Iraq — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:50 pm on 18th December 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office) 2:50 pm, 18th December 2008

My Lords, on the situation of Christians in Iraq, we utterly condemn any religious intolerance. We condemn attacks on Christians wherever they are—especially, in Iraq, those that took place in Mosul, which caused tremendous suffering, particularly for the Christian community.

I assure the right reverend Prelate that we will continue to press the Government of Iraq to protect all communities, and to take tough action against those responsible for any acts of violence and intimidation, regardless of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. There is, one may say, a ray of hope, for I understand that the Iraqi parliament has just passed legislation to establish a national human rights commission that will seek to improve and embed human rights. It will also have a scrutiny function. The UN will be supporting its establishment, and that scrutiny function will help to ensure that the Christians and other religious minorities have a much safer and more secure situation.

The right reverend Prelate also spoke of the returning troops, and the long-term effects that the difficulties they have encountered might have on them. I reassure all your Lordships that we are closely monitoring our troops when they return from theatres. There are now special units precisely to monitor the troops, and much more action on the mental health front, as we recognise that when people return from those theatres they often suffer mental problems and anguish. They need to be assisted in whatever way is possible, but things on that front are improving, and I assure noble Lords that we will continue to work hard in that specific area.