Monday, June 29, 2009

  At the press conference to launch the publication of the Turkish translation of the 'Blue Book' Uncensored Edition, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire; documents presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce, edited and translated by Ara Sarafian. There was a lively discussion, centring on the attempts made in 2005 by British Parliamentarians to engage in a dialogue with Turkish MPs on the authenticity of the documents in the Blue Book, which the Turks had invited us to repudiate. When we wrote to the Turks inviting them to debate the issue, none of them replied, perhaps unsurprisingly considering that hardly any of them could have read the Blue Book. Now that its available to them in Turkish, we have renewed our challenge on their doorstep, and await their reply. Photo by kind permission of Gagik Karagheuzian.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Just back from Ankara, helping to launch the Turkish translation by Ara Sarafian of the Blue Book of 1916 on the Armenian Genocide, see

Also from Hurriyet:


Jun 26, 2009

ANKARA - The Turkish and uncensored edition of the book "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915 ?xC4;~^ 1916," which was earlier criticized by the Turkish authorities for being a wartime fabrication, has been released in Turkey.

The book, also known as the "Blue Book," was originally published in 1916 in English by the British parliament, and delves into the 1915 and 1916 incidents that resulted in the expulsion of many Armenians from Anatolia. The central thesis of the book was the argument that starting in 1915, Armenians were subject to a policy of mass
annihilation in the Ottoman Empire.

The inauguration of the Turkish version of the book was held Friday in Ankara with the participation of Lord Avebury from the House of Lords and Ara Sarafian, a British historian of Armenian origin.

"Years ago, the Turkish Parliament demanded from the British side to withdraw the book but the British parliamentarians asked for dialogue with the Turkish side on the issue. No response came from Turkish Parliament. The publication of the Turkish edition of the book is a milestone in a historical sense for Turkey and I believe a new era for dialogue will be created after this book," said Avebury.

"The Armenian genocide is the only issue that couldn't be acknowledged and solved in the world history but I am sure the book will contribute to the solution of the issue."

Book creates controversy The book, compiled by British politician Viscount James Bryce and historian Arnold Toynbee, has been criticized by the Turkish authorities for being a compilation based on forged documents. In 2005, Turkish Parliament likewise sent a petition to the British parliament, asserting the book was a wartime fabrication and had no supporting documentation. The publisher, Turkish Pencere
Publications, which published the first Turkish version of the book in 2005, was also ruled to pay a fine.

Coming to the conclusion that Turkish Parliament was not properly informed about the book and wasn't entirely aware of the content of the book, the British parliament initiated the publication of its Turkish version and the Gomidas Institute published the Turkish translation of the uncensored edition of the Blue Book in an effort to launch a new dialogue process between the sides on the issue.

Sarafian said with the book the Turkish official thesis on the issue had been opened for discussion.

"The Turkish edition of the book is such an exercise in an effort to re-engage the Armenian issue within a more democratic and open Turkey," he said. "I hope that at least some deputies of the Parliament will reconsider their collective position on the Blue Book and distance themselves from it."

The book was also sent to all deputies in Turkish Parliament and the necessary permission was taken to distribute it to the bookstores in Turkey.

While there we also had useful discussions with the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Democratic Society Party (DTP).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This morning our EU committee examining money laundering and the financing of terrorism met for two and a half hours, completing its examination of the first draft of our report. Its a good committee, with Members from different Parties working together well.

Obviously I can't say what's in the report until its published in a few weeks' time, but when you look at an issue like this where the maximum cooperation is necessary across frontiers, you do wonder how anti-Europeans think we could manage without the EU.

Layer, I joined in a question about teenage school dropouts, asking the Minister whether she had any new ideas about reducing non-attendance by children from the Gypsy and Traveller community, which damages their chances in adulthood. Surprisingly, when the GRT community suffers disproportionately from low secondary school attendance, the subject wasn't in the Minister's brief. She promised to write to me.

Disaster at the ping-pong table! JW beat me 2-0 yesterday in two hard fought games, the first time that's happened for weeks. With a 1-1 draw last Sunday, he's now five games ahead at 119-114.

I'm signing off now until I come back from Ankara on Sunday.

