Baroness Cox and Lord Alton Highlight The Continued Killing In South Kordofan and Darfur

Sudan and South Sudan: EUC Report
The EU: Sudan and South Sudan-follow-up report
Motion to Take Note
17 Oct 2012 : Column GC568

Map of Darfur and South Kordofan

Darfur aerial bombardment

Children are being left malnurished as the regime forces non governmental organisations to leave

South Kordofan bombing

The consequences of conflict

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxi4R3uP9bo&feature=youtu.be

7.20 pm
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, to her new ministerial responsibilities, as others have done. I couple with that my thanks and, I am sure, those of many other noble Lords, to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, who dealt with these issues over such a long period and with patience and diligence, and always with great kindness in the way in which he responded to the vexed inquiries that many of us made to him. The noble Baroness, of course, has personal knowledge of Sudan, having travelled there to negotiate the release of Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after a pupil in her class named a teddy bear after the Prophet Muhammad. I know that the noble Baroness is deeply committed to religious tolerance, to co-existence, and to finding ways of resolving the kinds of conflicts that your Lordships have been discussing today. We should all be extremely pleased that she has these new ministerial responsibilities, and we all, I am sure, wish her well.
Earlier we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Jay, about how Darfur has often been swept to one side in the concerns about north-south relationships. That is true, and I want to return to that issue shortly in my remarks. I begin by referring to the situation in South Kordofan, as the most reverend Primate, the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, have done. On innumerable occasions I have raised this issue on the Floor of the House with my noble friend Lady Cox, who I am sure will expend a lot of her remarks on that question when she comes to speak.
A meeting was held earlier today with members of the All-Party Group on Sudan, of which I am an officer, along with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and others who are here. I was struck during that meeting with senior officials from the Foreign Office by how immediate and contemporary these concerns are. As a result of a reference that they made to an article that appeared in yesterday’s Guardian, I took the trouble to obtain a copy of that article. I have not seen the YouTube video that apparently has been placed on the internet to which the article refers, but it says:
“Dramatic video footage and satellite images have revealed Sudanese security forces are waging a violent campaign in the Nuba mountains comparable to war crimes in Darfur … The Satellite Sentinel Project … shows the terrifying ordeal of a teenager being tied up and interrogated at gunpoint as a village goes up in flames”.
It goes on to say:
“The SSP said a joint unit of Sudanese army, militia and police forces burned and looted Gardud al Badry”.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a partner in the SSP, was quoted in the Guardian report yesterday as saying:
“‘We are seeing a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses’ … He added, ‘Through this campaign of targeted violence, which amounts to crimes against humanity, and its denial of humanitarian access, the government of Sudan is displacing thousands of civilians and contributing to insecurity in the region'”.
Four days ago, an AFP report stated:
“Tanks, artillery and helicopters staged a show of force in the capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state on Friday, official media said, after unprecedented and deadly rebel shelling of the town”.

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The military parade of force was led by Ahmed Haroun, who, along with Field-Marshal Omar al-Bashir, referred to earlier in our debate, the president of Sudan, is the governor of Kordofan, and like Bashir is indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. As I raised with officials earlier today, I hope that we will hear from the Minister what we are doing to ensure that we are taking witness statements from those who have been driven into South Sudan from South Kordofan. Many are in refugee camps. It is perfectly possible, therefore, to take first-hand witness statements of the depredations that have occurred in Kordofan. Aerial bombardment continues even while we are meeting.
I turn specifically to Darfur because we are about to reach the 10th anniversary of that conflict, and I hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will take the opportunity, when we reach the anniversary in February next year, to mark it with a series of events, as the all-party group intends to do. Today is a good day to ask the Minister what has happened to Darfur, as did my noble friend Lord Jay and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in their remarks. Why is Darfur forgotten while violence is not only continuing, but when one report earlier this month stated that this is,
“the bloodiest year yet in the region”?
Why is the international community so supine in demanding an end to the violence? Since my visit to Darfur in 2004, and the report which I then published then, entitled If This Isn’t Genocide, What Is? 2 million people have been displaced. About 200,000 to 300,000 people have been killed and 90% of the villages have been razed to the ground; and the situation continues to be bleak. Just this week, the acting head of Darfur’s peacekeeping mission, Ms Aichatou Mindjaouldou, highlighted the recent alarming rise in violence with high civilian casualties, calling the trend an “alarming development”. Between 25 and 27 September, more than 70 civilians were killed in Hashaba with reports of aerial bombardments there as well as in South Kordofan. Further west, four Nigerian peacekeepers were killed on 2 October in an ambush near El-Geneina in west Darfur, the area I visited eight years ago.
In the context of the EU sub-committee’s remit-at paragraph 6 the report refers briefly to the “extremely serious” situation in the region, the EU is a member of the Joint Commission which is one of two ceasefire monitoring and implementation mechanisms provided for in the July 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. It was tasked with resolving disputes referred to it by the Ceasefire Commission, the other mechanism. Perhaps in the sub-committee’s future work, it might be interested to find out why we have failed to put those instruments into operation.
The failure to create peace has left approximately 3.2 million people in Darfur currently receiving food aid, including some 1.7 million IDPs registered in camps. As I said, Darfur is a dangerous and lawless region. There are fears that the operations of the NGOs and humanitarian agencies that deliver this aid will face increasing difficulty due not only to increasing violence, but also to deliberate attempts by the Government of Sudan to restrict access and impede operations. We have already seen the expulsion of numerous NGOs from Sudan over the past few years,

