HL Deb 20 December 1989 vol 514 cc255-6

2.36 p.m.

Viscount Hanworth asked Her Majesty's Governmment:

Whether they will draw attention at the next Commonwealth Conference to alleged abuses of human rights in African states other than South Africa.

Lord Reay

My Lords, the Government welcomed the increased emphasis placed on human rights at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference held in Kuala Lumpur and will consider at the appropriate time their approach to the next such meeting, which will be held in Harare in the latter half of 1991.

Viscount Hanworth

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. However, I think that he will understand quite clearly what I have in mind from the words which appear on the Order Paper. Therefore, I do not wish to ask a supplementary question.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, will the noble Lord agree that South Africa is the only state in the world where racial discrimination is written into the constitution and practised by the state itself?

Lord Reay

My Lords, apartheid is a gross violation of human rights. We seek through peaceful negotiation its replacement as soon as possible by a non-racial representative system of government.

Baroness Elles

My Lords, would it not be helpful to my noble friend if some Members of this House were to recognise the fact that there are such violations on grounds of racism? Indeed one of them happens to exist in Romania at present.

Lord Reay

My Lords, there certainly are all sorts of violations of human rights throughout the world.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

My Lords, can the Minister say a little more about the human rights group which the Kuala Lumpur Summit Conference agreed to set up? For example, can he perhaps say what the proposed powers and responsibilities of that group will be?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have many details about the group. However, as the noble Baroness said, at the Kuala Lumpur conference the Heads of Government did request the Secretary General to convene this working group of governmental experts on human rights. We expect to be approached shortly on its composition and objectives.

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