Haiti

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Tuesday 12th March 2024

(4 months ago)

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Asked by
Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what support they are providing to CARICOM and the people of Haiti following the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the reported collapse in law and order in that country.

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton) (Con)
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The UK is concerned about the worsening violence in Haiti and the impacts on the neighbouring Turks and Caicos Islands. We remain committed to supporting a Haitian-led political solution. We commend the efforts of partners across the Caribbean and beyond to support orderly political transition in Haiti. We urge all parties to move swiftly to bring much-needed security and stability for the people of Haiti and the region. We continue to support Haiti through our contributions to the United Nations agencies and the World Bank, and are committed to help secure the Turks and Caicos Islands, particularly their borders.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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I am most grateful for that reply, particularly the words “Haitian-led solution”. That has not been the case in just about every other initiative that has been attempted. Just how low Haiti has sunk can be illustrated by the report I just heard of the putrefying body of a patient in a hospital on a bed, alongside another bed where a patient who was very much alive was awaiting treatment. In just such a hospital, my two boys were born. I cannot bear to think of the kind of suffering that the people of Haiti are undergoing at this time.

I am very glad that there is a regional initiative coming from Caricom. I hope that His Majesty’s Government will feel able to contribute in a significant way to the discussions. The diplomatic skills necessary for a good outcome will be considerable. I believe that we have those skills in this country and that the United Kingdom, if it chooses to be involved, will find a great welcome from the Haitian leaders and people.

However, there are lessons to be learned and my question comes from those. I have in my hand an internal document from the United Nations: a cry session after 15 years of failure, in which 2,500 troops were deployed in Haiti to stabilise the country from 2004 to 2019. I will not do much more than read two sentences, if the House will oblige. I can see that I am being asked to wind up; it is the first time I have done this, and noble Lords will just have to be patient:

“The last 20 years of the international community’s presence in Haiti has amounted to one of the worst and clearest failures implemented and executed within the framework of any international cooperation … Instead, this failure has to do with 20 years of erratic political strategy by an international community that was not capable of facilitating the construction of a single institution with the capacity to address the problems facing Haitians. After 20 years, not a single institution is stronger than it was before. It was under this umbrella provided by the international community that the criminal gangs that today lay siege to the country fermented and germinated, even as the process of deinstitutionalization and political crisis that we see today grew and took shape”.


Will the noble Lord give me an assurance that His Majesty’s Government will learn from the mistakes that have been badly made? We are a country that provides money to the United Nations to do this work. Can he give me that assurance?

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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I can certainly give the noble Lord the assurance that we should always try to learn the lessons of history, particularly when we are trying to help with fragile states. This is something I have spent some time trying to think about. I can tell him that we will be making a contribution to the multinational security mission to Haiti. It has principally been established by the United States, which will be providing $300 million. There should be over 1,000 troops, including from Kenya, to try to bring much-needed security. One of the lessons, although it is not the final answer, is that providing basic security will be fundamental.

I will be frank with the noble Lord and the House: Haiti is not where Britain has tried to lead. There are many countries and places that we feel we have either special knowledge of or a special relationship with, or existing partnerships. Haiti has always been somewhere we contribute—I think our contribution is £30 million per year through the international bodies—but it is not somewhere where we have chosen to lead. We have left that to the Canadians, Americans and others who have more expertise. The points the noble Lord makes are very good ones.

Latin America

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Excerpts
Thursday 7th December 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, whom I dare defy the conventions of the House in addressing as my noble friend, for we have worked together for many years on matters of common interest. I should have been in Wales today, but the GWR train drivers are on strike so I find myself here; otherwise, clearly, I would have had to wait another 10 years before having another opportunity to express my views. I hope she will not mind—and I think I know her mind well enough to know that she will not—if I broaden the geographical area to include the Caribbean. I must declare that I have the role of co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haiti.

