum for discussion of issues that states may have with the ICC is the Assembly of States Parties, which I have attended in the two years for which I have had the justification, as Minister, for doing so. We make our points very strongly there, both in the forum itself and bilaterally.

My Lords, if the African members were to withdraw, 34 of the total membership of 124 would have left, and this sole forum for global criminal justice would be lost. Is not the chief prosecutor, Ms Bensouda, collecting evidence in various countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq—and is there any prospect of further prosecution from such localities?

My Lords, I pay tribute to the work of Fatou Bensouda against sometimes very challenging conditions. We support her in her work. She is independent, and we do not try to influence it; that would be improper. I repeat that this was not a mass withdrawal, and we are not expecting a mass withdrawal of African states. I am certainly working towards ensuring that the ICC maintains its credibility. Changes in government in the Gambia show that there can be ways of ensuring that countries stay members of the ICC.

 

Oral questions: Wednesday February 8th 2017.

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government:

 

What assessment they have made of the composition and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court

 

Background to the ICC.

 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It began functioning in July 2002 when the Rome Statute came into force. The ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague.

By ratifying the Statute, States become members of the ICC and there are currently 124 member States.  Three have given notice of their intention to withdraw (Burundi, South Africa and Gambia) and last week, at its conference in Addis Ababa, the African Union called on all African countries to withdraw. The ICC has struggled to obtain widespread international acceptance with the US, India and China, as well as most Middle Eastern states, declining to ratify the Rome Statute which established the Court. 

The ICC was not created to replace existing national judicial systems and it may only exercise its prerogative when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute or when individual States or the United Nations Security Council refers investigations to the ICC.

In June 2012 Fatou Bensouda, of Gambia, became Prosecutor, succeeding Luis Moreno Ocampo, of Argentina, who had held office from 2003.

 

Criticisms of the ICC

 

The ICC is in the invidious position of being “damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t” – accused by African countries of only prosecuting African leaders while Russia, the US, and western countries fear its reach extending to them. Africans complain that the ICC has failed to investigate war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan – although they were initially enthusiastic with some of the first cases being referred to the ICC by African Heads of State (Uganda’s President Museveni referred the case of Joseph Kony).

Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, who was elected African Union chairman at the two-day summit in Addis Ababa, criticised the ICC for focusing its efforts on African leaders.

“Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares,” Déby said at the close of the AU summit, which had an official theme of protecting human rights.

Many fear that the real reason why some African leaders oppose the ICC is because they want  African Heads of State to have immunity from prosecution.

The ICC is also accused of impotence in failing to bring men like  the Lord’s Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony and Sudan’s Field Marshall Bashir to justice while declining to bring countries like North Korea and organisations like ISIS before the court because of fears that countries like China and Russia will exercise their veto at the Security Council.

 

Investigations

 

To date, 39 individuals have been indicted by the ICC – including Field Marshall Omar al-Bashir (President of Sudan, indicted for genocide in Darfur), and Joseph Kony (the leader of the LRA).

The Prosecutor has opened investigations in ten situations – including two in Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivorie, Darfur, DRC, Georgia, Kenya, Mali and Uganda. A further ten preliminary examinations are considering evidence involving Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq/the UK, Nigeria, Palestine and issues involving registered vessels of Comoros, Greece, Cambodia and Ukraine.

It has also issued five policy papers including one in June 2014 examining sexual and gender based crimes.

The Prosecutor is mandated to initiate and investigate unless there are “substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice”…when “taking into account the gravity of the crime and the interest of the victims.”

One of the great innovations of the International Criminal Court and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence is the series of rights granted to victims giving victims the unprecedented possibility of appearing before the Court.

 

Outcomes

 

In addition to the indictment of the 39, the ICC has issued arrest warrants for 31 individuals and summonses to 8 others; 7 prisoners are in detention; proceedings against 22 continue; 9 are fugitives at large; 4 are under arrest (but not in the custody of the Court); 8 are at trial and 1 is appealing conviction.

