HC Deb 22 April 1991 vol 189 cc765-6
31. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Attorney-General if he will set out his duties in relation to the conduct and aftermath of the Gulf war and observance of human rights and international law.

The Attorney-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)

As the Government's principal legal adviser, I give advice to Ministers on any matter involving domestic or international legal issues.

Mr. Dalyell

May I ask the Attorney-General the question of which I gave his office notice this morning? What has been the Government's legal and other response to the request made by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan on behalf of the United Nations refugees committee that sanctions should be lifted? Is not it desperately urgent, in view of the sweltering summer and the likely outbreak of hepatitis, cholera and typhoid? If we are to help the Shias and Kurds, do not we sometimes have to talk to Baghdad?

The Attorney-General

It is true that the hon. Gentleman, in his invariably courteous way, gave me notice of his question earlier today. I have to say that the matter is one of policy for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the provisions of Security Council resolution 687, which was adopted on 3 April, and especially paragraph 20, which lifts sanctions imposed by resolution 661 in respect of foodstuffs, subject only to notification to the sanctions committee.

Mr. Winnick

Will any steps be taken with the relevant international bodies to ensure that those responsible for the crimes committed in Kuwait during the terror of Iraqi occupation and the crimes further committed against the Kurds will be tried by an international tribunal? As Nazi war criminals were tried in 1945–46 for crimes against humanity, why should Saddam Hussein be exempted from the same rules? There is undoubtedly a strong case that he should be tried as well.

The Attorney-General

These matters depend upon a clear understanding of all the facts when they become available. The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Foreign Ministers of the Twelve agreed—I think that it was last week—to work towards bringing criminals, and Mr. Saddam Hussein in particular, to justice. It is necessary, first, to have a clear understanding of the facts. The hon. Gentleman will also recall, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, that we do not have Saddam in our power.