Since the last oral questions, I have visited east Africa. I have also visited Cyprus, where I met President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader in support of the peace initiative and the UN talks. On 18 February, I met our E3 partners in Paris and also the new Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, to co-ordinate our approach to Iran. Finally, I am sure the whole House will be pleased to hear that the international community has elected not just the first British female judge in the International Criminal Court but the first British chief prosecutor.
The Prime Minister has rightly condemned the UN’s Human Rights Council for its disproportionate focus on Israel, which he said was
“damaging to the cause of peace”.
As the UN Human Rights Council meets over the coming weeks, will the Government commit to voting against one-sided resolutions singling out Israel, including those outside permanent agenda item 7, in order to send a clear message that such blatant anti-Israel bias will not be tolerated?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have stood up for Israel when it has faced bias and, frankly, politicised attacks in the UN and other forums. We will continue to press for the abolition of item 7, because it is the only country-specific standalone agenda item and it focuses on Israel, and that cannot be right.
The US intelligence report released last Friday makes a clear and compelling case that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Last year, the Foreign Secretary said of those with “blood on their hands”:
“You cannot set foot in this country and we will seize your blood-drenched ill-gotten gains if you try.”—[Official Report, 6 July 2020; Vol. 678, c. 664.]
Can he confirm that he will be bringing forward sanctions against bin Salman following this report and that he now finally accepts that it is time to fundamentally reappraise our relationship with Saudi Arabia?
The hon. Lady is a bit behind the curve here. Of course, we have an important relationship with Saudi Arabia on security, on trade and on other things, but the reality is that it was this Government, and me, who introduced Magnitsky sanctions on 20 Saudis involved in the murder under our global human rights regime—[Interruption.] We did it last July. She ought to catch up.
I am, frankly, astonished; I genuinely expected a better response from the Foreign Secretary. He will not stand with the family of Jamal Khashoggi as they seek justice. He will not stand to lift a finger against the dirty money flowing into the City of London. He will not stand with our allies in ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He will not even defend the children of Yemen against brutal aid cuts by his own Department, even as his Government seek to sustain the conflict that they are party to. Last year, we heard him talk tough about standing up to despots and henchmen, but now he tells us that in response to this report he is not prepared to take a single action, will not stand up to corruption, will not stand against humanitarian catastrophe, will not stand up for press freedom and will not stand up for human rights. Is there a single thing that he will actually stand up for?
I again say to the hon. Lady that we were already right out in the lead in imposing asset freezes and visa bans on 20 of the most directly responsible. She refers to the US report. The US has not put sanctions on the Crown Prince, as she well knows. More generally, she will have seen the action that we have taken—[Interruption.] She ought to listen. On dirty money, we have already said, and I have committed to this House, that we will introduce an extension of the Magnitsky sanctions to cover corruption—[Interruption.] She is now going on to talk about Russia. The reality is that we will continue to support standing up for human rights, and I will be introducing to the House Magnitsky sanctions and extensions in the corruption space shortly.
I thank my hon. Friend. We have supported the normalisation of relations, which is a good step around the region. Of course, this also led to the suspension of the threat of annexation on the west bank, which was very important. As a result of that, I was able to go to talk to President Abbas and Prime Minister Shtayyeh and encourage them to resume dialogue on west bank issues, which is very important for security, and to make sure that Palestinian public servants are paid. Plans are at least mooted for elections on both sides—both in Israel and on the Palestinian side. Ultimately, we need leadership from both sides to secure the peace that my hon. Friend and other Members want. We need a two-state solution, and the UK will support all those efforts.
We are having discussions with the Biden Administration on the approach to the proposed US withdrawal or drawdown from Afghanistan. It has to be linked to violence on the ground and to the wider peace talks and the agreements that have been made in Afghanistan between all the local parties, and it has to be based on the delivery of those conditions.
My hon. Friend asks a very sensible question. The UK co-sponsored the World Health Assembly resolution in May 2020 that agreed an investigation into the origins of covid. It is important that that investigation is given the time it needs. The field mission to Wuhan was a key early step in the investigation. Of course we cannot pre-empt findings, but we will look closely at the field mission’s report when it is published. We have been clear that the investigation must be robust, open and scientifically rigorous.