Proceedings against 17 are complete; 3 have been convicted; 1 acquitted; 6 have had charges dismissed; 2 have had charges withdrawn; 1 has had the case declared inadmissible and 4 died before being brought to trial.

In the DRC trial of Lubanga, Katanga and Chui, Lubanga was convicted and sentenced to 14 years; Katanga to 12 years and Chui was acquitted.

In the CAR trial Bemba was convicted on two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes. Rape was added to his conviction. Other cases involving DRC, Cote D’Ivoire and Darfur continue.

 

Key Cases

 

Joseph Kony and the LRA:  Warrants of arrest were issued in 2005 for Joseph Kony and four others. He is accused of numerous human rights violations including massacres, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers, sexual enslavement, torture, and pillaging. Twelve years later four of the five suspects are at large as fugitives and their whereabouts are unknown.

 

Sudan and Omar al Bashirnotwithstanding an outstanding ICC warrant for his arrest on genocide charges, Bashir has travelled with impunity to Kenya, South Africa, China, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Qatar and Egypt.  He says the ICC is part of a “Western plot against him”.  Meanwhile, he continues to attack civilian populations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan and is accused of using chemical weapons in Darfur.

 

North KoreaThree years ago the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Judge Michael Kirby said its human rights violations make it a “state without parallel.”  Kirby said evidence adduced by the inquiry “was very similar to the testimony one sees on visiting a Holocaust Museum by those who were the victims of Nazi oppression in the last century” and that the “witnesses told their stories in a low key way, without exaggeration“. Fear of a veto by China has forestalled a referral to the ICC

 

Russia On November 16th 2016 Russia said it was formally withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute (although it had never ratified the Treaty). It did so one day after the ICC published a report classifying the Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation. Mr. Putin’s spokesman said the tribunal had failed to live up to hopes of the international community. He denounced its work as “one-sided and inefficient.” Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said “This is a symbolic gesture of rejection, and says a lot about Russia’s attitude towards international justice and institutions.”

Syria and ISIS: Russia may also be concerned about ICC jurisdiction in Syria, where its forces have been repeatedly accused of war crimes, while the House of Commons Resolution of April 2016, that ISIS should be referred to the ICC for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, has never been acted upon.

The US and Donald Trump: On January 26th The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration would not continue to fund the ICC. The US has never been a member and does not directly fund the ICC. Like Putin, Trump fears ICC criticism and possible prosecution (in the case of the US the investigation of troops in Afghanistan). The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said that losing U.S. cooperation to capture indictees would deal a blow to a court that depends on governments that have no enforcement powers of their own, stating, “It was significant to have U.S. cooperation.” Bensouda fears that complete US disengagement will embolden critics of the ICC and that When increasingly international criminal justice is being challenged, it is this moment that the court needs its supporters. This is critical for the court’s existence.”

 

Expectations Measured Against Outcomes

Despite great expectations that the pursuit of justice would temper behaviour, and be an instrument for peace, the withdrawal of members and the failure, in too many instances, to bring principal offenders to justice risks the emasculation and discrediting of the ICC.

Meanwhile, the resurgence of nationalist politics ( to the fore in Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidential election victory and with the rise of the Far Right in Western Europe), suggests the tide may be turning against international organisations and institutions.

As a spokesman for the ICC said last week  “The support of the international community is necessary for the ICC to fulfil its independent and impartial mandate to help end impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, provide justice to the victims of such crimes and contribute to the prevention of future atrocities.” 

Fatou Bensouda, the Court’s Chief Prosecutor, says she deplores recent withdrawals from the Rome Statute: “Any act that may undermine the global movement towards greater accountability for atrocity crimes and a ruled-based international order in this new century is surely – when objectively viewed – regrettable.”

