HC Deb 28 February 1966 vol 725 cc896-7
33. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will propose at the United Nations the establishment of an international penal tribunal as envisaged in Article VI of the Genocide Convention.

5. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affair whether he will instruct his representative at the United Nations on the Human Rights Commission to raise at its forthcoming session the question of creating an International Penal Tribunal in pursuance of Article VI of the Genocide Convention, to which Her Majesty's Government is now to accede.

Mr. George Thomson

Successive Governments have in the past seen great difficulties in this proposal. I sympathise with the purpose behind this suggestion which as the hon. Members know I have been carefully examining. I am bound to say however that I do not yet see how these problems can be overcome in existing conditions.

Mr. Hooson

Is the Minister not satisfied that it would be most unfortunate to have a repetition of the measures taken to kidnap Eichmann in Argentina to bring him to trial in Israel? Temptations to repeat these measures are bound to exist until there is such an international tribunal as that suggested.

Mr. Thomson

This is precisely one of the difficulties in the way of this proposal. If acts of genocide are committed by individuals without the support of their Governments there is no problem about dealing with them in the national courts, but if acts of genocide are committed by individuals or are alleged to be committed in which there is the support of Governments, there are great practical difficulties about arrest, about getting witnesses, about sentencing and so on. These are the practical difficulties.

Sir B. Janner

When my hon. Friend is considering this matter, will he take into that consideration the fact that certain trials have taken place in Austria and in Germany in which there have been acquittals in one place in spite of convictions in another country, and that the verdicts, in some of the cases were quite derisory? Is it not time that some international court was set up which could be free from the Nazi feelings of some of the people who are still in office in those countries?

Mr. Thomson

The first part of my hon. Friend's question is not a responsibility either of myself or of the Government. I have stated my sympathy with the proposal for an international tribunal and I have tried to spell out what I consider to be some of the practical difficulties.