I particularly draw attention to a recent meeting in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia that took place between 15 Caricom countries and the Saudi Arabian Government, with representation from the very top levels of Government there. That was much-vaunted. There was a huge amount of money from soft loan and development funds for various projects on island republics scattered through the Caribbean. It seems so recently it was China whose pervasive presence in the region we might have wanted to comment about, but Saudi Arabia is making a pitch for it now. Interestingly, of course, it was a sweetener because it not only sought but won the support of the Caribbean nations for the bid by Saudi Arabia to host Expo 2030 and later the 2034 football World Cup. Mutual interest, perhaps, was served.

Also in the Caribbean, we can note that Belize, in the light of what has been happening in the Middle East, has suspended diplomatic relations with Israel. Guyana and Venezuela are caught up in a pretty bitter dispute about a piece of land—it is Nagorno-Karabakh or Kashmir all over again, really—that they might go to war over because there are considerable deposits of oil found there that they are now contesting the right to exploit. Indeed, a contingent from the United States Department of Defense is arriving in Guyana shortly. Since coming into the Chamber, on my iPhone—yes, I too look at it now and again—I noticed that the Guyanese high commissioner is coming here, hotfoot, to discuss with our Government how we might help them in resolving the dispute with Venezuela.

Of course, all that brings me, inevitably, as my noble friend will know, to the island of Hispaniola. It is an island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. What is going on in the Dominican Republic? It is extraordinary: its Parliament has just approved loans of $1.2 billion for a number of projects. It is expanding the number of free-zone companies for example, which bring in a lot of money through the tourist industry. It is investing in infrastructure—a number of projects related to better water supplies are being financed from this loan. Then, of all the things I would never have thought of, in Santo Domingo, which I have visited more than once, it is opening up, as a new project, a second metro line under Santo Domingo to improve transport across the city.

While in Riyadh, President Abinader of the Dominican Republic met with—and I pause for dramatic effect at this point—former Prime Minister Tony Blair, in order to pursue a conversation with him to improve bilateral relationships between the Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom. There is nothing wrong with that. They also discussed the apportioning of water from a river in the north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic—it is on the border, in fact. Rather gruesomely it is the Massacre River, so-named because in 1937 untold numbers—tens of thousands—of Haitians were massacred there as they sought to cross it. So, the water from that river has become contentious, and our former Prime Minister has been drawn into discussions about how to apportion that. Of course, I want to suggest an equal voice and presence in those discussions be given to people from the Haitian side of the river, because it does flow down the middle of those two countries.

Former Prime Minister Blair also talked to the current ad interim Prime Minister, Monsieur Ariel Henry. He is head of government, head of state, head of everything in Haiti: the only person who represents anything in Haiti in these chaotic days. It is a gruesome time there, with gangs and kidnapping and drugs. There is a total breakdown of order and no constitutional arrangements of any kind whatever. I happen to be working with one or two people who are known internationally for having found a way to create a positive future out of chaotic elements. I am hoping that the presence of such people now might just turn things round in Haiti. I lived there for 10 years; I was ordained as a Methodist minister there and my two children were born there. In so many ways, I have taken into myself a desire to advocate the cause of Haiti for as long as I draw breath—which is of course exactly the time that I shall be a Member of this House.

It is so important to realise how fragile all the constitutional arrangements in Haiti have been since it had the temerity to declare its independence, with its slaves overthrowing the French army under the leadership of General Leclerc—the brother-in-law of Napoleon, no less. It was in Haiti, not at Waterloo, that Napoleon’s might was challenged successfully for the first time. But for all that, since then there has been systematic rape, extortion and extraction of all the minerals and other resources of Haiti—raping it and giving it debts that it could never repay. If we talk about reparation—and in the light of Black Lives Matter, that and decolonisation are mentioned quite a lot—Haiti has the first claim. It ought to be first at the table. There is a quantifiable indebtedness or indemnity that was paid by Haiti for its freedom. The Haitian ex-slaves had to pay France for its independence; they had no money to do it with and took out huge loans on the international markets, which Haiti has spent the next 200 years repaying. It is an astonishing piece of theft and dubious politics.

