Debates between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 13th Jul 2022
Wed 9th Dec 2020
Wed 8th Jul 2020
Wed 17th Jun 2020
Mon 10th Feb 2020
Wed 29th Jan 2020
Mon 20th Jan 2020

Sri Lanka

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 13th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord talks about impunity regarding conflicts past, particularly the civil war. That is why the United Kingdom has led on Resolution 46/1 at the Human Rights Council. When I was last in Geneva, I engaged directly with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, saying that we would sustain our support for it. That remains an important issue, and I am sure it will be a point of discussion when the UNHRC returns in September.

As to the current situation with the previous Administration, including Mr Rajapaksa and other members of his family, countries will make their own determinations but we want the perpetrators of the civil war to be held to account. Equally, we want to ensure that the communities that suffered do not see the conflicts of the past occur again.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the Minister must be aware of the serious allegations of corruption against Rajapaksa and his Government. What efforts are being made to extradite him from the Maldives so that he can answer the charges in the Sri Lankan courts?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I will not comment specifically on the current situation with the previous President—we still await the final formal resignation. As to what will happen regarding his future, determinations will be made. At the moment we are focusing on the economic and political stability which will lend itself to whatever future inclusive Government are formed in Sri Lanka, to allow for full accountability for whoever needs to be held to account.

Covid-19: Support for India

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I acknowledge my noble friend’s work in this respect. She is totally correct: we need to ensure that we co-ordinate the impact and really leverage the strength of the British-Indian diaspora. I assure her that we are doing just that. The noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, mentioned a meeting that took place yesterday. Similar meetings are being arranged to ensure that we meet the needs and requirements of India at the appropriate time. Many people are coming forward to provide support, but it must be the right kind of support at the right time.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the real extent of deaths due to coronavirus is unlikely ever to be known. We have seen television pictures of funeral pyres and patients clutching empty oxygen cylinders. The efforts to assist from the British Government, countries in Europe and the United States are praiseworthy. Is the Minister in discussion with other countries to ensure that help is sent to India as far as it is possible to do so? Secondly, there is a large Indian diaspora in this country that is raising a substantial amount of money to be sent to India. Can his department offer any advice on where such charitable help should be sent so that areas in greatest need benefit most?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. All of us have been impacted by the scenes on our screens of people taking, in some tragic cases, their very last breaths because they cannot get oxygen. I assure the noble Lord that we are co-ordinating our efforts. Indeed, the shipment of the first tranche of assistance went across in co-ordination with our European partners specifically. I suggest that the noble Lord co-ordinates on what he is asking for in the medium and longer-term. The Indian high commission has specific individuals and has identified organisations. That should be one of the first channels or courses of support that should be provided.

Burma: Military Coup

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 2nd February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we are working closely with our allies in this respect. We will look at a range of measures, with the aim of ensuring that the wishes of the Myanmar people are fully respected, including for the release of civil society leaders. We also want to consider measures that move us towards that end. It is a fluid situation, but we are establishing the exact facts on the ground. I assure the noble Lord that we are working very quickly, as demonstrated by our convening of the UN Security Council.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the Minister has rightly mentioned our term in the rolling presidentship of the UN Security Council, where it is possible that the matter will be discussed today. While there is hardly any good word to say about Aung San Suu Kyi, given the way that she has behaved on the expulsion of Rohingya Muslims, there is hardly likely to be any co-operation from the countries of the Pacific zone; China and some neighbouring countries have already made comments that are not very helpful. Has the Minister had any discussion with the countries of the European Union about whether a targeted action can be taken at this time, as with the two generals?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the noble Lord’s last point, there is already concerted European action—specific sanctions on both the general and his deputy. On the wider point on Aung San Suu Kyi, he is quite right that we have had challenges and we have expressed deep regrets, through interactions by the current Foreign Secretary and his predecessors, about her lack of condemnation of the situation of the Rohingya. Nevertheless, she is the civilian elected leader, and she should be restored. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary was due to speak to her on that very issue later this week, but, of course, that is not taking place at the current time.

Malaria Vaccine

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 9th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his opening Answer. Whenever there are cuts in public expenditure, the first things to suffer are projects connected with research and training. I read very carefully the letter circulated yesterday by the Foreign Secretary, where he stated his hopes to provide £10 billion, which takes into account funds to fight coronavirus, Ebola and malaria. Can the Minister indicate what proportion of funds would be available for tackling malaria and ensuring that the valuable work that has already been done is not lost? What is the likely impact of cuts on projects related to malaria in future years?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I cannot provide the noble Lord with specific numbers at this time, as I said earlier. However, we should not only bank but look to strengthen the successes we have seen in fighting malaria. We have provided extensive support, particularly through multilateral organisations, and there are programmes that work well, but some perhaps not as well as was intended. In the ODA scoping exercise, we want to ensure that we get the maximum return from the important steps forward and progress made in relation to malaria so that we can continue to provide the most vulnerable in the world with the support that they need—particularly because, as the noble Lord knows, those impacted by malaria are primarily in the developing world and are often mothers, pregnant women and young children.