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan

Tuesday: debate on steps the Government are taking to assist farmers in Afghanistan to move from opium poppy cultivation to a sustainable alternative livelihood. Clearly, wheat is becoming relatively more profitable than poppies, and there is a window of opportunity. With 20,000 more NATO troops, it should become a lot harder for the terrorists to coerce farmers into growing the poppies and taxing them to finance their operations. But this year there has also been a new upsurge in the use of IEDs against our forces, and last Friday Welsh Guards Major Sean Burchill was killed by one of these fiendish devices. The Americans are spending $4 billion on coimyer-IED technology, and we need to be assured they're sharing the results with us.

Seminar on human rights in Bangladesh with Abbas Faiz

22 June 2009


Bangladesh war crimes: set up enquiry commission

No one, in Bangladesh including all the political parties, disagreed on the issue of war crimes trial, but the process must fair and accountable. And as a first instance a Commission of Enquiry needs to be set up to ensure the evidence compiled supports the allegation made, that no one involved in the war crimes slips through the net and, equally important, no one is victimised under the pretext of war crimes trial, said Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International at a seminar in the British House of Lords on 22 June 2009, chaired by Lord Avebury, Vice Chair of UK All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group & Chairman of International Bangladesh Foundation.

Amnesty International researcher Abbas Faiz had visited Bangladesh for a month in April - May 2009 and was reporting on his findings. He described the current human rights situation and answered questions. Abbas Faiz said that the continuing extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody was still a concern, though there was no visible politicisation, the independence of the judiciary was still some way to go, while BDR mutiny killers must be brought to justice human rights of the accused must be respected too.

Representatives of the major political parties of Bangladesh were invited to the seminar and took part in the Q & A session.

Contribution from the floor included UK Awami League’s chief Advisor Sultan Sheriff, Freedom Fighter Koyas Chowdhury, Chowdhury Hafiz of AwamiAinjibi Parishad, UK Awami League’s Vice President Zalal Uddin, BNP’s International Secretary Mohidur Rahman and M A Maleq amongst others.

Lord Avebury in summing up the discussion said that the BDR deaths in custody can not be all attributable to natural causes, and the government needs to give far more details about the inquiry into the deaths by a senior civil servant. With regards to CHT he said as the government is committed by its election manifesto, and by statements made by the Prime Minister to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission in February, to full implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords. It would be good to know what specific measures have been taken, or are to be taken before the end of 2009, to this end.

On war crimes Lord Avebury said, the process shouldn't be speeded up at the expense of legitimacy, and the government should consult international experts on war crimes before deciding what amendments are necessary.

Bangladesh’s Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Allama Siddiki said Bangladesh government was committed to human rights of all its citizens and was determined to complete the trial in a transparent and accountable way to seek justice for the victims of Bangladesh War of 1971. The Deputy High Commissioner also said his government had already sought assistance from and were seeking further assistance from the international community including the UN, US and the UK.

In his final remarks Lord Avebury acknowledged the Bangladesh Government’s initiatives and said, “The new government has formidable tasks in their hand, which may need substantial help from the international community. As friends of Bangladesh we would be pleased to help”.


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.


With Davi Kopenawa, leader of the Yanomami indigenous people from Brazil, at the reception to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Survival International, June 10

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One more game 1-1, cumulative (since my last operation in April 2006) 116-113 to JW.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pneumococcal disease

A year ago the All-Party Group on Pneumococcal Disease reported that it kills 1.6 million people a year, about one million of them children under 5. We strongly endorsed the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), under which donors guarantee the price of vaccines so that manufacturers invest in development and production, while developing countries get supplies at much lower prices.(

Yesterday Ministers from Italy, UK, Canada, Russia, Norway and Italy, plus the Gates Foundation, signed up to the first AMC, which means that developing countries will get pneumococcal vaccine at $3.50, compared with the average of $70 at present in the developed world. As many as 7 million children's lives could be saved by 2030.