We will of course continue to make sure that we provide vital humanitarian support. I agree with the hon. Lady that the ongoing crisis in Syria is appalling. I think she asked about the Home Office plans for a new global resettlement scheme; that is for the Home Secretary to talk about, but I will—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady is right that it is a diplomatic issue, which is why I fully support it.
My hon. Friend raises an important point. The truth is that I would not be here today if it was not for this country’s proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution. Since 2015, we have resettled 25,000 refugees, with the support of brilliant charities—I always think of Elmbridge CAN in my constituency, which helps new families to settle in. We remain committed to discharging that historic role. The new global resettlement scheme will be developed and launched by the Home Office in due course.
I appreciate that there are concerns on this issue; we have a large Indian diaspora and have had lots of constituents writing in. I did raise the matter with Foreign Minister Jaishankar when I was in India and we discussed it. Ultimately, the situation is the result of a reform agenda that the elected Government are pressing through. It is of course contentious and we have discussed it, but ultimately it is for the Government of India to decide.
The PSVI remains a top priority for the UK Government. Since its launch in 2012 we have committed £48 million and funded 85 projects across 29 countries to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. Of course, the UK’s G7 presidency is an excellent opportunity for us to galvanise support for the PSVI.
I was out in Cyprus recently, as I have already discussed, and spoke to President Anastasiades and to Ersin Tatar, the new Turkish Cypriot leader. That is, of course, the starting point. The most important thing that we need to see right now is for both sides to go to those UN 5+1 talks without preconditions, so that we can re-engage in the kind of flexibility and pragmatism that can see lasting and enduring peace for the whole of Cyprus.
The UK Government have repeatedly asserted our long-held position that we respect the territorial integrity of Indonesia, including the provinces of Papua and West Papua. The UK Government categorically do not support the activities or views of Papuan separatist activists. The presence of some individuals in the UK, including Benny Wenda, in no way means that we support their position. We engage with a diverse range of cultural and political figures in the Papua region, and our ambassador made a visit to Papua in November, when he met environment, education and human rights experts, as well as the Governor of West Papua.
The hon. Lady takes a heartfelt interest in this matter. I have recently spoken to the families of all three British-Iranian dual nationals. Of course, we accept that there is a long-standing dispute in relation to the IMS debt that needs to be resolved, but that is separate from the arbitrary detention of British nationals. Frankly, we should not be giving succour to the idea that anything should happen other than their unconditional and immediate release.
My hon. Friend raises an important issue. Iran’s systemic non-compliance with its obligations under the joint comprehensive plan of action are rightly a concern of the whole international community, particularly the state parties to the JCPOA. Frankly, Iran has a clear choice: return to compliance or face increasing economic and diplomatic isolation. On 18 February in Paris, I joined my French and German counterparts and the new US Secretary of State Tony Blinken to reinforce the transatlantic alliance and concerted action to bring Iran back to full compliance, which is our overriding focus.
The hon. Lady is right to draw attention to the treatment of Palestinians. The reality is that I do not think there is a bar on the use of military systems of justice under international law—let alone under the International Criminal Court system. Indeed, we use a military justice system with some of the highest standards in the world. What is crucial is that there is adequate due process to ensure that people’s rights can be fairly and duly heard.
We are providing ongoing consular support to Mr Taylor. Consular staff have been in regular contact with him and his UK lawyer. The British ambassador in Zagreb met him in December to discuss his concerns and explain the FCDO’s consular functions. I spoke to the Monégasque Foreign Secretary and the Croatian Secretary of State for European Affairs in November and sought assurances that both authorities were giving full consideration to the fact that Mr Taylor is a whistleblower. The UK is a state party to a number of multilateral conventions that require adequate arrangements to be made for the protection of whistleblowers. The UK has made appropriate provisions to do so in our own law, demonstrating the seriousness with which we take our obligation, and we are encouraging our international partners to do likewise. We are, however, unable to protect whistleblowers in other jurisdictions that may not have the same law.