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Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 22 October 2012, Official Report, column 747W, on terrorism, what action his Department is taking to prevent or disrupt the payment of ransoms to (a) organised crime groups and (b) terrorist groups.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Government maintains a long-held policy of not making substantive concessions to hostage takers because it believes that substantive concessions serve only to fuel the problem and increase the risk to our nationals.

While it is not illegal to pay a ransom under UK law to organised crime groups, including pirates, the UK Government will not facilitate payment and counsels others against doing so. The Government is committed to tackling the strategic threat posed by organised crime groups and in the case of piracy has been at the forefront of establishing international consensus on reducing and avoiding the payment of ransoms to pirates operating off the coast of Somalia.

In the case of terrorist kidnaps, it is illegal to pay ransoms to terrorists under international and UK law. The Government will therefore not pay ransoms to terrorists. This is a tough policy, but the right one since it reduces the funding available to terrorists, and also keeps British nationals safe. The Prime Minister has made clear our determination to tackle the threat posed by terrorists across the world. This includes working with the international community, including through the G8, to provide an intelligent and measured, long-term response to the terrorist threat.

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