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13 in 2009 and four this year from east Sudan. The situation that is developing there is extremely ominous as well. If the space for humanitarian operations in Darfur continues to narrow, what will be the implications for the millions of people dependent on aid? If the remaining NGOs are made to leave, how will the gap be filled?
Let me mention one of those NGOs. Earlier in the year, with my noble friend Lord Sandwich, I attended a meeting in your Lordships’ House which was addressed by the remarkable Patricia Parker MBE, who is the chief executive officer and chairman of trustees of Kids for Kids, a charity that works in Darfur and whose patrons include the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, and the noble Lord, Lord Cope. Mrs Parker believes, as I do, that Darfur is has become out of sight and out of mind as the juggernaut of the world media and campaigning activism has simply decided to move on. At the Conservative Party Conference, the Foreign Secretary William Hague specifically highlighted the use of rape as a weapon of war and rightly cited Syria, Rwanda and Bosnia, but not Darfur, where there continue to be almost weekly reports of rape. Why was there this omission and why has it gone out of mind?
In Darfur, rape has led to HIV becoming a major issue. I was sent a photograph last week of a dying little boy in El Fasher hospital who had already seen both his parents die of HIV. Before the conflict erupted in Darfur 10 years ago, HIV was unknown. Since then, year by year, rape has been used as a weapon of war with horrifying consequences. This conflict has been fuelled by a regime whose leaders are indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity. The Sudanese air force continues to bomb its own people weekly and a recent report from the organisation Waging Peace shows that government-sponsored attacks are increasing in their regularity as the regime continues to work through its local proxies.
It would be good to hear from the Minister what she is doing to ensure that Field Marshall Omar al-Bashir is brought to justice. Have we supported the suggestion made on 5 June by the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Merino Ocampo, as he relinquished his post? He argued that the UN Security Council should consider asking member states and regional organisations to conduct operations to arrest Sudanese officials indicted by the ICC. Is that something which Her Majesty’s Government would be prepared to support?
As the conflict has raged it has led not only to systematic rape, it has decimated the ability of the people to feed themselves and their children. We heard a very pertinent contribution by my noble friend Lord Cameron on the issue of agriculture and the importance of sustainability in terms of people being able to feed themselves. Let me give an illustration of the scale of the problem. Last year, Hilat Ibrahim, a village of 1,500 people, lost 37 children to malnutrition. One in every 12 families has lost a child, and Kids for Kids reports that the majority of families in the villages have not been able to save enough seed to plant this season. Children are facing horrendous conditions in the villages of Darfur, yet again the international media is sadly silent.

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In February 2011, Henry Bellingham, then the Minister for Africa, said that,
“we will not be taking our eye off Darfur, as we work tirelessly to establish a lasting peace in that troubled province”.-[Official Report, Commons, 1/2/11; col. 724.]
Yet whatever the words, the violence is increasing, HIV is rampant, children are malnourished and the world has moved on. Even at the height of the violence and when Darfur was in the headlines, aid did not reach two-thirds of the population. The international community claimed that its aid programme was a success because the aim was to help those people who had fled to the camps. But what of the families struggling to survive in the villages in rural areas? The months ahead are set to be the hardest ever.
Over half the population of Darfur has no water source. Almost a quarter of the population, including children, walk more than six miles to reach water in winter. In the summer “hungry” months, many walk more than 20 miles. Walking for water continues to be dangerous, with frequent reports of attacks. UNAMID has at times provided escorts to groups of women from the camps, but not for the women in the villages. With failed crops, women have to scavenge not just for water, but for wood and wild food such as mukheit, which is toxic, but anything is better than nothing if you are trying to survive. It is harder to find scarce food in a group, and still they are attacked. Healthcare in villages has collapsed.
UNAMID is the world’s most expensive peacekeeping force, yet it is regarded by most Darfuris as siding with their oppressors in Khartoum, so ineffective have been its operations. Moreover, its capacity is about to be cut. On 31 July, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2063, renewing the mandate of UNAMID for a year. The resolution authorised a reconfiguration of UNAMID to include 16,200 military personnel, 2,310 police personnel and 17 formed police units of a maximum of 140 personnel each. Prior to the adoption, the council was briefed by the joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari. Mr Gambari said that implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur was behind schedule and that a new implementation timeline had been created. UNAMID, the world’s largest peacekeeping force, has received a lot of criticism for its failure to protect civilians, a lack of clarity in its protection mandate, and some suspicions from Darfuris that UNAMID is too close to the Government. However, as with the humanitarian agencies, UNAMID has been a victim of the number of restrictions and bureaucratic impediments to its operations by the Government of Sudan. Darfur, as I have said in every respect, is difficult terrain. Its new iteration consists of a number of cuts to troop numbers to reflect the contested suggestion that there had been a “drastic decrease” in the number of people killed in clashes and to enable it to react more rapidly. This does not accord with the description of 2012 as the “bloodiest year yet” in the region.
I would like to hear from the Minister about the renewal of the UNAMID mandate and whether Her Majesty’s Government supported the reductions in the number of peacekeepers in Darfur. What steps have been taken to implement the Doha Document for

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Peace in Darfur, to which I have already referred? Can she tell us how the UK has highlighted other critical issues, including the escalation in violence that I have mentioned-the attacks against civilians and the use of sexual or gender-based violence? What of the failure of other rebel movements to sign the Doha document? What of the deaths of 10 UNAMID peacekeepers in the past year and the prevention of humanitarian agencies from assessing those most in need?
Given that Khartoum has expelled most international humanitarian groups, whose presence is desperately needed, what representations are we making to the Government of Sudan, the rebel groups and the international partners to urge greater access for the humanitarian organisations? What has been the result of those representations? What assistance might we consider extending beyond our current programmes to communities struggling to survive in rural villages in Darfur? Will we commit to adjusting the balance of spend on bilateral assistance in Darfur towards greater funding for sustainable development projects in rural villages, and encourage other donors to do likewise?
What support will we give to IDP families to enable them to settle in host villages, enabling them to be assimilated in the community through integrated projects? Kids for Kids has a unique “welcome home” package that is sustainable and does that, and I hope that the Minister will agree to meet Mrs Parker to discuss that important work. Can the Minister tell us, either today or through correspondence, what we are doing to promote civil society in Darfur? Finally, what is the Minister’s assessment of the current state of this continuing conflict?
The situation in Darfur, and more broadly in Sudan and South Sudan, requires sustained high-level political action by the European Union and Her Majesty’s Government for years to come. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Darfur, we must also remember that this area of the country has been consistently and intentionally marginalised for decades. It will take decades to build peace and stability, and a long-term view of development is essential. Now is most certainly not the time to take our eyes off Darfur.
7.36 pm

Rwanda’s Role In Eastern Congo Atrocities – Secretary of State Replies

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

11.06 am

Asked by

Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that mutineers in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo have received assistance from foreign military officials.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford):

My Lords, we have studied the United Nations Group of Experts report and believe it to be credible. We call on the countries named in the report to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict, and one that breaks the cycle of violence.

Lord Chidgey:

I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer, but is he aware that Presidents Kabila and Kagame have agreed that the 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region should work with the AU and the UN to establish a neutral force along the Rwanda-Congo border? Has President Kagame discussed with our Prime Minister which countries are offering to commit troops while Rwanda withdraws its support from the M23 rebels? Secondly, the Tutsi leader, Senator Mwangachuchu, claims that the M23 rebellion resulted from the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga and the indictment of Bosco Ntaganda for recruiting child soldiers and other crimes. Has the Prime Minister offered UK assistance, or has any other agency offered assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco Ntaganda?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

In answer to my noble friend’s questions, yes I am aware of the Great Lakes conference agreement by Presidents Kabila and Kagame and others that they should consider the idea of a border force, but it is still only at the thinking stage. Did my right honourable friend the Prime Minister discuss this with President Kagame when he saw him a few weeks ago? The answer is no, because the propositions of the Great Lakes group had not come forward at that point. The Prime Minister expressed extreme concern at the Group of Experts report that Rwanda might be involved in backing the M23, but other developments have taken place since.