I could go on. If I had 80 minutes instead of eight, I could break all of that down—but who will come to the rescue of unfashionable Haiti? He has gone now, but the noble Lord, Lord Swire, who was sitting over there, was the only government Minister I ever had anything to do with who took Haiti seriously. The United Nations and the Organisation of American States have both failed. There has been no success so far. Something must be done for a country that is 90 minutes’ flying time from America, and all the chaos that reigns there needs to be addressed. I have no proposals or questions to ask the Minister because I am still searching in my head to know how to frame and focus them. However, he is a man of considerable wisdom and experience. He can frame his own questions, guess at my desires and, I hope, begin to give me some hope in the matter.

UN: Individuals Displaced by Conflict

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Thursday 20th April 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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The noble Lord makes an important and valid point.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, I hope that I may make a valid point too, on the noble Lord’s assertion a moment ago on the amounts of money given by the Government to the UNHCR. I am off to Strasbourg on Sunday and will be debating the United Kingdom’s current immigration policy in its migration committee and in plenary. Granted the levels of support that have just been mentioned, I am interested to know why the UNHCR repeatedly, at length, in detail and according to law has set itself so fiercely against present proposals in the immigration Bill.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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My Lords, there can be no doubt that there is an urgent humanitarian need to stop the small boat crossings. The UK Government have introduced legislation to prevent further loss of life by disrupting the business model of people-smuggling networks. Clearly, a system that enriches those smugglers and people traffickers is one that needs improvement. That is what we are trying to do. New approaches to these kinds of issues will raise new questions for the interpretation of international law. The UK will work openly and constructively to ensure that its new approach is fully compliant with international human rights, refugee and human trafficking protections. The legislation is about ending dangerous and unnecessary routes to the UK; it is not about denying protections to those in immediate, genuine need. We will continue to work with the UNHCR, not least through the financial contribution that I mentioned earlier, to ensure that those most in need can find sanctuary in the UK.

Council of Europe: Death Penalty

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Monday 20th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I think we have heard one of the points from the other side of the House. It is extremely important that the United Kingdom is a guardian of the rule of law internationally. We also make the case very strongly that as we ourselves have evolved, we hope that other countries have evolved. In 1965, I believe, we abolished the death penalty. We worked constructively with other countries towards achieving that aim. Of course, the conventions that we set up and create need to adapt and evolve, but the convention to stand against capital punishment and the death penalty is, I believe, the right one, and long may it continue.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare, as a possible conflict of interest, that I am a member of the Council of Europe and this Parliament’s delegation to Strasbourg. Last week, I was in Paris for a meeting of the migration committee. I am delighted to hear the noble Lord’s reassurance of a total commitment, but it does not feel like that from the point of view of the other parliamentarians I meet. Their comments about last year’s Nationality and Borders Act and our current Illegal Migration Bill suggest huge scepticism from them and the UNHCR about the commitment of this Parliament to the conventions of the Council of Europe. Can the Minister give me a little ammunition, since there are no Conservative Members on the migration committee? I am the only defender of British policy—can your Lordships believe that? Is there any way in which he can help us to rebut, qualify or put in a different perspective the current thinking, which is very radical, of the Council of Europe towards us?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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Of course, I would be delighted to. First and foremost, in terms of an immediate response, I have already quoted my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. I would be happy, as I always am, to meet with the Council of Europe and its members in advance of their next meeting to ensure that they are fully equipped with the lines they need about our defence of the ECHR and our membership of the Council of Europe.

Women and Girls: Economic Well-being, Welfare, Safety and Opportunities

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Thursday 14th July 2022

(2 years ago)

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Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, I hear the word and will try to observe it. First, I must express an interest: I have a 20-year association with the Central Foundation Schools of London, for over half of that time as chair of its board. I retired in December but will make reference to this experience in my remarks.

