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Iraq

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how independent international validation will be provided of a discovery of weapons of mass destruction. [114560]

Both the UK and US Governments understands the desirability of independent Validation of any discoveries made by coalition forces in Iraq.We are in discussion with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure such verification.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what opportunity British authorities have had to question Mr. Tariq Aziz; and whether he plans to proffer charges against Mr. Aziz. [114889]

Tariq Aziz voluntarily surrendered to the coalition forces in Baghdad and is currently in custody. The coalition partners have had the opportunity to interview Mr. Aziz on a number of topics and this will continue. It is too early to determine the nature of any criminal charges he might face.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will send forensic officers to assist in the excavation of the graves of those murdered by Saddam Hussein"s regime in Iraq. [114261]

The Government have sent a team of nine forensic experts to Iraq in order to assist with the examination of mass graves in Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the British Government and the Iraqi Government discussed (a) UN sanctions and (b) weapons inspections in Iraq in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [114321]

The British Government had no direct contact with the Iraqi Government over either UN sanctions or weapons inspections in either 2000 or 2001.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 8 May, Official Report, column 855W, on the war in Iraq, what steps he has taken to obtain the original documents. [114394]

We have made it clear that we would welcome any opportunity to subject such documents to expert analysis. Those in the possession of documents or property which do not belong to them, should pass them to the appropriate authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who will decide and upon what basis the body which will validate and exercise destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [114559]

Discussions are continuing with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure independent validation of discoveries made by coalition forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking under international law as an occupying power to (a) ensure public order and safety in Iraq, (b) meet the basic needs of the Iraqi population, (c) protect displaced persons and refugees, (d) respect the rights of detainees and (e) ensure justice in Iraq. [114879]

The UK takes its legal responsibilities as an Occupying Power under the Geneva and Hague Conventions very seriously. The Coalition condemns looting and has stressed its commitment to preventing it. Looting and lawlessness appear to be declining in most areas. In the UK area of operations suspected looters are arrested and detained.UK Police experts on law enforcement and the criminal justice system are advising on the stabilisation of the security situation and rebuilding the police service.The UK has committed £240 million for humanitarian assistance. The Coalition is working hard to address priority humanitarian needs including water, power and food, working closely with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), NGOs, and UN agencies.There were very few refugees arising from the conflict and these were well supported by the UN"s preparedness measures to which the UK contributed. UNHCR are now undertaking planning to arrange an orderly and supported repatriation of refugees, the vast majority of whom pre-date the recent conflict, back to Iraq. Virtually all Iraqis internally displaced during the conflict have returned to their place of origin.Iraqis detained by British forces have been treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US on the time scale for the identification of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [114881]

We are working closely with the US Administration on all issues affecting Iraq including the effort to identify Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The search will continue until we, and the international community, are confident that the former Iraqi regime"s WMD programmes have been eliminated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members of the new local Iraqi Administration in Umm Qasr, indicating in each case their (a) religion, (b) political and major pressure group links and (c) means of living. [114986]

We understand that the process of deciding the composition of Umm Qasr"s local Administration (town council) is on-going. We will endeavour to relay background details when we have them.