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Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 27 June 2006

The Darfur peace agreement was signed on 5 May. Implementation has been slow. Although there has been less fighting between the two parties to the agreement, the Sudanese Government and the main rebel faction, overall levels of violence in Darfur remain high. We are providing practical support on implementation to the African Union and the parties. We are encouraging those who have not yet signed the agreement to support it.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Given the scale of killings, rape, lootings and starvation in Darfur, does he anticipate that there will be prosecutions for war crimes, whether of members of the Khartoum Government, their allies or indeed the rebels? What assistance is being given to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to gather evidence to bring such prosecutions?

Grave abuses of human rights in Darfur are still occurring. There must be no impunity for those who have committed such crimes and those responsible must be brought to justice. We strongly support the International Criminal Court, which is conducting a formal investigation into the situation in Darfur and we will keep the House abreast of developments in that regard.

The Minister will acknowledge that the position in Darfur remains deeply disturbing. The violence continues; the implementation of the welcome peace agreement has faltered and there are appalling reports of brutality and ethnic cleansing spilling over the Sudan-Chad border. Is it not deeply regrettable that the Sudanese Government have so far set their face against a United Nations force in Darfur, and what steps will the Government take to establish a clear and strong mandate for a United Nations peacekeeping mission to help the parties implement the peace agreement and provide security for so many internally displaced people in Darfur?

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The African Union force in Darfur needs to be replaced by a United Nations peacekeeping force, but the Sudanese Government have not yet agreed to that. Kofi Annan has said that he hopes to see a UN force in Darfur. The Security Council has taken a strong line on that and the African Union wants such a force, as do many leading African countries. We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to accept one and will call on others to do the same. This week, my noble Friend Lord Triesman is attending the African Union summit where we shall raise the issue again.