Notwithstanding its failings and frequent impotence the ICC’s President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi is right that: “The Court has continued to do the work for which it was created and has made significant achievements in addressing crimes of concern to the international community as a whole such as the use of child soldiers, sexual violence in conflict, attacks on civilians and the destruction of cultural property.”

Seventy years after Nuremberg, global justice is clearly still a work in progress. For the UK the entrenchment and development of the ICC should be a long term priority ensuring that perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity are brought to justice and their victims across the world are treated equitably and without fear or favour.

 

Some questions that arise:

 

In the light of last week’s call by the African Union, urging all African countries to leave the ICC, do we intend to ask the Security Council to consider the future composition, resourcing, mandate and reform of the ICC – and are we seeking to engage with countries whose departure would fundamentally jeopardise the ICC’s future? 

Doesn’t withdrawal of members, from the ICC, and the failure in too many instances to bring principal offenders to justice risk the emasculation and discrediting of the ICC? What discussions have we had with the United States about their future attitude to the ICC?

What discussions have we had with Fatou Bensouda, the Court’s Chief Prosecutor, about ways to strengthen and reform the ICC and, in particular, providing fewer opportunities for individual States to thwart or veto its work.

Does the Government agree with Fatou Bensouda, the Court’s Chief Prosecutor, that “Any act that may undermine the global movement towards greater accountability for atrocity crimes and a ruled-based international order in this new century is surely – when objectively viewed – regrettable?”  If so, what priority is HMG giving to prevent its disintegration?

 

Following the visits of Sudan’s Field Marshal Bashir to Kenya, South Africa, China, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Qatar and Egypt, what discussions have we held with the Governments of those countries about the failure to arrest him; what exactly is the point of bringing genocide charges if such indictments are not then acted upon; and are we now adding to the charges the atrocities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and the alleged use of chemical weapons in Darfur?

Does the Minister agree with Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch who says that Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute “is a symbolic gesture of rejection, and says a lot about Russia’s attitude towards international justice and institutions” and how will Russia now be held to account for its war crimes and illegal actions in Syria and the Ukraine.

How is it possible, 12 years after arrest warrants were issued against Joseph Kony, and four others, for massacres, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers, sexual enslavement, torture, and pillaging, to remain at large as fugitives and their whereabouts unknown? Is the ICC any nearer to bringing this mass murderer to justice?

Following the House of Commons Resolution of April 2016 that ISIS should be referred to the ICC for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, what timetable does the Government have for ensuring that ISIS is brought before the ICC or, failing that, a specially constituted Regional Tribunal?

 

Given the conclusion of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, that North Korea is a “state without parallel” and the statement of its chairman, Judge Michael Kirby that the evidence “was very similar to the testimony one sees on visiting a Holocaust Museum by those who were the victims of Nazi oppression in the last century“, why has no referral been made to the ICC and how does HMG envisage bringing to justice those responsible? 

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Speech in the House of Lords on Brexit, the EU and the United Nations

January 26th 2017

My Lords, in warmly congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and the committee’s other members on this excellent first outing, I, too, hope that he recovers swiftly from his illness.

The courageous Dag Hammarskjöld, the second of the United Nations Secretaries-General, has always been a hero of mine. I commend his book, Markings, to President Trump, who recently described the United Nations as a “club” for people to “have a good time” and yesterday reined in the US’s funding to the UN by 40%. Ironically, he included in his executive order the International Criminal Court, yet the US currently pays nothing to the ICC and is not a member. I hope that the Minister will say what this might add up to but also address the composition, competences and resources of the ICC in its capacity to bring to justice those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity in so many parts of the world.

Hammarskjöld once said:

“We should … recognise the United Nations for what it is—an admittedly imperfect but indispensable instrument of nations working for a

peace evolution towards a more just and secure world”.

He also said:

“Setbacks in trying to realise the ideal do not prove that the ideal is at fault”.

