HC Deb 29 November 1995 vol 267 cc1179-80
2. Mr. Mark Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Nigeria concerning human rights in that country. [851]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

We support the unprecedented decision of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland to suspend Nigeria's membership. We also agreed with our European Union partners on 20 November a range of additional measures to mark our concern.

Mr. Robinson

The abuse of human rights in Nigeria has gone on far too long. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree with me that the Harare declaration, which the Prime Minister pioneered two years ago, has been most important in bringing the Commonwealth states together in their condemnation of the regime in Nigeria?

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is correct. The Harare declaration was important in itself. However, the suspension of Nigeria for human rights reasons emphasises that the declaration was not simply a form of rhetoric but that it led to significant action.

Mr. Robin Cook

Can the Secretary of State confirm that, in June this year, the Government gave a licence for the export of CS gas and rubber bullets to Nigeria? If he feels unable to confirm any individual sale, can he at least confirm that such products can no longer be exported under the new terms of the arms embargo? Does he agree that the most comprehensive arms embargo would be to cut off the cash flow from oil to the Nigerian military? At Monday's meeting of the Council of Ministers, will he support the German and Swedish proposal for an examination of the impact of oil sanctions on the Nigerian Government?

Mr. Rifkind

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I cannot comment on a specific licence application, but I can certainly confirm that, as a result of the total arms embargo now imposed, no weapons of any kind can be provided to the Nigerians so long as that embargo continues. We have not excluded the possibility of oil sanctions. It is important for the hon. Gentleman to remember that the major importer of Nigerian oil—40 or 50 per cent.—is the United States. It is therefore important to see whether there is a likelihood of unanimity for such an imposition in the Security Council. We have not ruled it out. It deserves further consideration.