Royal Commonwealth Society meeting on Indigenous Peoples

From my introductory remarks as chairman:

Looking around the Commonwealth, there are indigenous peoples in practically every member state from the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Namibia to the Innuit of Canada, yet the Commonwealth has no regular discussion analogous to the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, no statement corresponding to the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and no mechanism corresponding to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One wouldn’t expect the Commonwealth Secretariat to duplicate these processes, but perhaps to react to them when they deal with member states. In the last five years the Special Rapporteur has visited and reported on Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, and has produced a series of urgent appeals on Bangladesh, India and Tanzania. All this material goes to the Human Rights Council and feeds into the Universal Periodic Review process, but it seems to make no impact on the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat or the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

Note on the meeting by Ian Orr of BioDiplomacy:

Spotlight on Indigenous Peoples

Chaired by Lord Avebury with:

- Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, Yanomami Spokesperson

- Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International

- Purna Sen, Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat

- Ina Hume, Campaigner and Participatory Media Practitioner

There was a full audience despite the tube strike, with many students. The evening started with a short and disturbing film Mine – story of a sacred mountain on the Dongria Kondh tribe in the Niyamgiri Hills, whose lands have been invaded by the bauxite-hungry Vedanta Resources based in London. Narrated well by Joanna Lumley ( )

Then there were short presentations by the panel. Davi Yanomami spoke at one side with an interpreter from his Portuguese. There was an impressive contribution from Dr Purna Sen ( ), the Head of Human Rights in the Commonwealth Secretariat (but she only has 2 staff). Lord Avebury invited me to ask the first of two questions I had emailed in advance :

“A - People move. When can those who colonise be counted as indigenous people, for instance Maoris and Chagossians? Should it make a difference that the Maoris moved freely while the Chagossians were involuntary colonisers (through the slave trade from East Africa and Madagascar) of French-owned copra plantations?”

This got a particularly thoughtful reply from Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival – He said there were no agreed definitions of “indigenous people” (though some were attempted in ILO Convention 169) Three elements were important. One was the time that people had been the occupants of the land and their development of a distinctive way of life; second was whether they have subsequently been oppressed/ their way of life threatened by the political and military power of later arrivals or a larger nation state; third was their own self-identification as a distinctive people. He and other speakers condemned the UK government’s appalling treatment of Chagossians. Someone suggested that Chagossian refugee groups had so far not had much contact with indigenous peoples’ groups and wondered if that might be a useful avenue to explore.

IHEU World Conference on Untouchability

I am very honoured to have been invited to speak at the World Conference on Untouchability, and to add my congratulations to the IHEU for highlighting an issue which affects 250 million people, mainly in the Indian subcontinent but as you have noted, Mr President, also in Nigeria, Yemen, Gambia, Japan, and Korea. And because of migration from those countries into Europe, there is evidence of a growing problem here, which the Government has chosen so far to ignore, and I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Others are far better qualified than I am to discuss the role of the UK, as a leading member of the Commonwealth, as a member of the UN Security Council, and of the UN Human Rights Council, to raise the question of untouchability and the caste system when opportunities arise. There may be understandable hesitation, no doubt, in criticising fellow members in Commonwealth forums, when it can evoke the accusations of neo-colonialism, such as we have had to put up with from Mugabe. In the case of the Dalits, we seem to be particularly reluctant to criticise or even to join in making recommendations. As an example, I’ve been looking through the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews of India and Pakistan, there was a good deal of solid evidence submitted by stakeholders and the UN’s Special Procedures, but when it came to the recommendations by the Working Group which are supposed to be the end product of the process, the UK was silent on the matter of caste. In the case of Pakistan, our delegation made a general recommendation on the repeal of discriminatory laws and safeguarding the rights of non-Muslim minorities, but the problem actually requires affirmative action, as the first of the Ambedkar Principles for foreign employers emphasises. One sees no echo of that in the UPRs of India or Pakistan, and in the case of Bangladesh, there is a single mention of caste in the stakeholders’ report, and no mention at all in the recommendations by any member of the Human Rights Council.

I wonder if the appointment of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human rights and Transnational Corporations and other business enterprises will act to raise the profile of caste? Professor John Ruggie, the holder of the mandate, says he’s in the market for ideas on how to implement it, and sent a questionnaire to governments asking about their policies and practices, the remedies open to individuals who claim their rights have been violated by corporate policies, and related matters. Very few of the responses indicate that states have any policies, programmes or tools to deal with corporate human rights challenges, but those which do, rely on soft law such as the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises or voluntary initiatives like the UN Global Compact.

