HC Deb 06 March 1996 vol 273 cc331-2
6. Mr. Winnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of the arrest of those held responsible for crimes against humanity in former Yugoslavia. [17262]

Mr. Rifkind

We believe that those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law should be brought to justice. We strongly support the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Winnick

Is it intended that the implementation force should apprehend Karadzic and other criminals wanted by the international tribunal in The Hague? Does the Foreign Secretary agree that bringing such war criminals to justice would be a lesson for other war criminals such as those who are masterminding the terror in Israel against Israeli civilians—men, women and even young children? Perhaps they would be taught that, if they inflict such terror, the time will come when they will appear before the international tribunal at The Hague.

Mr. Rifkind

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, 52 persons have been indicted on a charge of alleged war crimes in Bosnia. If IFOR has the opportunity to arrest of any of those 52 persons, it is under a responsibility to do so. I am sure that it would carry out its responsibilities. I agree that any success in those matters would have a salutary effect in other parts of the world.

Sir Patrick Cormack

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that those who have been indicted will, under the terms of the Dayton agreement, be ineligible to stand for any elected office?

Mr. Rifkind

That is indeed the case. It is clear that, under the Dayton accord, an alleged war criminal cannot stand for office in the forthcoming elections.

Mr. Robin Cook

The Foreign Secretary mentioned that more than 50 Serbs and Croats have been indicted before the war crimes tribunal. Does he agree that it is unsatisfactory that only two have so far been arrested? Does he recognise that it is difficult for the public to understand that, with 60,000 troops in Bosnia, it is not possible for IFOR to arrest such high-profile figures as Mr. Karadzic, even when he passes through its checkpoints? Will he urge IFOR to accept that bringing the top war criminals to justice is not a distraction from its work, but central to any hope of restoring peace and reconciliation to Bosnia?

Mr. Rifkind

Yes. I do not think that there is any disagreement about the importance of apprehending alleged war criminals. Of course, there are practical problems that have to be taken into account. People such as Karadzic and Mladic ensure that they are well protected by heavily armed men when they move around. That is a practical consideration that must be borne in mind. I agree that IFOR must use any opportunity that presents itself to achieve their apprehension.