I come at this subject from a slightly different angle. I want to honour those who have fought the fight. In the first instance, I refer to my indefatigable and noble friend Lady Gale, who has flown the flag for such a long time and reminded us constantly that this is not a debate that is finished but one that we are in the middle of. I attended a recent debate in Grand Committee on the Istanbul convention, to which my noble friend made reference in her remarks. Every single speaker in that debate paid tribute to my noble friend Lady Gale, and quite rightly too. When my noble friend Lady Hayter made her final remarks, she referred to the fact that my noble friend Lady Gale was always asking, “When are you going to ratify the Istanbul convention?” It is going to be ratified on 31 July, but I think she hinted that she will now continue by asking, “When are you going to erase the reservations?”, because it is ratified with reservations. It was also interesting to hear in her remarks today about the transference of her gaze, after 10 years asking about the Istanbul convention, to a 10 year-old commitment in the Equality Act that has yet to be dealt with. She is indefatigable. She is a terrier with a bone, and we all need to heed her words.

I want to choose another object for my remarks. Tomorrow, I will be making a speech at the Central Foundation Schools for the retirement of a headteacher at the girls’ school. It is a truly remarkable school in Tower Hamlets, with the strapline and mission commitment, “Educating tomorrow’s women”. The school has 1,500 pupils, 85% of whom are Muslim and hijab-wearing, and who are largely Bangladeshi by background, and a BAME quota of 90%. It is an extraordinary school which has risen to become the second in the attainment list of Tower Hamlets schools. Some 60% of its pupils qualify for the pupil premium and free school meals. English is a second language for so many of them—the noble Baroness opposite referred to instances of that kind—and cultural attitudes within the Muslim community add their own difficulties to finding educational, aspirational models in an outward-facing direction.

That is the school. The headteacher, Esther Holland, is a very remarkable person, and she will step down tomorrow. She has long Covid, and her doctors say that she can expect to suffer from that for many years to come. Her heroism in holding the tiller through this last academic year has been extraordinary too. She has built up a leadership team around her who make it possible for her, with her diminished energies, to have authority at the school while not letting its standards slip at all.

The year 2015 was particularly difficult for the school. In February of that year, three Muslim girls from the nearby Bethnal Green Academy went off to Syria. In July of that year, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act was passed, heightening our awareness of those possibilities for schoolchildren to be inculcated in the sympathies of terrorist groups. Esther Holland has overseen the implementation of the Prevent programme for early intervention in a constituency where the girls come from extremely difficult socioeconomic backgrounds, with extended families and all kinds of other factors. I wanted to use this debate—I hope I can ask for the sympathy of my colleagues here—to pay tribute to a remarkable woman, who in her way is educating women for tomorrow.

I know that I have gone over time and that I should not have, but I have a second slot on the speakers’ list, so I have let the clock run on for 33 seconds. I gladly renounce the time I am still entitled to claim when my second slot comes round, and I commend these wonderful women to the sympathy of the House.

Autocrats, Kleptocrats and Populists

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Thursday 3rd February 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, we are indeed grateful to my noble friend Lord Browne for giving us this opportunity to discuss these important matters. I hope that he and other noble Lords will forgive me for starting in a different place from others, for I lived for 10 years in an autocracy, a kleptocracy with populism pretty much reigning on all hands. It was the 1970s; it was François Duvalier, followed by his son Jean-Claude. I met Papa Doc twice—he died shortly afterwards, but I do not think there was a causal link. Kleptocracy was certainly something I was more than familiar with. The school I was deputy head of had educated Jean-Claude Duvalier. We knew all his inside helpers. I taught members of the Tonton Macoute and of the diplomatic corps, as well as people with no money whose fees were paid by those who had stolen it from somebody else.