Bahrain

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 8th 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, I assure the noble Lord that, as I have said to other noble Lords, we will take a very strong line, as we have before on the death penalty in Bahrain and, indeed, other parts of the world. This case is yet to be decided; I remind noble Lords of that. Our support and technical support have yielded returns, including the review and retrial of this case. The noble Lord asked specifically whether we will be allowed to attend this trial. I believe that the rules of the Court of Cassation do not allow for the British embassy to attend or observe on this occasion. We await the outcome of the decision of the court. I have listened very carefully to the strength of representations in your Lordships’ House, as I always do, and will discuss it with other colleagues, including my right honourable friend the Minister for the Middle East.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I welcome Britain’s position in relation to the death penalty but, with less than one week to save their lives, and in light of the UK’s assistance to the bodies that enabled their torture and sentences, can Her Majesty’s Government confirm that, if they are to make representations in the cases of Ramadan and Moosa, it will be before the Court of Cassation’s final decision on Monday 13 July and not later than that?

China

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 17th June 2020

(4 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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As I have said already, the UK Government have made our position absolutely clear to the Chinese authorities, very much along the lines that the noble Baroness has outlined.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the Minister is aware that, according to Amnesty International, more executions are carried out in China than in the rest of the world. Areas of concern identified by human rights groups include the death penalty, the legal status of Tibet, freedom of the press, and a lack of legal recognition of human rights. Is the Minister also aware of the skirmishes that took place, according to breaking news, at the border between India and China? What is being done to make representations, so that peace will prevail in this area? Perhaps the Minister can place a copy of his reply in the Library, so that we can read about what is happening in the areas I have mentioned.

Taiwan

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 10th February 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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I agree with the noble Lord. Indeed, in preparing for the Question, I asked how many identifiable cases of coronavirus there are in Taiwan; currently there are eight. It is important that it is part and parcel of the solution. I assure the noble Lord that we continue to support representations that the Department of Health has made directly in lobbying for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. We are also working with like-minded countries, including the United States and Australia, to ensure that, at the World Health Assembly which takes place in May this year, Taiwan is represented.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, Taiwan is a democracy, and yet it is being denied recognition by many Governments across the world. We now have a situation, as has been pointed out, where the World Health Organization, which prides itself on promoting inclusive health for all humanity, has excluded Taiwan from its membership and does not allow it to participate in the World Health Assembly. What are we doing with the World Health Organization to ensure that Taiwan has at least a slot in the World Health Assembly at this stage?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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I have always wanted to say this from the Dispatch Box: I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Rohingya Muslims

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 29th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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First, if I may correct the noble Lord, the summit was not cancelled but postponed. As someone who had spent a year and half planning it, perhaps no one was more disappointed than me, but we had a general election and I believe that that was the right call. The new dates are currently being looked at and it is in process. I have put forward specific dates for consideration by both the Foreign Secretary and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, which I hope to be able to announce shortly. On the Murad code, absolutely—we are working with Nadia Murad to ensure that the learnings from the Murad code will be a specific deliverable at the conference.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, some of us had the privilege to attend the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. It was a moving occasion, and the organisers should be congratulated on including in the programme the Rohingya community and the worst atrocities they have suffered in recent times. This should put Aung San Suu Kyi to shame for having asked the court to set aside the allegation of genocide against defenceless people fleeing Myanmar. Will the Minister ensure that adequate security and safety are provided for those who are still in Myanmar and those who wish to return from the refugee camps? There is a danger that lack of action may result in a permanent campsite in Bangladesh.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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While I acknowledge the role of the Bangladeshi Government in providing support to the Rohingya refugees, I assure the noble Lord that we are absolutely committed to the safe, secure, voluntary and dignified return of any refugees to Rakhine. That also includes their rights as citizens of a particular country, which is an important consideration in that respect.

China: Uighurs

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 20th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I believe that China is listening. I have sat in international meetings with the Chinese authorities, raising our concern. As to whether the United Kingdom and other countries will raise Xinjiang and, in particular, the situation of the Uighurs, we have consistently done so. Most recently, we have also called for access to Xinjiang for Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. These systematic and focused parts of our strategy continue. The noble Lord raised the important issue of the use of sanctions. As he well knows, the Government are currently contemplating this. We would be looking to introduce Magnitsky-style sanctions, which are geared at ensuring that those who commit human rights abuses are not allowed to enter countries. Restrictions would be placed on them. I am sure that the Magnitsky sanctions regime will play an important part in the overall mix as we consider our human rights policy globally.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the Minister rightly points out that over 1 million Uighurs have gone through the indoctrination process to be converted into obedient Chinese communist workers. Is he aware that this is brainwashing on an industrial scale? Is it not time that he contacted the United Nations to see whether a high-level delegation can visit this province of China to see what precisely is happening in some of these camps? The latest satellite evidence demonstrates very clearly the destruction and razing of the graves of the Uighur community. Can the Foreign Office address with the Chinese Government the nature of their actions on some of the Uighur community’s secular burial sites?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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The noble Lord raises an important point. I assure him that we are doing exactly as he suggests. Most recently, we called on the Chinese authorities to allow meaningful and unrestricted access to Xinjiang for all UN observers, including Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as I said in response to an earlier question. We have also repeatedly called for this action to be taken forward, in the UN Third Committee statement in October and through our national statements at the Human Rights Council. China is an important strategic partner for the United Kingdom, and our relationship allows us to raise these issues bilaterally. I assure the noble Lord that we will continue to do so through international fora such as the UN.