Yet increasingly, companies based in the developed world are transferring or subcontracting activities like call-centres and software generation to economies in south Asia, where labour costs are lower and there is an educated labour force with knowledge of English. BT, for instance, has a range of joint ventures in India, is looking for new business opportunities there, and is undertaking studies and pilots for outsourced Call Centres and back office operations based on its experience of software outsourcing in India. Their Statement of Business Practice says that

“BT upholds the UN Convention on Human Rights and the ILO Convention both in relation to its employees, its third party suppliers and supply chain”.

They mean, presumably, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and ILO Convention 182 prohibiting child labour, not 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. But lets acknowledge that BT have made a start, by having a human rights policy that applies worldwide. They have a senior executive in charge of sustainable development and corporate accountability, and their human resources team works on diversity in the workplace.

It would be interesting to know whether they monitor employment by caste, and indeed whether any of the UK’s major investors in south Asia do so. According to a Guardian article on the film Slumdog Millionaire,

“there is no evidence of any Dalits working in the 1.6 million-strong Indian call centre industry” .

Because they are at the bottom end of the pile educationally, Dalits generally don’t have the workplace skills that lead to employment in the multinationals, and when host governments ignore descent-based discrimination, foreign employers aren’t going to adopt affirmative action to get more of them into their workforce or training programme, or even to collect data on the caste of their employees. Since the Indian government clings desperately to the pretence that caste is outside the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in spite of the Committee’s ruling that it is fully covered by Article 1 of the Convention, there is no systematic examination of the issue at international level. It was really disappointing that the Durban Review Conference in April made no explicit mention of caste in its final statement, but at least the High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, said that it was covered by the expression ‘related intolerance’. She suggested that caste-based discrimination might be dealt with by an observatory established as a database to collect information on all kinds of discrimination, and that could be a useful initiative. But what’s really needed at international level is for the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to launch examinations of particular cases of discrimination by descent, which of course is covered by the Article 1 definition. This would include not only caste, but related cases of discrimination such as the Bidoon of Kuwait, and the clans of Somalia.

I now want to ask you to consider for a few moments whether a person’s caste matters in the UK. The Equality Bill, now going through the House of Commons, makes new provisions against discrimination on grounds of age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex, and sexual orientation, but it makes no mention of caste. Why not? Because, Ministers say, the responses to a survey of 20 unnamed organisations conducted over two years ago produced no strong evidence of caste-based discrimination. This is certainly not the view of NGOs such as Voice of Dalit International, Dalit Solidarity Network or the Federation of Ambedkarites, though it has to be admitted that none of them have produced quantitative evidence. The Dalit Solidarity Network produced a study three years ago in which more than half the 130 Dalit respondents said they had relatives who had experienced discrimination, but the question didn’t make clear that the law deals with specific kinds of discrimination: employment; vocational training; provision of goods, facilities and services; management or disposal of premises, and the exercise of public functions. The survey dealt with matters such as segregation in temples, marriage outside the caste and the use of dining facilities, which may well be of concern socially but not in law. The three examples quoted of answers given to the question about relatives were not of the kind that would be prohibited if caste were dealt with in the Bill.
So, if progress is to be made, the Dalit organisations should get together and sponsor an independent professional survey to measure the extent of caste discrimination within fields covered by the Equality Bill among south Asian communities. To put manageable boundaries on the study, it could deal with employment, and be confined to one area such as Southall, and since the Government’s response to the consultation undertook to consult the Equalities and Human Rights Commission about monitoring for any future evidence if caste discrimination, the Dalit organisations might approach the EHRC to see if they would commission and fund the survey. If it yielded solid and reliable evidence within these parameters, it would be hard for the Government to deny the likelihood that a similar pattern existed in other cities and in other fields covered by the law.
In the meanwhile, since there may not be another Equality Bill for years, it would surely be right to add a new Clause to the present Bill, extending its scope to caste, but giving the Government power to bring it into effect by Order. Then if research shows that caste is at least as big a problem as gender reassignment – and there were estimated to be 5,000 people in the UK suffering from gender identity problems , only a fraction of whom undergo gender reassignment, compared with 50,000 Dalits - the clause can be activated, but otherwise it simply lies dormant.
Human Rights Watch and other international organisations criticised the Durban Review Conference, a step backwards from the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, where the outcome document referred to discrimination by descent in several paragraphs. But the Convention itself defines racial discrimination as including any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on descent, and the Committee has affirmed repeatedly that caste systems are incompatible with the Convention. The IHEU has a proud record of leadership too, which it is upholding by staging this world conference today. We need to send a message to the Government, that its time for Britain to stand up and be counted, while the chance is there. Lets make the Equality Bill a first in Europe, which can be a model for the rest of the EU. We will have no untouchability here, and there will be penalties for those who bring the concept or the practice into our country and I hope, the rest of the continent as well.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Another week

