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Human Rights

Volume 208: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make a statement on the priority that Her Majesty's diplomatic service gives to the monitoring of human rights abuses overseas.

All diplomatic missions overseas monitor closely, and report on, the human rights situation in the country to which they are accredited.

If it is being monitored efficiently, the Minister will know of the continuing abuse of human rights in Indonesia, where the massacre of innocent people still goes on. Despite that, the Government have a policy of selling arms to the Government of Indonesia. Is it not time that that policy was reviewed and revoked?

We remain concerned about human rights in East Timor. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Foreign Office issued a statement on 28 January on the tragic events which took place in Dili. We shall continue to make our concern crystal clear to that Government.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that the diplomatic service monitors the abuse of human rights in countries that are recipients of aid from the United Kingdom and from the European Community? Will he ensure also that all future aid packages have strings attached to ensure that we no longer prop up unacceptable regimes which use weapons and aid to suppress the reasonable political rights of their countries' inhabitants?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I think that he would agree that there is a distinction to be made between humanitarian aid and programme aid. In those countries where there is gross abuse of human rights, there would be a powerful case for cutting back on programme aid. Indeed, we have done that in respect of Burma, Sudan and China.