In the time available I must speak in headlines, for the democratic world has reduced Haiti to the frazzled rump it is now. From the time of Haiti’s independence, France took it ill and imposed an indemnity that independent Haiti went on paying back until relatively recently—just 20 or 30 years ago. The Americans have played a pretty bad hand in Haiti. I can assure your Lordships that an occupying force of redneck southern marines policing the first black republic in the world left its mark. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, rewrote the Haitian constitution and set up a rigged plebiscite in order that foreigners, previously not allowed to own land, could. American corporations rushed in. Sisal and sugar were exploited, as were minerals and other things. The Haitian national debt was taken from the Bourse in Paris and sunk in Wall Street, and used to leverage loans for a railway system that Haitians did not want but the sugar industry run by American corporations certainly did.

Denmark, Spain and, I am afraid, the United Kingdom played their own bit parts—cameo parts—in the reduction of Haiti to its present state. In particular, a book by a British ambassador in the 1870s vilified Haiti and fed the voyeuristic tendencies of a British readership for a cannibalistic, voodoo-dominated state, which Haiti certainly is not and never has been. I have briefed five consecutive British diplomats who have gone on to serve on the island of which Haiti is a part, and they need to know the full story of exploitation, rape and violation. That is an important aspect of what we are considering now.

I must very quickly say that since the Duvaliers left in 1986, it has been downhill all the way: a President assassinated last July, 250,000 people dead in an earthquake in 2010, 2,500 dead last August in another earthquake, gangs, drugs, insecurity, no democratic norms and no judiciary or criminal justice system. It is simply a mess. I am helping to run the campaign of a man who I hope will soon be the new President of Haiti—God, what a job he will have. After a visit I helped to organise to eastern Nigeria for 12 Haitian leaders just two weeks ago, he was arrested in Miami on his way back to Haiti, interrogated and accused of going to Nigeria to have dealings with Boko Haram—which is ludicrous fantasy—to assassinate his character ahead of the elections, because the Americans certainly do not want him.

All I can say at this stage is that I have become convinced of the situation. I have used Haiti for illustrative purposes because we can think of other people across Latin America and other parts of the world who have been favoured by democracies but turned out to be the kleptocrats and autocrats. With the permission of my noble friend Lord Browne—perhaps I will not ask his permission but impose it on him—I may turn this around and say that I would have loved to have moved that the Grand Committee take note of the impact of countries with democratic norms and values in creating autocrats, kleptocrats and populists.

Refugees: Mass Displacement

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Excerpts
Thursday 6th January 2022

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, I add my voice to all others in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for bringing this debate to the Floor of the House. I would just translate a change in the wording of the Motion from percentages into numbers, so that we can remind ourselves that we are living in a world where 36.4 million children count as displaced persons and 26.3 million people are refugees. These are horrible figures to contemplate.

Faced with the size of the problem, the United Nations is bringing forward its global compact. I am so happy that my noble and right reverend friend Lord Harries, if he will allow me to call him that, has given it such ample recognition. The United Kingdom is one of 181 nations to endorse the programme. Its principles are to be implemented through the more than 1,400 pledges made by Governments, civil society and other stakeholders at the first Global Refugee Forum in December 2019. It offers, as he said, a legally non- binding and readily accessible framework document under which states agree that they will share equitably the responsibility for refugees.

A two-year opening phase of this programme was launched just a month ago in Geneva. It describes itself as offering a breakthrough in addressing some of the acknowledged difficulties surrounding the implementation of the United Nations convention and its protocol. This represents an urgent international response and should be given proper notice. There was scant mention of it, however, in yesterday’s Second Reading on the Nationality and Borders Bill. Yet it is a major attempt by the United Nations to deal with the current state of affairs and deserves to be given proper focus—I hope it will be—at later stages in the consideration of that Bill.

In yesterday’s debate, both Ministers were adamant that the Bill we were discussing in no way undermined the international agreements and conventions to which we are a party. Yet a 72-page document from the UNHCR spells out not only the way in which we in the United Kingdom risk being in breach of our commitments, but how the proposals in our Bill would effectively undermine the complex international structures at a more general level. As an ordinary Member of this House, it seems important to me that somebody with authority and a full understanding of both arguments—the United Kingdom case and the UNHCR case—should explain to the House how to reconcile these apparently divergent narratives.