Has the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga created an atmosphere in which the M23 rebellion and breakaway from the Congolese army has taken place? I have to say that it may have played a part, but it is very hard to say. It may have been one of the reasons why Bosco Ntaganda and others retreated from their previous co-operation with the Congo army and have set up a mutineers’ group again. Have we offered, and has my right honourable friend offered, UK assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco, who is of course indicted by the ICC? No, because it is the responsibility of the DRC itself to co-operate fully with the ICC, and that is what we constantly urge.

Lord Boateng:

Given the importance of the African Union and South Africa and their good offices to the future of the DRC, would the Minister welcome the accession of the former Foreign Minister of South Africa, Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, to the leadership of the African Union? Her good offices are going to be absolutely crucial at this time if we are to bring peace and security to that area.

Lord Howell of Guildford:

The noble Lord is absolutely right, and I certainly welcome that accession. The African Union is playing an increasingly positive part in facing up to the regional issues in the centre of Africa and at the centre of its concerns. We certainly welcome that. Obviously the African Union has played a key part in the International Conference on the Great Lakes, which was in the margins of the meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa the other day. It is a very good prospect that South Africa is playing a leading part, as the noble Lord describes.

Lord Alton of Liverpool:

My Lords, was the Minister’s reply to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, an acceptance that Rwanda has been aiding and abetting not only M23 but the other six rebel groups that have led to 1.4 million people being displaced in the Kivu in eastern Congo? That being the case, why are we not using the £344 million of aid which we are providing to Rwanda as leverage to persuade Rwanda not to aid and abet these insurgent groups, and to do rather more to bring to justice people such as Bosco Ntaganda, who has been responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers, which has led to the deaths of countless numbers of people—a haemorrhaging loss of life that dwarfs even the terrible and tragic events in Syria by comparison?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, no one questions the atrocities and misery of these various armies. I have counted five different armies and groups involved in killing and fighting each other in the region, and there is an extreme danger of this spreading and creating mayhem more widely on both humanitarian and security grounds. That is certainly the case.

As to our leverage, our aid programme is not quite as large as the sum mentioned by the noble Lord. I have a figure of £198 million a year to the DRC, and £83 million a year to Rwanda. Certainly our judgment is that, through that aid, we have the authority and the leverage to influence the situation. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, about three weeks ago, as did my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Development and my honourable friend Mr Bellingham. We all impressed on her and her colleagues the necessity of facing up to the reality, and of Rwanda’s activity, as reported in the Group of Experts, to cease and to make way for a proper solution to the conflict. We are using our leverage and influence in a very nasty situation, but the way we do it obviously varies from country to country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury:

My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to ask a question in this particular context, because I think the plight of the Congo is well known to everyone in this House. The issue of regional co-operation has already been flagged indirectly in what has been said. One of the questions I would like to ask is to do with what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to foster a broader regional strategic engagement involving more than simply the Governments of Rwanda and Congo. As part of that regional question, I am very concerned about a cross-border issue in the region: the plight of the indigenous peoples and indigenous minorities such as the Batwa. Twelve months ago I met the Batwa community in Congo and was dismayed to find what little attention some local authorities, especially by the United Nations, give to their plight. Are the Government aware of this?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

I am very grateful to the most reverend Primate for his question about the regional aspects, which are vital. May I answer him in this way? First, my honourable friend Mr Bellingham, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary concerned with African matters, was at the African Union conference last week and talked to regional leaders in detail all the time. Secondly, we have been promoting the idea of regional dialogue between the countries concerned. Thirdly, we are the third largest humanitarian donor trying to grapple with the situation. Fourthly, there is the matter, which my noble friend raised, of the Great Lakes group and its movement towards the idea of detailed regional co-operation and the involvement of all the key players in the region in solving this problem themselves. The regional aspect is very important, and I fully agree with the most reverend Primate that this is what we should concentrate on.

As to the cross-border issue, which was his other question—

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Howell of Guildford:

I have been asked many questions, which produces many answers. The cross-border issue is very serious and we are looking at it very closely.

Baroness King of Bow:

My Lords—

Lord Avebury:

My Lords—

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde):

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady King, has been trying very hard to get in.

Baroness King of Bow:

My Lords, I have visited the Great Lakes region on 10 occasions over a decade and I have never ceased to be amazed by the resilience and dignity of the local populations and the barbarity and scale of the atrocities visited on them, such as a nine month-old baby who was raped with a military-issue rifle and who then sustained terrible gunshot wounds. Does the Minister agree that we need to hold Rwanda to account, and that we should also hold the Congolese army to account? Could he press for more military tribunals so that we can play our role in ensuring that innocent victims such as that nine month-old baby girl get the justice they deserve?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

Yes. Obviously we encourage the bringing to account of the very evil people who are committing these atrocities; there is no question at all about that. Bosco Ntaganda has been indicted by the ICC, and Rwanda has its own tribunal and court for assessing the horrors of the past. In all other aspects of bringing those involved to account, we will certainly press as hard as we can in the ways I have described in detail to your Lordships over the past five minutes.

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Universe Column

David Alton

August 5th 2012

According to the International Rescue Committee, since 1998 almost five and a half million people have died from war-related causes in the Congo (the DRC). Many have died violently but even more have died from diseases which have attacked displaced people left without sanitation, homes or food. The IRC say that up to 45,000 people continue to die every month. Although this makes the Congo the world’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War, it rarely makes our TV screens or news reports. ‪

The scandalous conflict in the Congo and the haemorrhaging loss of life – often driven by power hungry militias and the pillaging of the country’s natural resources –  dwarfs even the barbarism in Syria. It  exposes the West to two things – the accusation that it considers a life in Africa to be worth far less than a life in other places; and the accusation that it has aided and abetted some of those responsible for this carnage.

‪The worst of the conflict is in the east of the country – especially North and South Kivu. ‪

There are now 1.4 million internally displaced people in the Kivus – including 220,000 new IDPs. Since April 1st around 200,000 people have been forced to flee in North Kivu; and in South Kivu, 225,000 people were displaced between January and March, a 235% increase compared to the same period in 2011.

Rwanda has been accused of deliberately destabilising the region so that it can pillage rich mineral resources, weaken its Congolese neighbour, and ultimate encourage a secession from the DRC.  Last month a leaked United Nations report by the Group of Experts pointed the finger at Rwanda implicating it in what has become known as the M23 Mutiny. ‪

Last April 300 soldiers in the DRC’s army mutinied, forming the ‘March 23 Movement ‘ – popularly called M23. Led by Bosco Ntaganda, a former member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army he was indicted in May 2008 by the International Criminal Court  for enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them as child soldiers.

