HC Deb 09 January 2003 vol 397 cc293-4W
Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the(a) Landmines Act 1998 and (b) Ottawa Treaty permits United Kingdom armed forces or other British nationals acting in consort with the armed forces of another state to handle or otherwise provide support for the deployment of landmines. [89017]

Mr. Ingram

Under the Ottawa Convention, each State Party undertakes, inter alia, never under any circumstances to use anti-personnel mines (APM) or to assist, encourage or induce, in any way anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party to the Convention. On ratification of the Convention, the United Kingdom made a statement of understanding of our obligations indicating that the mere participation in the planning or execution of operations, exercises or other military activity by the UK's Armed Forces, or individual UK nationals, conducted in combination with armed forces of States not party to the Ottawa Convention, which engage in activity prohibited by that Convention, is not, by itself, assistance, encouragement or inducement".

This statement of understanding is reflected in section 5 of the Landmines Act 1998, which is designed to provide a defence to members of the armed forces in cases which would fall within the terms of the statement.

Our obligations under the Ottawa Convention are fulfilled not only through the Landmines Act but through training and instruction of the armed forces. Personnel are instructed that, as well as not being permitted to lay APM, they may not seek benefit from the use of APM by allies who are not bound by the Ottawa Convention by requesting the use of APM in direct support of UK forces. Moreover, UK forces may not engage in any physical activities specifically related to the emplacement of APM by allies not bound by the Ottawa Convention.

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