In my contribution to yesterday’s debate, I urged our lawyers and judges to help us in this regard. These are matters of law, after all. The Bill is proving worrisome to a broad phalanx of organisations in civil society and across the globe. They out there at large, as well as we here in this House, deserve satisfaction as we seek to find our way forward on this matter.

International Freedom of Religion or Belief

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Thursday 8th July 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con) [V]
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My Lords, as I said, we are working on all levels, including through development and our diplomatic engagements. For example, my colleague the Minister for Africa visited Nigeria in April and discussed the ongoing conflict but also the impact it has on issues in Nigeria, particularly on minority faith groups. I once again assure the noble Baroness that this remains very much at the forefront of not just my engagement, in my broader responsibilities as Human Rights Minister, but the direct engagement of my colleagues across FCDO, including my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, it would be churlish not to recognise the provisions made on the matter before us and the reports that have received such positive responses from the Government. They have said that they will encourage, support and monitor the implementation of the recommendations. The pandemic has created an even greater threat to religious freedoms than hitherto. I ask the Minister to give us an assurance that monitoring of religious freedoms is being undertaken, and perhaps even intensified, while the pandemic still rages. Can he assure us that parsnips are indeed being buttered?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con) [V]
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I assure the noble Lord that I have my buttering knife out. We continue to monitor and report. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has been used as an opportunity to further suppress the rights of minority faiths across the globe, but we stand very firm in ensuring that we raise this issue consistently and monitor it quite closely.

Nagorno-Karabakh

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Wednesday 7th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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My Lords, we continue to monitor developments in the region closely. We consider all our export applications against a strict assessment framework. We will keep all licences under careful and continual review. We comply with the OSCE arms embargo relating to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is considered as part of our export licensing process, and we will continue to work closely with Canada. We have issued a number of join statements with Canada, and we will work closely with all like-minded parties to bring an end to this conflict.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, much mention has been made of the Minsk talks, which are now over 25 years old and are about the possibilities of bringing peace—but are without any outcome that we can appreciate—and of various other bodies that have been in conversation with our Government about ways forward at this crucial stage. Azerbaijan and Armenia are both member states of the Council of Europe, as indeed are Turkey and Russia, with the United States on the sidelines as an observer. Would this not be a forum through which, especially with its focus on human rights, we could stimulate a more broadly based response to the present crisis—particularly, perhaps, focusing on the civilian losses, which have been widely reported—in order to get a new sense of purpose in what is a very long-standing dispute?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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I acknowledge the noble Lord’s point on the length of this conflict, and of course we must use every avenue we have to try to bring about an end to the conflict. We continue to urge dialogue and we are clear that the only lasting solution to the conflict can be a negotiated one, but I will certainly take the noble Lord’s point on the Council of Europe back to the department to see if there is yet further we can do within that organisation.

Terezin Declaration

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Monday 27th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, first, I join my noble friend in paying tribute to our ambassador to Poland, who, as my noble friend said, recently intervened on an important issue of legislation in Poland. I also join him in praising the efforts of other key partners, including the United States. When I was last in the US, I met Special Envoy Elan Carr to discuss how we can work together more closely. Finally, I want to put on record my thanks to my noble friend for all his work on this important issue.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Portrait Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab)
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My Lords, frequent reference has been made to “ongoing” bilateral discussions, and we must heed that and take it at face value. However, the general election in Poland has returned to power someone whose campaign proved consistently anti-German, anti-Jewish and anti-LGBTQ. Will the Minister let us know how easy it is, with a Government such as the present one, to have the kinds of conversations that might have outcomes that would prevent us discussing the matter in the future, as we have in the past? While we are emerging from the European Union at this critical time, is there enough energy to focus on this question, when so many other things demand our attention?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, on the noble Lord’s final point, we do engage regularly—most recently, as we heard from my noble friend, engagement through our ambassador produced positive results. We of course look forward to working with the new Government and I assure the noble Lord that at my first meeting with the Foreign Minister we will discuss various issues, including that of restitution.