The charity World Vision, has collected evidence that M23 has actively conscripted children into the latest upsurge of violence. They quote Jean Claver Rukomeza, a resident of Runyonyi, one of the strongholds of the M23 rebellion, as stating: “I saw at least three or four little fighters accompanying each adult soldier.”

Lambert Mende, the Congolese Minister for Communications, has said that “Between March and April 2012, Rwanda recruited around 200 very young children which it trained and sent out as combat troops in M23.” ‪The same Minister has, meanwhile, had to deny reports that the DRC has armed and equipped groups hostile to Rwanda and encouraged them to take part in tit-for-tat reprisals.

The US State Department’s assessment points to Rwanda’s role in precipitating these latest killings: “We are deeply concerned about the report’s findings that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including mutinous elements now operating as the M23 armed group. Any such support threatens to further undermine security and fuel displacement in the region. We are also concerned about the report’s findings that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers.” ‪

The Congolese army has responded to the mutiny by withdrawing units from other parts of the Kivus (an area the size of California) to fight the mutineers. This has left vast areas without security and unprotected. In a lawless and dangerous part of the world this has allowed some of the other militias to capitalise on this situation and, in the vacuum,  opportunistically to seek to impose their control. ‪

‪So, beyond the obvious concern that we should have for the phenomenal loss of life, what has this got do with us? A great deal.

‪First, we are Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor of aid. Between now and 2015 we will have given them £344 million. We encouraged them to join the Commonwealth and we have upheld President Paul Kagame as a model leader for Africa.

‪I have visited Rwanda and met President Kagame.

He had the unenviable job of rebuilding his country after a genocide which claimed the lives of one million Tutus. The shameful failure of the international community to stop that genocide instilled a sense of guilt in Western donor countries. But that has led them to turn a blind eye as Rwanda has restricted democratic rights and, far more dangerously, has become involved in the destabilisation of the Kivus. ‪

So, it was surprising, that when President Kagame recently met David Cameron in London, the incursions in the Kivus did not feature in their discussions. Anneke Van Woudenberg from Human Rights Watch  says that the UK is “worryingly silent” on the deteriorating situation. ‪

After the Prime Minister met President Kagame a Downing Street spokesman initially said: “The Prime Minister made clear to President Kagame the UK’s serious concerns that Rwanda was providing official support to the M23 rebels in Eastern Congo,” She added: “The Prime Minister urged the President to take steps to calm the situation down and build trust in the region.” ‪

‪However, the official press briefing made no mention of this and said that the discussion was simply about development issues and population control  (the Government’s current obsession). ‪

Britain should make our aid to Rwanda conditional on Rwanda desisting from acting as quartermaster in a conflict which involves the recruitment of hundreds of child soldiers and which has led to  death and displacement on a vast scale.

‪But if we should be using leverage with Rwanda we should also be using leverage with the Congo.

‪ Western countries simply cannot justify giving a staggering $14 billion to the DRC when only 1% has been used for security sector reform and MONUSCO (the United Nations peace keepers in Congo), with 17,000 troops, seems utterly incapable of providing the security, without which, development aid makes precious little difference for the suffering people of the Congo. ‪

Boko Haram, the Killing of Christians and Terror In Nigeria – Now Government Targets Homosexuals

Boko Haram, the Killing of Christians and Terror In Nigeria – Now Government Targets Homosexuals

Nigeria
Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

27 Jan 2014 : Column WA200

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that homosexuals in Nigeria have been tortured by the authorities to obtain the names of other homosexuals following the enactment of laws criminalising homosexuality in that country.[HL4711]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are aware of reports that, following the Presidential assent of the Same Sex Marriage Bill on 7 January 2014, a number of men were arrested in Nigeria, having been accused of homosexual activity. We are seeking further detail from the Nigerian authorities.

The UK opposes the criminalisation of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and opposes any discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. We believe the Same Sex Marriage Bill in Nigeria, which received the President’s assent on 7 January, infringes on the human rights of the Nigerian LGBT community and on the rights of expression and association which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by Nigeria’s international treaty obligations. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a statement on 15 January which highlighted our concerns, and the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright) raised this issue with Nigerian Ministers when he visited earlier this month.

Also see:
https://davidalton.net/2012/07/25/the-killing-of-christians-in-nigeria-proscribe-boko-haram/

The Killing of Christians In Nigeria – fifty burnt alive, including a pastor’s wife and children – British and US Governments Continue to Take Action To Proscribe Boko Haram As A Terrorist Organisation

Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group responsible for the violent deaths of hundreds of Christians in Nigeria, has launched another lethal attack in the country’s Middle Belt.

http://www.barnabasfund.org/UK/News/News-analysis/Fifty-Christians-burned-alive-by-Islamist-militants-in-Nigeria.html

Christians in Plateau state continue to suffer brutal violence

Last week Boko Haram fighters descended on twelve villages in Plateau state. Fleeing from the violence, local Christians took refuge in the house of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. The house was bombed and more than 50 people were burned alive, including the pastor’s wife and children.

Pastor Oritsejafor is president of the Christian Association of Nigeria and is seen by many of the country’s Christians as their symbolic leader. He had also denounced a previous bomb attack by Boko Haram on a church. He appears to have been targeted in this latest incident.

Boko Haram is committed to establishing an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim North of Nigeria and has made clear that Christians are not welcome there, issuing an ultimatum for them to leave and threatening to eradicate them from the region.

But it has also extended its campaign of terror into the Middle Belt, where the population is more evenly mixed between Muslims and Christians. On 10 June this year a bomber killed around 10 people in a church in Jos, capital of Plateau state.

Boke Haram have murdered more than 600 Nigerians during the first six months of this year
Nigeria Risks Becomming Another Sudan – where 2 million died after Khartoum declared war on its own people.
Left for dead Nigerians outside a Catholic Church – murdered by Boko Haram

The redoubtable Caroline Cox recently returned from a fact finding visit, on behalf of her charity HART, to the beleaguered Christian communities of Nigeria. Baroness Cox visited Plateau, Bauchi and Kano States and said that “Christian communities are living in siege-like conditions” – with a recent spate of murderous attacks on churches while believers were gathered for Sunday services. Hundreds of lives have been lost.

Carnage and Destruction Left by Boko Haram

Continue reading

Letter To the British Government About Rwanda’s Role in Eastern Congo


Lord Howell of Guildford,
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Dear David,

Following our exchange during last Thursday’s oral question I referred to Rwanda’s support for rebel groups operating in eastern DRC. I am writing to elaborate on the concerns that I expressed.

Firstly, may I welcome the Government’s statement that the elements disclosed by the addendum to the report of the UN Group of Experts on DRC are credible; just as I welcome the Government’s assessment that there is indeed a danger of the situation spreading and generating increasing instability.