So we must distinguish between agencies which need reform—such as UNFPA, which indirectly aided and abetted China’s grotesque one-child policy—and the reasons why the UN, or for that matter the EU, were created. The objective must always surely be to strengthen and reform international institutions and not to weaken them.

In this context, the Prime Minister was right to reassure our European neighbours that, as we leave the Union, we have no gleeful wish to see its collapse or unravelling.

The only beneficiaries would be, for different reasons, Vladimir Putin and those parties of the far right which this year will campaign strongly in either general or presidential elections in some six EU countries. As occurred here, such parties will receive oxygen from Junckerism’s dangerous inflexibility, which played such a part in Britain’s decision to leave and now endangers continental European cohesion.

Yet the Schuman declaration disavowed one “single plan” and emphasised adaptability. So, for instance, a reform requiring an applicant to obtain a job offer before moving would not violate the Schuman declaration and would address a running sore. In this context, too, I welcome the Prime Minister’s bold and defining vision of what Britain must now do. Britain’s capabilities in many spheres—economic trading, intelligence, military—must be strengthened and directed towards open and free markets, with diplomats, politicians and civil servants working tirelessly to make a success of this.

If the elected House votes to trigger Article 50, we would have no right to try to sabotage this. Constitutional showdowns between this House and the House of Commons have never ended well and we must tread with great care and wisdom—I say that as someone who voted remain.

While these interminable arguments have been going on, the world has not stood still. Let us consider, for instance, Mr Putin’s new alliance with Turkey, now a semi-detached member of NATO, and, following the abandonment of Ukraine, the wave of fear now sweeping Baltic countries. All this should give us pause for thought.

The Select Committee report rightly identifies the shifting of power from west to east. One of the great imponderables of the Trump presidency is how he will deal with China. It was another US President, John F Kennedy, who famously employed the trope that the Chinese word for crisis contains two distinct characters, signifying both danger and opportunity. The region is full of both.

When the Minister comes to reply, I hope that she will address the stand-off over the Spratlys. My noble friend Lord Hannay referred by allusion to the situation in the South and East China Seas, where £3.4 trillion of trade passes over the Spratlys. There is also the dangerous nuclear expansionism of North Korea, with its horrendous violations of human rights and treatment of refugees. I declare my interest as joint chairman of the All-Party Group on North Korea.

Failure to resolve these issues peacefully would all undermine President Xi Jinping’s unlikely but welcome speech at Davos last week, in favour of free trade and against protectionism. At one with the Prime Minister, he said that we need to be “well connected and interconnected” and to learn to “share prosperity”. China is not in a customs union with the EU or a member of the single market, so the freight train that arrived at Barking on 18 January, having crossed seven countries and journeyed for 14 days on the new silk road from the Chinese city of Yiwu, pointed to new opportunities for the UK.

In our generation, there are endless dangers and opportunities, and in that context the Select Committee’s report is so welcome.

4.31 pm

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2.37 pm January 12th 2017

 Speech on Rohingyas and Burma. 

My Lords, even as we meet today for this important debate, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, is in Burma. When the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, comes to reply, I would be grateful for her assessment of that visit and the contribution the UK Government are able to make to it. What is her response to the well-documented reports which detail the plight of the Rohingyas and, as we have heard in the debate, point to mass rape, mass displacement and the murder of men, women and children; the burning of houses; and crucially, the denial of access to the affected areas for humanitarian aid.

In a letter to The Guardian on 28 November a number of us, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Kinnock and Lady Nye, and my noble friend Lady Cox, called for the international inquiry which has been referred to during the debate. We said:

“The international community cannot stand idly by while peaceful civilians are mown down by helicopter guns, women are raped and tens of thousands left without homes”.

When I raised these atrocities in a Parliamentary Question, the Minister referred me to the Rakhine Investigation Commission. That commission’s interim report said that there were,

“no cases of malnutrition, due to the area’s favourable fishing and farming conditions … and … no cases of religious persecution”.

That is palpably risible.

