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Iraq: Mujahedin-e Khalq

Volume 488: debated on Friday 27 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take at the United Nations in response to the Iraqi National Security Adviser, Muwafaq al-Rubaie's statement on 24 January 2009 that the government of Iraq intend to hand over to the Iranian government members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran; and if he will make a statement. (256769)

I should clarify that it was the US, not the UK, who had responsibility for the security and administration of the camp. The US informed us of its plans to hand responsibility for the camp to the Iraqi authorities from 1 January 2009. This has now taken place.

I should further clarify that the Iraqi government have not made any announcement stating they intend to forcibly hand over residents of Camp Ashraf to the Iranian government. National Security Adviser Al-Rubaie stated during his visit to Iran that “we have told the members of PMOI in Camp Ashraf that they have two options. Either they return home or choose a third country”.

Prior to the handover, the US received assurances making clear the Iraqi authorities commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. We understand that in addition to this, the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights has also visited the camp and delivered these assurances to a representative body of the residents. We are naturally concerned that the rights of all those involved in the process are observed and that they continue to be treated humanely and their fundamental human rights be maintained.

Voluntary repatriations to Iran of those residents who wish to return will continue. But there is no evidence to suggest forced relocation of the residents in Iraq or elsewhere will take place.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Iraq to withdraw their reported plans to hand over to the Iranian government members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran; and if he will make a statement. (256770)

I refer the hon. Member for Southend West to the answer provided against PQ 256769. It is the Government's view that there is no intention on the part of the Iraqi government to forcibly return any residents of Camp Ashraf to Iran.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Iraq on the rights of members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran resident in Ashraf City, Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (256771)

The US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities making clear their commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. We understand that in addition to this the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights have also visited the camp and delivered these assurances to a representative body of the residents. We are naturally concerned that the rights of all those involved in the process are observed and that they continue to be treated humanely and their fundamental human rights be maintained. In this regard, we understand that as a result of their extensive contacts the US are satisfied that the Iraqi authorities are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to Camp Ashraf and its residents.

Both the Iraqi authorities and the US had been involved in discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq on the modalities of the hand over of responsibility for the camp. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights also played a key role in overseeing the transition. In addition we understand that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) discusses, on a confidential basis, all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People's Mujahedin Organisation of Iran and the Iraqi and US authorities. The ICRC follows developments at the camp closely and visit regularly.

The hon. Gentleman will also wish to note that, while residents of the camp were treated as ‘protected persons', this was exercised at the good will of the US authorities in charge at the time and was not granted through any legal obligation under international law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ask the government of Iraq to remove all restrictions on supporters of the People's Mujahedin of Iran based in Ashraf City following the recent judgment of the European Court of Justice. (257284)

On 26 January 2009, taking into account the judgment by the Court of First Instance on 4 December 2008, the General Affairs and External Relations Council adopted a list which did not include the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK/PMOI). Mindful of this 4 December judgement annulling the July 2008 listing of the MEK/PMOI, the UK believes that EU member states must observe and respect the court’s judgment in the current review of the EU list of terrorist organisations.

Residents of the camp are free to leave at any time if they demonstrate they have the appropriate travel documentation and finance to leave the camp and take up residence either in Iran or in a third country. Voluntary repatriations to Iran have previously taken place and, we understand, without the returnees concerned being ill treated. Such reparations will continue for those who wish to do this. There is no evidence to suggest forced relocation of the residents in Iraq or elsewhere will take place.

The US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities which make clear their commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. We understand that in addition to this the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights have also visited the camp and delivered these assurances to a representative body of the residents. We are naturally concerned that the rights of all those involved are observed and that camp residents continue to be treated humanely and their fundamental human rights be maintained.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to put in place mechanisms to protect supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran based in Ashraf City. (257285)

I should clarify that it was the US, not the UK, who had responsibility for the security and administration of the camp. The US informed us of its plans to hand responsibility for the camp to the Iraqi authorities from 1 January 2009 and this has now taken place. Both the Iraqi authorities and the US had been involved in discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq on modalities. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights also played a key role in overseeing the transition. In addition we understand that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) discusses, on a confidential basis, all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK/PMOI) and the Iraqi and US authorities. The ICRC follows developments at the camp closely and visits regularly.

The US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities before the handover took place making clear their commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. We understand that in addition to this the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights have also visited the camp and delivered these assurances to a representative body of the residents.

We are naturally concerned that the rights of all those residents involved are observed and that they continue to be treated humanely and their fundamental human rights be maintained. In this regard, we understand that as a result of their extensive contacts the US are satisfied that the Iraqi authorities are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to Camp Ashraf and its residents.

On 26 January 2009, bearing in mind the judgment by the Court of First Instance on 4 December 2008, the General Affairs and External Relations Council adopted a list which did not include the MEK/PMOI organisation. The 4 December judgment annulled the July 2008 listing of the MEK/PMOI, the UK therefore believe that EU member states must observe and respect the court’s judgment in the current review of the EU list of terrorist organisations.