Iraq

House of Lords written question – answered on 21st April 2009.

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Photo of Lord King of West Bromwich Lord King of West Bromwich Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Iraq to safeguard the human rights and safety of Iranian residents in Ashraf City; and with what results.

Photo of Lord Malloch-Brown Lord Malloch-Brown Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Africa, Asia and the UN)

The US held responsibility for the security and administration of Camp Ashraf until 1 January 2009. Responsibility was then transferred from the US to Iraqi authorities. The modalities of the transfer had been discussed by both sides with UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Prior to the transfer, the US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities towards their clear commitment to the humane treatment and continued wellbeing of the camp residents. The US retains a presence at the camp in an advisory/monitoring capacity.

The Government of Iraq have stated that no Camp Ashraf residents will be forcibly transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights visits the camp and has delivered assurances to a representative body of the residents. The International Committee of the Red Cross follows developments at the camp closely and continues to visit. It also discusses on a confidential basis all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MeK) and the Iraqi and US authorities.

While no specific representations to the Government of Iraq have been made, our embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights to make known the level of interest in this issue in the UK and to remind the Iraqi Government of its earlier assurances. In addition to this, as stated by my honourable friend, Bill Rammell, Minister of State for the Middle East, during an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on 25 March 2009 (Hansard, col. 90WH) "the British embassy in Baghdad is pursuing the possibility of a visit by a consular official to Camp Ashraf" to ascertain whether any of its residents might be entitled to consular assistance.

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