14. Mr. Robert Ainsworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights in respect of relations with India.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd)
During my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's visit to India in January the Indian Prime Minister assured us of three things: that he attached importance to respect for human rights, that allegations of human rights abuses were investigated, and that those responsible for wrongdoing were punished.
I am sure that we join the Minister in welcoming those moves and the proposals by the Indian Government to set up a human rights commission. However, until the Indian Government are prepared to open up the entire country to international organisations such as Amnesty International, there will never be confidence on human rights issues; stories of human rights abuses will continue to trouble people here and abroad. Will the Government continue to press the Indian Government to open up the entire country to the scrutiny of those international organisations?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
We do press the Indian Government on that. The hon. Gentleman may be aware that the Indian Government are in touch with Amnesty International and India will be open to visits by its representatives, except in areas where their presence may cause tension.
§ Mr. Jessel
As the most important human right is the right to stay alive, and as India has an entirely exceptional problem with terrorism, which causes death, and as the 937 Indian Government are quick to investigate and punish acts of violence, should not India have the complete understanding and sympathy of the House?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
As my hon. Friend suggests, it is most important that we recognise that human rights abuses and tragedies in India have most certainly occurred through terrorism, but terrorists are not accountable to the democratically elected people, whereas the Indian security forces are.