We, along with our European counterparts, continue to press for Bosco Ntaganda to be handed over for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The UK strongly supports the ICC and we welcome the court's investigations into events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Conflict in the region has been marked by atrocities, and those responsible for them should be held to account.
Our ambassador in Kinshasa discussed the arrest warrant with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for the DRC, Alan Doss. He received assurances that the UN mission would support the DRC Government in carrying out the warrant. He has also raised the question of Bosco's position in meetings with the Foreign Minister. He has sought reassurances that Bosco will be handed over to the ICC at the earliest possible opportunity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the purchase by United Kingdom companies of metals derived from allegedly inhumanely mined minerals in the Congo; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the proceeds from British purchases in the Congo are not used to finance armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. [HL1011]
The UK fully supports the work of the UN Group of Experts who have led investigations into the companies and individuals benefiting from the illicit trade in natural resources. We have stayed in touch with the Group of Experts and have offered as much support to them as possible. But we take our obligations under sanctions very seriously and will not hesitate to support sanctions against any person or company against whom there is sufficient evidence, including UK-based companies or individuals.
We continue to encourage British companies trading in natural resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to do so in a way which is socially, economically and environmentally responsible, and to adhere to the voluntary guidelines set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Our strategy for DRC places a strong emphasis on greater transparency and better management of the minerals sector, including in eastern DRC. We are strong supporters of DRC efforts to fully implement the extractive industry transparency initiative. Together with the World Bank and the DRC Ministry of Mines we are currently developing a multi-year mining sector reform programme, which aims to transform the way the sector is managed and ensure that the Government extend their control over all mining activities in DRC. And our regional Trading for Peace programme is coming up with innovative mechanisms for transforming the mineral wealth in the Great Lakes region from a source of conflict to an engine for growth and stability.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what encouragement they are giving to the government of Congo to ensure that the FARDC, the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has sufficient capacity to protect civilians, especially women vulnerable to violent sexual attacks. [HL1013]
We strongly support the capacity-building efforts of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC), the EU Mission to provide advice on and assistance with security reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo (EUSEC DRC), and the security sector reform measures of other international partners. We welcome MONUC mandate 1906, which has placed civilian protection as its highest priority, and the fact that MONUC has developed a conditionality policy as a means of withdrawing support from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) units implicated in serious human rights abuses including violence against women.
We are also currently working on projects to promote better accountability and discipline among the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) security forces, which are responsible for many of the abuses the population suffers. We are providing about £80 million over five years to increase accountability of the defence, police and justice sectors through strengthened oversight mechanisms, technical assistance and training.
We remain concerned at the prevalence of violence against women and we successfully pressed for sexual and gender-based violence to be a new focus in the work of EUSEC. We continue to support and strongly lobby the DRC Government to implement their policy of zero tolerance against those responsible for sexual and gender-based violence atrocities.
We have repeatedly called for members of the armed forces guilty of human rights violations to be brought to justice. The UN Security Council, including the UK Permanent Representative, raised this issue with DRC President Kabila and DRC Prime Minister Muzito. We continue to push for legal action against five senior FARDC commanders accused of committing sexual violence, who were named by the UN Security Council during their visit.
Since April 2009 we have provided over a thousand FARDC officers with training on a huge range of subjects, including logistics, communications, and leadership, with further courses planned until spring 2010. We have also developed an administration school for the FARDC and refurbished their catering and logistics schools.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with heads of states and governments in the Great Lakes region about creating and maintaining a permanent and effectively monitored ceasefire in the Kivus and across the Great Lakes region. [HL1016]
Any permanent ceasefire in the Kivus will require close co-operation between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. We welcome the recent rapprochement between Rwanda and DRC—including the recent exchange of ambassadors—which has led to greater co-operation and stability in the region. Our ambassador in Kinshasa and High Commissioner in Kigali are in close contact with their respective host Governments and continue to engage on this issue.