Friday, June 19, 2009

This week

Monday: Saw my GP, got a revised prescription list, and reference for an X-ray of my right knee, which is a minor problem.

Bangladesh Jamaat lawyer Abdil Razzak came to lunch at the House. We discussed the government report on the BDR uprising in February, and the absence of accountability for the deaths of 21 BDR personnel in custody, now said to be under investigation by a civil servant. Mr Razzak thought a High Court judge should have been asked to conduct the inquiry. But most of the time we talked about the War Crimes Act of 1973. The AL government is going to prosecute alleged perpetrators of war crimes in the 1971 liberation war, and needs to bring the legislation into compliance with international standards. They are in a hurry to begin the trials at the start of July, not enough time to consult widely on the amendments needed, and get the legislation through Parliament.

Later, attended the LibDem Foreign Affairs Team meeting.

Tuesday morning, chaired a press conference for Hasan Mushaima, Leader of the Haq Movement from Bahrain. He and many colleagues were released from unlawful detention as a result of international pressure, but some political detainees are still in custody, and the hereditary dictatorship hasn't relaxed its grip.

Lunchtime, Annual Meeting of the Baha'i Parliamentary Group, at which the discussion centred - of course - on the current situation in Iran and its implications for the Baha'i community there.

Shadia Syed, my friend from Bangladesh, came for a cup of tea,

Wednesday morning, attended a briefing by Mark Malloch-Brown on his tour of southern Africa and the situation in Zimbabwe. We are in a mode not of 'wait and see' but of 'engage and see', concentrating on humanitarian aid until we see whether the Global Peace agreement between the Zanu-PF and the MDC is being implemented. As I read it, neither SADC nor the African Union, the two guarantors if the GPA, has any formal plan to review compliance with the GPA in the lead-up the the anniversary of the agreement on September 30, but the parties themselves are due to report back to SADC in August. There will be a review by the EU. Later, joined in a question by Lord Naseby on Sri Lanka, and at 18.00 attended a meeting organised by Justice for Colombia at which the first speaker was the new FCO Minister for Latin America, Chris Bryant. He began in fluent Castellan (Latin American Spanish), having spent time in Chile, Argentina and Colombia, but unsurprisingly, had nothing much to say about UK policy, having just go his feet under the table. I was rather disappointed that Gillian Merron was moved out of the job in the reshuffle, as she's a very competent and effective Minister, but it was a promotion for her to Minister of State at the DH dealing with obesity, smoking and alcohol. Perhaps she can make a dent in the appalling growth of alcohol harm and its huge and ever-increasing cost to the taxpayer.

Thursday, to Oxford for a meeting of the Maurice Lubbock Trustees, and a memorable Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture at the Engineering school, by Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, on Science, Engineering and Technological Challenges for the 21st Century. He painted an apocalyptic picture of the world in 2030, which you will be able to see at Unfortunately, the growth of population, a major contributor to climate change, isn't susceptible to reduction by technological means. He acknowledged that it would require behavioural changes that are improbable.

Today, listened to part of the debate initiated by Alastair Goodlad, Chair of the Lords Committee on the Constitution, on the Committee's Report Surveillance: Citizens and the State. The Committee wanted the Government to comply with the High Court judgement in the case of S and Marper, that fingerprints and DNA samples taken from people who aren't subsequently charged with any criminal offence, should be destroyed. This Government has a dangerous tendency, of which this is an example, to ignore the decisions of the courts when it doesn't like them.

A very pleasant lunch with Dr Shapan Adnan, a friend and colleague on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. And so back to the office at home, to download vast loads of paper from the secretariat of EU Subcommittee F, in preparation for next week's meeting where several directives on asylum and immigration policy, and our draft report on money laundering and the financing of terrorism, will be considered.

No comments: