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Pakistan (Detentions)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

11. How many cases there have been of British citizens under the age of 18 being detained by Pakistan authorities while custody issues are considered by the Pakistan High Court in the last five years; and what support the high commission has provided in such cases. (156134)

We are not aware of any British citizens under 18 who have been detained by the Pakistani authorities in the last five years while custody issues are considered. We have, however, provided consular assistance to many British parents involved in custody disputes and child abduction cases in Pakistan. When providing such assistance, we take care that our actions do not contravene Pakistan law and any determination by the Pakistan courts.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I am sure that she is aware of the case of my constituent, Asma Akhtar, who is currently involved in a child custody case in the Pakistan High Court. Such cases are covered by a protocol. In view of the difficulties Asma is experiencing, will the Minister undertake to review the operation of that protocol?

The UK-Pakistan protocol is in place to enable us to come to decisions on children’s welfare in such custody disputes regardless of whether the child is in Pakistan or the UK, and it is operating. We need to keep it under review, and next year we will have an international child abduction conference in Islamabad to promote greater awareness of that protocol on children’s matters and how it can assist in reducing the number of child abduction cases.”