We had the very sad news yesterday that our very dear friend Jan Webster had died that morning in University College Hospital. We last saw her in March, and last heard from her when she sent Lindsay a birthday card at the end of last month, so it was shockingly sudden.

Was it Harold Wilson who said a week's a long time in politics? Since I wrote a week ago, the Euro-election results have quitened the Labour rebels, who can see that if they rock the boat, as Hazel Blears suggests in her self-indulgent lapel brooch, and there is a snap general election, they'll all be swept away. If the headless chickens have any sense left in the rest of their bodies, they will lay off, because it could hardly get any worse, with the economic situation improving, they might save a few seats from the wipe-out. In the few weeks of this Parliament that remain, we need to address the allowances scandal, and to reform the electoral system so that it reflects the views of the people. 63% of Conservative supporters, 67% of Labour supporters, and 78% Liberal Democrat supporters now back change to a proportional system.

Meetings this week with:

Dr Brad Blitz, researcher on statelessness.
Ursula Smartt, expanding her magistracy work, but looking for new projects now that she has left Thames Valley University
John Vine, the Monitor for the UK Borders Agency
UK representatives of the Bangladesh National Party, who raised three main issues: their exclusion from Parliamentary processes; lack of consultation over the Tipaimukh Dam, and the alleged murder in custody of key witnesses to the BDR massacre.
Senator Eve Bazaiba Masudi, member of the main oppostion party in the DRC, the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and is also the President of the Congolese Women's League for the 2011 elections.
Hassan Mushaime', Leader of the Haq Movement in Bahrain and effectively Leader of the Opposition. He and many others were released from custody as a result of international pressure, but there are still political prisoners and the repression continues.

Wednesday evening I attended a reception to mark the 40th anniversary of Survival International, and Thirsday evening I chaired a Question Time format meeting at the Royal Commonwealth Society to discuss the role of the Commonwealth in protecting indigenous peoples in member states.

Joined in a question on Thursday, about UK and other foreign asistance to Iraq on rebuilding the infrastructure of schools, hospitals etc, destroyed in the war.

Friday, June 05, 2009

This week

This is the week the government has fallen apart, and of course there has been much talk in the Palace of Westminster about whether Gordon Brown is about to be toppled. The one factor that could have restrained Labour Members was the risk of a sudden election when if the opinion polls are to be credited, half of them would lose their seats. But the process has a momentum of its own, and at a guess I don't expect this Parliament to last the full stretch.

At the same time, events continue as if this was a normal session. Monday I spoke at the launch of Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, a packed event at which entertainment by Travellers was interspersed with the speeches, an improvement on the more formal proceedings that marked last year's event.

Tuesday I attended a lunchtime presentation by Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News, and his colleagues from BBC World Service radio, BBC Monitoring, BBC World television and the BBC's international facing online news services. I'm a huge fan of their operations and particularly BBC Monitoring, an essential source for everyone who needs to keep up with foreign affairs. Then joined in Sue Miller's Question about the retention of photos taken of peaceful demonstrators who aren't charged with any offence. There are specific guidelines the police observe on the taking of photos, but none on how long or under what circumstances they are held.

Wednesday morning, EU Subcommittee F, scrutiny of European justice and home affairs legislation, and after questions, I chaired a meeting with Members of the Pan African Parliament. This institution has prestige, but insufficient resources to do as much as it would like. It could play a useful role for instance in dispute resolution between African member states.

Thursday I was geared up to ask a supplementary on the use of shari'a law in England and Wales, but the time ran out before I could get in. There is nothing to stop people using the shari'a courts as a form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution, but if the parties then disagree about implementation, the matter has to be settled in accordance with the law of England.

Since the last ping-pong total JW and I have had four games 1-1 each time so its now 115-112 to him.