I was also happy to hear that the Government accept that you have both the authority and potential leverage to influence the situation through aid and that they were, according to your statement, using this leverage.

However, I wished to ask you for some clarification over how the Government were using this leverage; as well as some clarification over your statement that “the way [we] do it obviously varies from country to country”.

If it is to be understood that, in the case of Rwanda, a more collaborative and less confrontational approach is deemed more appropriate and/or efficient, especially as Rwanda has achieved such satisfying results following the provision of British aid, I would be grateful to learn about the Government’s assessment on the effectiveness of such approach in this particular case?

Ms. Mushikiwabo, similarly to Mr. Kagame, has unceasingly denied all evidence presented by the UN Group of Experts – and still does so following the exchanges that she had with your colleagues and yourself – and claimed on 27 June that the Rwandan Government was in possession of evidence proving these allegations wrong.

I would be interested to hear whether you asked Minister Mushikiwabo to disclose some of this counter-evidence to you when you met with her. I am also keen to know whether the UK Government really does consider that, in the face of such absolute denials, representations are having any some substantial impact?

Rwanda’s support for armed militias, viewed as defending its own interests, and its involvement in the traffic of minerals on Congolese territory has long and consistently been evidenced, including the Report of the UN Group of Experts. They have been pointing out these very activities in each of their annual reports since its inception.

I would be keen to learn the UK Government’s assessment of what they feel can now be realistically expected from further discussions with a government that has been involved in supporting destabilising operations for the entire decade that followed its war with Congo? Isn’t this repetitive pattern, in spite of public denunciation made by the UN Committee and by many other organisations, a sign that soft behind-closed-doors diplomacy in general, and the UK Government’s in particular, has proved ineffective and insufficient? On the contrary, would you not agree that this pattern illustrates that Rwanda feels the preferential treatment it receives from the UK – its principal donor and ally – protects it from any real threat of sanctions, including withdrawal or conditionality of aid?

Their actions, which contravene many rules of international law, as well as bilateral and multilateral agreements, appear not to unduly trouble the UK Government. At the very minimum surely you would want to make some firm and official statement acknowledging and condemning Rwanda’s long-standing support to forces destabilising the DRC and the region?

Rwanda’s actions in the DRC in the last decade following the war have indeed breached the UN sanction regime, the UN arms embargo, but also the principles of non-aggression and non-intervention, the respect for the sovereignty of States – all principles of conventional and customary law – and is also accountable for the crime of pillage of natural resources, while government’s officials are accountable for the war crime of recruiting children.

Rwanda’s actions also contravene the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the UK government, acting through DfID, and the Rwandan Government in 2006 (and that will be applicable until 2016), by which Rwanda’s government committed to “the promotion of peace and stability in the Great Lakes region”. Section 6 of the MoU also states that one of the “circumstances in which the UK will consider reducing, interrupting, changing the modalities of, or terminating aid” is if “the Government of Rwanda is in significant violation of human rights or other international obligations, especially those relating to regional peace and security”. It further states that “the UK will take a long term perspective and is more likely to respond to a systematic pattern of events over time. However, a single event might trigger a response if sufficiently serious in nature.”

I would be grateful to learn the Government’s assessment as to whether supporting an armed mutiny and seeking secession of a neighbouring country do constitute events sufficiently serious in nature.

More broadly speaking, I wonder what message the UK is sending to other countries, especially to other recipients of UK’s aid, if the UK does not in any way enforce or strive to have these agreements and rules enforced?

The necessity to adopt a conciliatory approach with a long-time ally is understandable. However, ignoring blatant breaches of bilateral agreements between partners not only undermines the UK’s authority and credibility, but also ignores the question of accountability owed to British tax-payers.

If, indeed, the UK is using its leverage and influence differently from one country to the next (as you said I your reply to me last Thursday), is there not a risk of double standards and thereby risk undermining the legitimacy of UK’s diplomacy and international relations? Isn’t this approach contrary to the standards of transparency claimed, if not by the FCO, at a least certainly by DfID? I will copy this to Andrew Mitchell so that he can also comment on the role of aid in this matter.

Both the legitimacy and the effectiveness of deploying double standards where there have been breaches to international law is questionable. Although I agree that every case should be considered on its merits, I would welcome clarification on the criteria used by the Government in determining its approach. You will recall that in the case of Sudan
I recently questioned the continuation of a normal full diplomatic presence with a regime headed by someone indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. It would be helpful to have spelt out what factors determine our policy, even when this is on a case by case basis.

Moreover, in light of the destabilising actions leading to incalculable loss of life and to abhorrent and egregious violations of human rights – not, least against women and children – not only supported but also instigated by Rwanda, I would be grateful to learn what assessment the UK Government has made of the impact of such actions on UK’s assistance to and investment in the DRC and in the entire region.

The UK government has indeed invested considerable amounts of aid in DRC alone – almost £200 million a year given in aid to the DRC; £135 million of humanitarian assistance that will be provided for the next 5 years. In terms of peacekeeping, and additionally to our legally-binding commitments to the $1.5 billion a year UN peacekeeping mission, we also provide discretionary funding for programmes undertaken by the FCO, DfID and the Ministry of Defence.

Granting this amount of aid and at the same turning a blind eye to destabilising actions from another partnering country seems to make little sense. I would be grateful to learn the Government’s appraisal of this question.

Similarly, and considering that the UK provides 45% of its £83m-a-year aid to Rwanda through general budget support, I would like to know what steps the Government has taken to ensure that no British aid is provided to armed groups destabilising the region and promoting secession of the Congolese territory.

In this respect, I would encourage the UK government to take similar steps to those taken by the US Government, which has confirmed its decision to cut its military aid to Rwanda. Have you made an assessment of the American policy and do we have any plans to follow suit?

I am grateful to you for your consideration of these questions. In the light of their interest in this issue I will copy this note to Lord Chidgey, Baroness Kinnock, Lord Boateng and Baroness King.

With kind regards,

DavidDavid Alton
(Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool)
House of Lords,
London SW1A OPW

http://www.davidalton.net


https://davidalton.net/2012/07/20/congo-question-and-column-killing-in-the-kivus-continues-with-rwandan-complicity-and-bosco-ntaganda-like-jospeh-kony-continues-to-escape-with-impunity-and-to-recruit-children-while-the-world/

Latest Horrors In South Sudan – latest evidence published of Khartoum’s bombing campaign – Meanwhile it’s business as usual while thousands die and while Nahid Gabralla and other human rights campaigners are jailed

Latest evidence of aerial bombardment of Sudanese villages by Khartoum…

http://allafrica.com/stories/201207210001.html

Government accused of double standards on Sudan – UK Politics – UK – The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-accused-of-double-standards-on-sudan-7922539.html
———————————————————————————
Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations about the case of

Nahid Gabralla

Nahid Gabralla

, the leading Sudanese women’s rights activist, who was arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence Security Service on July 3rd and is being held at Omdurman Women’s Prison; whether they believe this to be retaliation for her role in leading a protest against the trial of Lubna Hussein, the young woman on trial for illegally wearing trousers; what assessment they have made of the routine use of torture at Omdurman Prison; and whether, when they participate in meetings to promote trade and business deals in Sudan, they will agree to alert participants of the treatment of Nahid Gabralla and other human rights campaigners detained in Sudanese prisons.