Human Rights Watch has described the investigation as little more than a “Myanmar government whitewash mechanism”. Can the Minister tell us whether the Government will support the calls that she has heard throughout this debate for the establishment of a United Nations commission of inquiry so that the truth may come out? Let us recall what the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, said to us about 23 of the world’s most prominent human rights voices, including a dozen Nobel Laureates, calling on the Security Council to end,

“ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”,

in the Rakhine state.

Just as the emergency in Rakhine requires an urgent response, so does the conflict in Kachin state and the northern Shan states. Kachin camps for initially displaced people have been bombed. On Christmas Eve, following the bombing of a church at Mongkoe, two Kachin Christians, Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng, simply disappeared, believed to have been abducted as a reprisal for taking journalists to see the bombed church. Have Her Majesty’s Government raised this case and taken action to secure their safe return to their families? How does the Minister respond to Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s campaign to end restrictions on humanitarian aid to Rakhine, Kachin and the northern Shan states, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Nye, referred earlier?

Burma’s courageous cardinal, Charles Bo, whom I had the privilege of hosting in this place last year, said in his Christmas message:

“Just sixty years of history—more than 22 to wars and now three wars going on. In the last sixty years, we have buried thousands in these wars of mutual hatred, displaced millions … Wars have exported our girls to modern forms of slavery … At this very moment, thousands are refugees—they have no home”.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that Burma’s history and present are not its future, and that the hopes of a democratic, federal and peaceful Burma, in which people of all ethnicities and religions have an equal stake, are realised and not dashed.

Along with others, I pay tribute to the extraordinary and phenomenal work that the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, does with the Burma campaign and with the all-party group here in the House, and thank her for giving us the opportunity to raise these important questions on the Floor of your Lordships’ House today.

 

2.41 pm

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BURMA – ROHINGYA

BURMA

Lord Bates, the Department for International Development, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4323):

Question: Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are being taken to provide assistance to the government of Bangladesh to help meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. (HL4323)

Tabled on: 21 December 2016

Answer:
Lord Bates:

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by the current situation in Rakhine and the persecution of the Muslim minority Rohingya community. The UK Government has repeatedly called on the Government of Bangladesh not to return the people seeking refuge back into danger and we continue to offer support through our work with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Food Programme. The UK is the largest provider of food aid to the 34,000 Rohingya refugees already living in official camps in Bangladesh. Since 2014 the UK has provided nearly £8 million to address the humanitarian suffering of Rohingya refugees and the vulnerable Bangladeshi communities that host them. UK-funded humanitarian programmes have benefitted 82,000 people in the south east of Bangladesh. Also in Bangladesh we are increasing access to nutrition, health and education services for refugees living in makeshift settlements and the host communities that support them.

The UK Government has also engaged the Government of Burma to urge a restrained security response, an independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses, and for the immediate resumption of access for humanitarian aid. The Government of Burma has now committed to restoring humanitarian access and investigating allegations of human rights abuses. We will continue to monitor and support the delivery of these commitments.

Date and time of answer: 05 Jan 2017 at 15:41.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 14 November (HL2815) and following her meeting with Burma’s Minister of Defence, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, how the government of Burma has responded to their call to show restraint and to restore humanitarian aid and other access to Burma’s Rohingya people.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 14 November (HL2815) and following her meeting with government of Burma, whether they have made any progress in pressing the government of Burma for a full and transparent international inquiry into the plight of Burma’s Rohingya people.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

The government of Burma has committed to conducting an independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine State by the security forces in response to an attack by armed Rohingya on 9 October. We understand the Burmese Government is now in the process of setting this up, and we will continue to monitor progress closely. The government of Burma has also committed to restoring humanitarian access. While we have seen a limited resumption of aid in some areas, in practice worrying restrictions on humanitarian access remain. We will continue to press the case for unfettered humanitarian access.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 14 November (HL2815) and following her meeting with government of Burma, whether they have made any progress in pressing the government of Burma for a full and transparent international inquiry into the plight of Burma’s Rohingya people.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

