HC Deb 01 February 1995 vol 253 cc1078-80
13. Mrs. Roche

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about his Department's policy on Rwanda.

Mr. Baldry

Our policy is to work with the international community and with the Rwandan and other regional Governments to encourage the return of refugees, to promote reconciliation between the parties, to rehabilitate Rwanda and to prevent a recurrence of the events of 1994 or a destabilisation of the region.

Mrs. Roche

Does the Minister agree that it is absolutely essential that the criminals who were responsible for last April's campaign of genocide are brought to justice swiftly? Will he inform the House what his Department and the Government are doing to support the work of the international tribunal and to help the Government of Rwanda re-establish their own judicial system?

Mr. Baldry

I agree that it is imperative that everyone who is involved in war crimes is brought to trial. That is why an international criminal tribunal for Rwanda was established by a United Nations Security Council resolution last November. The United Kingdom was a co-sponsor of that resolution and we are determined that the tribunal will bring to justice as many as possible of those who were responsible for war crimes.

We shall contribute up to £200,000 to the tribunal in the form of personnel and equipment. It has established a prosecutor's office in Kigali and the question of how many suspects should be tried by the tribunal is a matter for the prosecutor.

In addition to setting up the international criminal tribunal, the UN has drawn up a plan to reconstruct the Rwandan judicial system so as to re-establish a proper judicial mechanism to try any remaining suspects. That move has our support as well.

Mr. Lester

While acknowledging that important work, will my hon. Friend also consider the principal problem of a lack of infrastructure in organising the return to Rwanda of those people who fled the country? Many non-governmental organisations are seeking to work in that country but there is little infrastructure in Kigali to assist them. Will the Minister look at that critical element in the context of our generous aid programme to Rwanda?

Mr. Baldry

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. Of course, to build up the infrastructure it has been necessary for the international community to commit large amounts of humanitarian aid to Rwanda. Last year, we committed more than £60 million worth of aid to the relief effort. We recently announced a further £2 million for immediate rehabilitation needs in the country—the sort of infrastructure needs to which my hon. Friend referred. I can today inform the House that Britain is contributing another £4 million to Rwanda in response to the United Nations' most recent appeal.

Mr. Worthington

The major problem at the moment is instability in the camps in Zaire. I view with foreboding the fact that the contract to police the militia who are now running the camps there has been allocated to the army of Zaire. When will it dawn on the permanent members of the Security Council, especially Britain and France, that unless they are willing to provide the logistical support necessary to back up UN operations, there will be another Rwandan tragedy in the coming year because we have neglected the situation now?

Mr. Baldry

We take seriously the matter of security in the refugee camps; clearly there is a need to find an answer to the security problems there. The way forward must lie in co-operation between the host Governments and the UN. The Secretary-General has asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to make appropriate arrangements to enhance security in the camps. We look forward to studying the proposed arrangements and to considering, with the UNHCR, how best we can assist in implementing them. We shall certainly give our fullest possible support to the High Commissioner and to the Secretary-General in that difficult task.