HL Deb 02 July 2003 vol 650 cc100-1WA
Lord Howell of Guildford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the United Kingdom has now signed an agreement with Afghanistan to protect all peacekeepers who are British nationals from surrender to the International Criminal Court when it begins operations on 16 June; and how many other European states have signed similar agreements to protect their nationals. [HL3309]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

On 4 January 2002 the British Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) signed a Military Technical Agreement with the Afghan Interim Administration for the protection of ISAF personnel.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the ISAF rather than in a national capacity. Other European states contributing personnel to the ISAF both at the time and since are covered by the agreement.

The agreement provides that "ISAF and supporting personnel, including associated liaison personnel, may not be surrendered to or transferred to the custody of an international tribunal or other entity or state without the express consent of the contributing state".

This is not inconsistent with the UK's commitment to co-operate with the ICC. The ICC's jurisdiction complements that of the states parties to the Rome Statute which set up the ICC. The UK is conscientious in enforcing respect for international humanitarian law among its service personnel. It is inconceivable that the UK would be unable or unwilling (as defined in Article 17 of the Rome Statute) to make its own investigation of an alleged offence within Afghanistan by a British member of ISAF, which might otherwise fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.