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Iraq: Peace Keeping Operations

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made since July 2006 towards achieving the priorities and aims of rule of law development in the Iraqi provinces of (a) Al Basrah, (b) Al Muthanna, (c) Dhi Qar and (d) Maysan; what (i) human and (ii) financial resources the UK Government has committed to this development; and if she will make a statement. (132519)

In Dhi Qar, Muthanna and Maysan security responsibility has now all been transferred to the Iraqi authorities. Until late 2006, British police advisers were mentoring and advising police officers in Al Muthana, Dhi Qar and Maysan. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) continue to offer support, but they are run by coalition allies rather than the UK. No UK financial resources are currently committed to support the rule of law in these provinces.

In Basra, the Multinational Division (South East) Security Sector Reform team, the consulate’s civilian police and prisons teams and the PRT work with the Iraqi police, prison service and judiciary to support the rule of law in Basra. Over 80 per cent. of Basra’s police stations have been assessed as largely or fully capable of carrying out basic policing duties, a significant increase on the July 2006 figure. The prisons adviser is training local prison officers and advising on the recruitment of new prison officers to staff a new central prison in Basra. The PRT is building the investigative skills of judges and others involved in the judicial process. The PRT is also assisting with the design and construction of an additional courthouse for Basra.

The results of the whole effort can be seen in the improvements in specialist police units, the action taken against some former police officers accused of abuse, and the building projects under way to improve the infrastructure.

The UK provides three staff to work solely on the rule of law with the Basra PRT, 31 police officers and former police officers, and one HM Prison Service officer. The broader military efforts are not included in the estimated cost of £18 million for our rule of law activities in Basra for the current financial year.