Congo – Question and Column – Killing in the Kivus Continues – with Rwandan Complicity – and Bosco Ntaganda, like Jospeh Kony, continues to escape with impunity and to recruit children while the world looks on

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question: July 19th 2012
11.06 am

Asked by
Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that mutineers in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo have received assistance from foreign military officials.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford):

My Lords, we have studied the United Nations Group of Experts report and believe it to be credible. We call on the countries named in the report to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict, and one that breaks the cycle of violence.

Lord Chidgey:

I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer, but is he aware that Presidents Kabila and Kagame have agreed that the 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region should work with the AU and the UN to establish a neutral force along the Rwanda-Congo border? Has President Kagame discussed with our Prime Minister which countries are offering to commit troops while Rwanda withdraws its support from the M23 rebels? Secondly, the Tutsi leader, Senator Mwangachuchu, claims that the M23 rebellion resulted from the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga and the indictment of Bosco Ntaganda for recruiting child soldiers and other crimes. Has the Prime Minister offered UK assistance, or has any other agency offered assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco Ntaganda?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

In answer to my noble friend’s questions, yes I am aware of the Great Lakes conference agreement by Presidents Kabila and Kagame and others that they should consider the idea of a border force, but it is still only at the thinking stage. Did my right honourable friend the Prime Minister discuss this with President Kagame when he saw him a few weeks ago? The answer is no, because the propositions of the Great Lakes group had not come forward at that point. The Prime Minister expressed extreme concern at the Group of Experts report that Rwanda might be involved in backing the M23, but other developments have taken place since.
Has the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga created an atmosphere in which the M23 rebellion and breakaway from the Congolese army has taken place? I have to say that it may have played a part, but it is very hard to say. It may have been one of the reasons why Bosco Ntaganda and others retreated from their previous co-operation with the Congo army and have set up a mutineers’ group again. Have we offered, and has my right honourable friend offered, UK assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco, who is of course indicted by the ICC? No, because it is the responsibility of the DRC itself to co-operate fully with the ICC, and that is what we constantly urge.
Lord Boateng:
Given the importance of the African Union and South Africa and their good offices to the future of the DRC, would the Minister welcome the accession of the former Foreign Minister of South Africa, Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, to the leadership of the African Union? Her good offices are going to be absolutely crucial at this time if we are to bring peace and security to that area.
Lord Howell of Guildford:
The noble Lord is absolutely right, and I certainly welcome that accession. The African Union is playing an increasingly positive part in facing up to the regional issues in the centre of Africa and at the centre of its concerns. We certainly welcome that. Obviously the African Union has played a key part in the International Conference on the Great Lakes, which was in the margins of the meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa the other day. It is a very good prospect that South Africa is playing a leading part, as the noble Lord describes.

Lord Alton of Liverpool:

My Lords, was the Minister’s reply to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, an acceptance that Rwanda has been aiding and abetting not only M23 but the other six rebel groups that have led to 1.4 million people being displaced in the Kivu in eastern Congo? That being the case, why are we not using the £344 million of aid which we are providing to Rwanda as leverage to persuade Rwanda not to aid and abet these insurgent groups, and to do rather more to bring to justice people such as Bosco Ntaganda, who has been responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers, which has led to the deaths of countless numbers of people—a haemorrhaging loss of life that dwarfs even the terrible and tragic events in Syria by comparison?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, no one questions the atrocities and misery of these various armies. I have counted five different armies and groups involved in killing and fighting each other in the region, and there is an extreme danger of this spreading and creating mayhem more widely on both humanitarian and security grounds. That is certainly the case.

As to our leverage, our aid programme is not quite as large as the sum mentioned by the noble Lord. I have a figure of £198 million a year to the DRC, and £83 million a year to Rwanda. Certainly our judgment is that, through that aid, we have the authority and the leverage to influence the situation. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, about three weeks ago, as did my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Development and my honourable friend Mr Bellingham. We all impressed on her and her colleagues the necessity of facing up to the reality, and of Rwanda’s activity, as reported in the Group of Experts, to cease and to make way for a proper solution to the conflict. We are using our leverage and influence in a very nasty situation, but the way we do it obviously varies from country to country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury:

My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to ask a question in this particular context, because I think the plight of the Congo is well known to everyone in this House. The issue of regional co-operation has already been flagged indirectly in what has been said. One of the questions I would like to ask is to do with what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to foster a broader regional strategic engagement involving more than simply the Governments of Rwanda and Congo. As part of that regional question, I am very concerned about a cross-border issue in the region: the plight of the indigenous peoples and indigenous minorities such as the Batwa. Twelve months ago I met the Batwa community in Congo and was dismayed to find what little attention some local authorities, especially by the United Nations, give to their plight. Are the Government aware of this?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

I am very grateful to the most reverend Primate for his question about the regional aspects, which are vital. May I answer him in this way? First, my honourable friend Mr Bellingham, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary concerned with African matters, was at the African Union conference last week and talked to regional leaders in detail all the time. Secondly, we have been promoting the idea of regional dialogue between the countries concerned. Thirdly, we are the third largest humanitarian donor trying to grapple with the situation. Fourthly, there is the matter, which my noble friend raised, of the Great Lakes group and its movement towards the idea of detailed regional co-operation and the involvement of all the key players in the region in solving this problem themselves. The regional aspect is very important, and I fully agree with the most reverend Primate that this is what we should concentrate on.
As to the cross-border issue, which was his other question—

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Howell of Guildford:
I have been asked many questions, which produces many answers. The cross-border issue is very serious and we are looking at it very closely.

Baroness King of Bow:
My Lords—
Lord Avebury:
My Lords—
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde):

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady King, has been trying very hard to get in.

