HC Deb 23 October 1967 vol 751 cc1338-9
37. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Attorney-General what success he has had in obtaining the extradition to the United Kingdom of persons concerned in the piracy of the British aircraft in which Mr. Tshombe and others were passengers.

The Attorney-General

The person alleged to be responsible for the hi-jacking is in Algeria, and there is no extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and Algeria.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Nevertheless, do Her Majesty's Government realise that their obligation does not end with the belated though welcome release of the two pilots? Have not the pilots and the passengers been subjected to treatment contrary to the European Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? What are the Government doing to see that justice is done in this outrage?

The Attorney-General

The matter of claiming damages is one for those affected. It is for them to pursue their legal claims. Her Majesty's Government have done their utmost in this situation to protect both the liberty and the property of British subjects.

Mr. Paget

Could my right hon. and learned Friend tell us what is the position of successor States under extradition law? To what extent do they have the liabilities and responsibilities of the principal State of which they formed a part?

The Attorney-General

I should have thought that as independent sovereign States it falls to them to make their own separate and fresh extradition treaties, but I would like notice of the Question.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Is it not clear that at the very least a serious criminal offence was perpetrated in this British aircraft over the high seas? Is the Attorney-General satisfied that all the channels open to him have been fully explored in assisting those people, British subjects or not, who were passengers in a British aircraft, in pursuing their remedy?

The Attorney-General

I quite agree that a serious criminal offence was committed. If those responsible came within the jurisdiction I have little doubt that appropriate steps would be taken against them, but unhappily they are not within the jurisdiction.

Sir A. V. Harvey

While everyone will be gratified to have the British aircrew back in this country, will the Attorney-General say what steps he is taking to get the aircraft returned? It is nearly five months and we have heard nothing about it at all.

The Attorney-General

The difficulty there is that it is a matter for the owners to pursue their legal claims for its recovery, although naturally Her Majesty's Government have made representations. The problem again in regard to enforcement is that Algeria has not accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. As the hon. Gentleman says, in law there are no powers.