HC Deb 20 February 1985 vol 73 cc1017-8
1. Mr. Chris Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made any representations to the Government of Guatemala over violations of human rights.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tim Renton)

In the absence of official relations with Guatemala we have no means of expressing our concern directly to the Guatemalan Government. But we have repeatedly expressed disquiet during United Nations debates at reports on human rights abuses in Guatemala, and we continue to support efforts by the United Nations to bring about an improvement in the situation. On 14 December 1984 the United Kingdom voted in favour of a United Nations resolution which reiterated great concern about human rights in Guatemala.

Mr. Smith

Has the hon. Gentleman seen and considered the findings of the British parliamentary human rights group report on its visit to Guatemala, which was published in October 1984? In particular, has he seen the distressing finding in that report that the killings and disappearances have continued, and there has been no significant improvement in the human rights situation —if anything, it has worsened since 1983"? In the light of that, has the hon. Gentleman made any representations to the Government of the United States to urge them to abandon their current proposals to reestablish military links with and military aid to Guatemala.

Mr. Renton

Yes, I have seen the report to which the hon. Gentleman referred—"Bitter and cruel". We share the concern expressed in that report about the continuing human rights violations in Guatemala. It is worth pointing out that Lord Colville, the rapporteur, on whose views the United Nations recommendations and resolution were based, does, on the contrary, see some improvement in the situation in Guatemala. But we have continued regularly to express our concern to the United States, particularly about the possible consequences of any military aid to Guatemala and the effect that that would have on our garrison in Belize.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Have the Government sought to prevent arms sales to Guatemala by British companies, and, if so, with what success?

Mr. Renton

As I said in my first answer, as we have no diplomatic relations with Guatemala we cannot make any representations directly to Guatemala, but one of the things that the United Nations resolution called for, which we firmly supported, was that there should be no military aid to Guatemala.

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