Baroness King of Bow:

My Lords, I have visited the Great Lakes region on 10 occasions over a decade and I have never ceased to be amazed by the resilience and dignity of the local populations and the barbarity and scale of the atrocities visited on them, such as a nine month-old baby who was raped with a military-issue rifle and who then sustained terrible gunshot wounds. Does the Minister agree that we need to hold Rwanda to account, and that we should also hold the Congolese army to account? Could he press for more military tribunals so that we can play our role in ensuring that innocent victims such as that nine month-old baby girl get the justice they deserve?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

Yes. Obviously we encourage the bringing to account of the very evil people who are committing these atrocities; there is no question at all about that. Bosco Ntaganda has been indicted by the ICC, and Rwanda has its own tribunal and court for assessing the horrors of the past. In all other aspects of bringing those involved to account, we will certainly press as hard as we can in the ways I have described in detail to your Lordships over the past five minutes.


Universe Column‬

David Alton‬

According to the International Rescue Committee, since 1998 almost five and a half million people have died from war-related causes in the Congo (the DRC). Many have died violently but even more have died from diseases which have attacked displaced people left without sanitation, homes or food. The IRC say that up to 45,000 people continue to die every month. Although this makes the Congo the world’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War, it rarely makes our TV screens or news reports.‬ ‪

The scandalous conflict in the Congo and the haemorrhaging loss of life – often driven by power hungry militias and the pillaging of the country’s natural resources – dwarfs even the barbarism in Syria. It exposes the West to two things – the accusation that it considers a life in Africa to be worth far less than a life in other places; and the accusation that it has aided and abetted some of those responsible for this carnage.‬

‪‬

‪The worst of the conflict is in the east of the country – especially North and South Kivu.‬ ‪‬


There are now 1.4 million internally displaced people in the Kivus – including 220,000 new IDPs. Since April 1st around 200,000 people have been forced to flee in North Kivu; and in South Kivu, 225,000 people were displaced between January and March, a 235% increase compared to the same period in 2011‬.
‪‬


Rwanda has been accused of deliberately destabilising the region so that it can pillage rich mineral resources, weaken its Congolese neighbour, and ultimate encourage a secession from the DRC. Last month a leaked United Nations report by the Group of Experts pointed the finger at Rwanda implicating it in what has become known as the M23 Mutiny.‬ ‪

Last April 300 soldiers in the DRC’s army mutinied, forming the

Child Soldiers in the Kivus

Bosco Ntaganda – indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008 and despite the presence of 17,000 UN soldiers still at large in 2012 and still recruiting child soldiers

Rape is routinely used as a weapon of war in the Kivus

Women are terrorised and raped along with their children

– popularly called M23. Led by Bosco Ntaganda, a former member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army he was indicted in May 2008 by the International Criminal Court for enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them as child soldiers.‬

News reports suggest that M23 has actively conscripted children into the latest upsurge of violence. They quote Jean Claver Rukomeza, a resident of Runyonyi, one of the strongholds of the M23 rebellion, as stating: “I saw at least three or four little fighters accompanying each adult soldier.”‬

‪‬


Lambert Mende, the Congolese Minister for Communications, has said that “Between March and April 2012, Rwanda recruited around 200 very young children which it trained and sent out as combat troops in M23.”‬ ‪The same Minister has, meanwhile, had to deny reports that the DRC has armed and equipped groups hostile to Rwanda and encouraged them to take part in tit-for-tat reprisals.‬

‪‬


The US State Department’s assessment points to Rwanda’s role in precipitating these latest killings: “We are deeply concerned about the report’s findings that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including mutinous elements now operating as the M23 armed group. Any such support threatens to further undermine security and fuel displacement in the region. We are also concerned about the report’s findings that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers.”‬ ‪‬


The Congolese army has responded to the mutiny by withdrawing units from other parts of the Kivus (an area the size of California) to fight the mutineers. This has left vast areas without security and unprotected. In a lawless and dangerous part of the world this has allowed some of the other militias to capitalise on this situation and, in the vacuum, opportunistically to seek to impose their control.‬ ‪‬

‪So, beyond the obvious concern that we should have for the phenomenal loss of life, what has this got do with us? A great deal.‬

‪First, we are Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor of aid. Between now and 2015 we will have given them £344 million. We encouraged them to join the Commonwealth and we have upheld President Paul Kagame as a model leader for Africa.‬

‪‬

‪I have visited Rwanda and met President Kagame.

He had the unenviable job of rebuilding his country after a genocide which claimed the lives of one million Tutus. The shameful failure of the international community to stop that genocide instilled a sense of guilt in Western donor countries. But that has led them to turn a blind eye as Rwanda has restricted democratic rights and, far more dangerously, has become involved in the destabilisation of the Kivus.‬ ‪‬


So, it was surprising, that when President Kagame recently met David Cameron in London, the incursions in the Kivus did not feature in their discussions. Anneke Van Woudenberg from Human Rights Watch says that the UK is “worryingly silent” on the deteriorating situation.‬ ‪‬


After the Prime Minister met President Kagame a Downing Street spokesman initially said: “The Prime Minister made clear to President Kagame the UK’s serious concerns that Rwanda was providing official support to the M23 rebels in Eastern Congo,” She added: “The Prime Minister urged the President to take steps to calm the situation down and build trust in the region.”‬ ‪‬

‪However, the official press briefing made no mention of this and said that the discussion was simply about development issues and population control (the Government’s current obsession).‬ ‪

Britain should make our aid to Rwanda conditional on Rwanda desisting from acting as quartermaster in a conflict which involves the recruitment of hundreds of child soldiers and which has led to death and displacement on a vast scale.‬

‪But if we should be using leverage with Rwanda we should also be using leverage with the Congo.‬

‪‬

‪ Western countries simply cannot justify giving a staggering $14 billion to the DRC when only 1% has been used for security sector reform and MONUSCO (the United Nations peace keepers in Congo), with 17,000 troops, seems utterly incapable of providing the security, without which, development aid makes precious little difference for the suffering people of the Congo.‬ ‪‬

 

London’s Population Control Conference Hits The Wrong Targets (Again)

In the next few days there will be yet another conference – this time in London -aiming to control population. It’s poverty which needs to be attacked not people. When poverty reduces there is a natural reduction in population. The population control lobby will use the usual mix of high-mindedness and scaremongering and fail to mention that their zeal has led to gendercide and coercion, to the elimination of up to 200 million girls and to China’s one child policy. As usual they will hit all the wrong targets.

Continue reading

Doing Big Business (as usual) With Sudan’s Indicted Mass Murderers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCG2PgyXnRM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Subject: Sudan – (Big) Business as Usual and Ineffectual Peacekeeping

Over the past 10 years the UK has done nearly £2 billion of business with Sudan – £1,595m of exports (goods and services) and £294 million of imports. Imports and Exports: Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the trading figures for exports and imports between Sudan and the United Kingdom over each of the past 10 years.[HL264]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Data on exports and imports between Sudan and the UK are shown in the tables below, for goods and services separately. These data are available in publications from HM Revenue and Customs and the Office for National Statistics.

