Palestine response

Following the recent spate of violence in the West Bank and Gaza, I received a large number of emails calling on the government to impose immediate sanctions on Israel, and be clear about what other diplomatic, economic and political tools he will use to help end the occupation and bring peace. Click here to read the response I received from the Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your letter of 1 July to the Foreign Secretary, on behalf of your constituents about Mr Andargachew Tsege who has been detained in Ethiopia. I am replying as the Acting Minister for Africa.

I would like to reassure you that the British Government takes Mr Tsege’s detention and welfare very seriously. We are deeply concerned that Mr Tsege has been held in Ethiopia for the past year without a legal process to challenge his detention, and we consistently raise these concerns with the Ethiopian authorities. We are disappointed that, despite repeated requests at the highest levels, we have only been allowed three consular visits during the past year.

We continue to use every opportunity to convey our strong concerns about Mr Tsege’s welfare. I issued a statement on 25 June expressing deep concern that the Ethiopian government were denying Mr Tsege regular consular access and that he was being held without a legal process to challenge his detention. I subsequently spoke to the Ethiopian Foreign Minister on 30 June, and informed him that the lack of progress risked undermining the UK’s valued bilateral relationship with Ethiopia The Secretary of State for International Development raised our concerns with the Ethiopian authorities on 16 July, during her visit to Ethiopia.
As a result of this lobbying, we have been notified that Mr Tsege has been transferred to a federal prison.

While we welcome this news, the British Government will continue to press and urge the Ethiopian authorities for regularised consular access, assurances that he receives appropriate medical treatment and a legal process by which he can challenge his detention. We are also seeking information about the conditions that he is being held in, and whether he remains in solitary
confinement. We will also continue to press the Ethiopian authorities to grant visit access to Mr Tsege’s partner and his family.

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps

MP Minister of State