The government of Burma has committed to conducting an independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine State by the security forces in response to an attack by armed Rohingya on 9 October. We understand the Burmese Government is now in the process of setting this up, and we will continue to monitor progress closely. The government of Burma has also committed to restoring humanitarian access. While we have seen a limited resumption of aid in some areas, in practice worrying restrictions on humanitarian access remain. We will continue to press the case for unfettered humanitarian access.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of an upsurge in violence against Rohingya Muslims by the Burmese military.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

We condemn the attacks on 9 October in northern Rakhine and the killing of nine Burmese Border Guard policemen. Since then, we have become increasingly concerned by emerging reports of human rights violations committed by security forces. The British Ambassador to Burma travelled to Northern Rakhine on 2 November and along with our US and EU partners have pressed the Burmese Government for a full and transparent investigation. I made these concerns clear to the Burmese Government during my visit there last week (9-12 November) when I met the Minister of Defence, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. I reiterated the UK Government‘s call for restraint and the restoration of humanitarian and other access. I also met Rohingya representatives in Rangoon. We welcome Aung San Suu Kyi‘s commitment to a fair and legally compliant investigation and urge the security forces to abide by international norms and commitments. We will continue to monitor developments closely.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4322):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the recommendations concerning the initiation of an independent, impartial and effective investigation into alleged violations of international law in northern Rakhine State, contained in the report from Amnesty International We are at breaking point. (HL4322)

Tabled on: 21 December 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

The Government agrees there should be an independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese military during security operations in northern Rakhine State. I urged the Burmese Government to establish such an investigation when I visited Burma from 9-12 November. We note the creation of the Rakhine Investigation Commission, as well as concerns raised about its composition and impartiality. Now that the investigation is under way we call on the commission to demonstrate the commitments to impartiality made on its behalf by the Burmese Government.

Date and time of answer: 09 Jan 2017 at 15:12.

 

 

Subject: Written answer to your QWA HL4321 received from Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4321):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the recommendations concerning (1) the cessation of violations of international law, and (2) the need for immediate unhindered access for human rights monitors and journalists, in northern Rakhine State, contained in the report from Amnesty International We are at breaking point. (HL4321)

Tabled on: 21 December 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

I have lobbied the government of Burma for an immediate resumption of humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State, and pressed for a full and independent investigation into all reports of human rights violations. The Burmese Government has committed to restore access and investigate allegations of violations. While we have seen a limited resumption of aid in some areas, in practice worrying restrictions on humanitarian access remain. Ministers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, as well as our Ambassador in Rangoon, continue to call on the Burmese Government and the military to restore access as a matter of urgency.

Date and time of answer: 09 Jan 2017 at 15:12.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4320):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings on the use of violence by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya since 9 October, contained in the report from Amnesty International We are at breaking point. (HL4320)

Tabled on: 21 December 2016

Answer:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

We are aware of a number of recent reports by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, indicating that the Burmese military has used violence against the Rohingya during security operations in Rakhine since 9 October. We view these reports with deep concern. I raised our concerns when I visited Burma from 9-12 November, and urged Burmese Government Ministers to establish a full and independent investigation into human rights violations.

Date and time of answer: 09 Jan 2017 at 15:11.

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DavidAlton.net

Burma – Ministerial relies on Rohingya – click here:

PAKISTAN

Pakistan

Lord Bates, the Department for International Development, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4306):

Question: Lord Alton of Liverpool


To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 5 December (HL3360), what consideration was given by the Department for International Development to other international and local assessments of the implementation of the 2006 national curriculum by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (HL4306)

Tabled on: 20 December 2016

Answer:
Lord Bates:

The Department for International Development has taken into consideration a number of reports over recent years which have looked, in part, at implementation of the 2006 national curriculum. These include the November 2011 report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, ‘Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan’. The Department is currently supporting the…

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