UK Trade in Goods with Sudan
UK Exports to Sudan UK Imports from Sudan
£m £m
2002 71 8
2003 89 6
2004 92 14
2005 140 18
2006 155 10
2007 115 21
2008 142 5
2009 123 18
2010 138 10
2011 121 6
Source: HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics uktradeinfo.com
UK Trade in Services with Sudan
UK Exports to Sudan UK Imports from Sudan
£m £m
2005 29 21
2006 31 46
2007 36 34
2008 62 29
2009 58 28
2010 78 20
Source: ONS Pink Book (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions). Data prior to 2005 are not available. Data for 2011 are planned for release in July 2012

Joseph Kony, Omar Al-Bashir and the International Criminal Court – Question In Parliament

A PoliticsHome page article went online early this morning and can be viewed here:

http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/professor-lord-alton-of-liverpool-why-do-we-continue-to-ignore-genocide/

The article has been Tweeted from PoliticsHome @CentralLobby Twitter feed.

Rob Williams, chief executive of War Child UK has also responded to your article here: http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/exposing-the-weaknesses-of-the-international-criminal-court/
House of Lords
Thursday, 24 May 2012.
11 am
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
International Criminal Court
Question
11.05 am
Asked by
Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in securing the arrest of Joseph Kony, Omar al-Bashir and others indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford):
My Lords, the International Criminal Court relies entirely on state co-operation to ensure enforcement of its arrest warrants. The British Government, together with our EU partners, frequently raise the importance of states fulfilling their international obligations and taking the necessary steps to bring to justice individuals indicted by the court. Those currently fugitive from ICC warrants should be reminded that they, like Radovan Karadzic and General Mladic, cannot evade the international justice system indefinitely.

Lord Alton of Liverpool:

My Lords, given that Kony was indicted in 2005, and that Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted in 2009 for crimes against humanity in Darfur, is now waging a new war against his own people in South Kordofan, does not a failure to bring those indicted to account risk compromising the ICC and bringing it into disrepute? What resources are we committing to the work of the ICC? When a head of state is indicted by it, how is that reflected in the conduct of our economic and diplomatic policies? Either this is genocide or it is not. Either it is crimes against humanity or it is not. Either they are indicted or they are not. Either it is business as usual or it is not.

Lord Howell of Guildford:

It certainly is not business as usual. The noble Lord, who follows these things very closely, is perhaps not taking into account the fact that this system has taken some years to get going. The indictments are out but there are real problems in pinning these people down. He mentioned two cases. We know that Mr Joseph Kony is highly elusive and can slip across borders. At least the Government of Uganda were very successful the other day in capturing his deputy, Caesar Acellam. Uganda is a signatory to the ICC and I am sure that it will fulfil its obligations in accordance with international justice.
As for the leader of Sudan, we know exactly what the position is. We and our EU colleagues seek to keep contact with Khartoum because all the parties—South Sudan, Sudan itself, the opposition parties and, indeed, the Opposition as well—believe that we should do so. However, the problem of fulfilling an ICC charge against Mr Omar al-Bashir is obviously a practical, physical one in that he is not in reach unless he were to leave the country.

Lord Chidgey:

My noble friend will be aware that since April, when Bosco Ntaganda’s rebel troops defected, they have managed forcibly to recruit more than 150 child soldiers and caused 40,000 villagers to flee, thereby causing more chaos in that region. The United Nations Security Council is absolutely clear about MONUSCO’s mandate for its mission in the Congo: it has the authority to assist the Government to arrest indicted war criminals. MONUSCO officials on the ground say that they have not been asked to do anything and are not involved, yet ICC officials have asked the Government to pursue the matter. However, nothing has happened. Overall, this is a case of prevarication.

Lord Howell of Guildford:

It is very difficult to ascertain exactly what is happening on the ground. No one could expect there to be full information, full access or full details. However, we fully support the work of the ICC in bringing Bosco Ntaganda to justice and bringing additional charges against him. I think the implication of my noble friend’s question and the preceding one is that somehow the ICC should have further powers over and above the existing situation in which national Governments have to seek to co-operate and take the initial action. That, of course, would raise fundamental questions about the workings of the ICC and whether we should go back to square one and revise the legislation. I do not believe that we should; I think that we should give the present process more scope and more encouragement. However, I understand what is behind my noble friend’s question.

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead:

My Lords, given that crimes against humanity are defined by the United Nations as,
“a widespread attack on a civilian population”,
does the Minister not agree that Robert Mugabe should be investigated by the prosecutor and subsequently indicted by the ICC? Is it not tragically clear that there is evidence of his responsibility for the Matabeleland massacres in the 1980s that were committed by his army brigade, continued state-sponsored violence against political opponents, and ongoing atrocities in the diamond fields in Zimbabwe? What pressure is Her Majesty’s Government using to ensure that this wicked man faces international criminal justice?

Lord Howell of Guildford:

I do not dispute anything that the noble Baroness has said, with her acute understanding of the situation there. However, the realities are these: Zimbabwe is not a party to the Rome statute and to get an ICC charge against Mr Mugabe would require a UN Security Council resolution. That means getting past all five of the permanent members. We know what the view of some of the permanent members is: they should not take such action. Until we can get past this problem of the permanent five, and particularly the reluctance of China and Russia, to name two, to see these matters taken up by the UN and remitted to the ICC for charges, these people who have committed most unsavoury acts—the noble Baroness mentioned Mr Mugabe as one—are outside the reach of the ICC.

Baroness Cox:

My Lords, is the Minister aware that not only is President al-Bashir indicted by the ICC but he actually deposed the elected governor of Southern Kordofan, replacing him with Ahmad Harun, who is also indicted by the ICC and has since been carrying out systematic slaughter and aerial bombardment of his people, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people? What reassurance can Her Majesty’s Government give to the victims of those policies? I have spoken to people in the refugee camps and—I am afraid this sounds harsh—many have said to me, “Why does Britain not intervene? Our suffering is far worse than that of Libya. Does Britain really only do business with Khartoum and those indicted by the ICC?”. That is the feeling among many people in Sudan.

Lord Howell of Guildford:

With respect to the noble Baroness, that is unfair because she knows better than most of us that the real problem is access. We cannot get access to these very ugly and difficult areas to establish what is happening. She quite rightly mentions that the governor of Southern Kordofan and one other are already indicted by the ICC and need to face justice. The UN has ruled through the Security Council that they should be referred to the ICC, which has issued warrants against them. The question is: how can they be secured and brought to justice in The Hague? That remains a continuous battle. As for the general proposition that we speak only to Khartoum or Djuba, that is not to understand the enormous amount of work we are doing at every level with the international agencies to bring some hope to this very unpleasant and ugly situation.