§ 21. Mr. Denham
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what methods his Department uses to monitor human rights in other states.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
We gather information from a wide variety of sources in monitoring human rights in other countries. Our missions report on human rights and we share information and assessments with other Governments, in particular our European Union partners. Committees and experts from the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe produce many reports on human rights. We regularly receive reports and representations from non-governmental organisations.
§ Mr. Denham
But is the Minister aware that when right hon. and hon. Members write to raise human rights issues in the context of arms exports and other concerns, we frequently receive bland and uninformative responses, simply saying that the human rights situation is improving, or is acceptable, or is giving rise to concern? Those assurances are often at variance with what the non-governmental organisations in the countries concerned and organisations such as Amnesty International say. Is it not now time to bring proper openness and transparency into our assessment of human rights in other countries—for example, by formally inviting submissions from human rights organisations and others to the British Government, and making a formal response to the concerns raised therein?
§ Sir Cranley Onslow
When the Government monitor human rights in Burma, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that nothing would do as much to restore democracy in that country as the release of Aung San Suu Kyi?
§ Mr. Waller
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for his earlier reply to my question on Pakistan, and I shall forgo a second bite of the cherry.