HL Deb 21 February 2005 vol 669 cc151-2WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what ways they and their allies are working to restore the criminal justice systems of Afghanistan and Iraq; and what categories of crime can be referred to the International Criminal Court from each of these countries. [HL1171]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The UK has provided £2 million to support capacity building in and modernisation of the Afghan Ministry of Justice under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Justice Sector Reform Programme. We have helped establish policy and communication units to make key decisions on justice issues and to co-ordinate activities between the Ministry of Justice and provincial authorities. The construction and refurbishment of provincial and district court buildings is well under way.

As part of the UK's long-term support for the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, we are providing £1.1 million over two years to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) project to enhance the ability of the criminal justice system quickly to deal with counter-narcotics cases. We are co-ordinating closely with Italy, which has the international lead on criminal justice reform in Afghanistan, the US, Norway and other international partners.

This work includes the training and mentoring of a criminal justice task force of up to 77 investigators, prosecutors and judges, which will work towards convictions of medium value traffickers by the end of the year. While working with the Afghans and the US on an interim detention facility, the UNODC project will result in a secure court and prison facility, on which an Her Majesty's Prison Service adviser has made recommendations. We are also doing additional work with Italy and other partners to strengthen the counter-narcotics law and the criminal procedural code.

Afghanistan is a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Therefore the court may exercise jurisdiction with respect to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed there after 1 May 2003 when the statute entered into force for Afghanistan or after 1 July 2002 if Afghanistan were to make an appropriate declaration.

We are helping the Iraqi Government to rebuild their legal infrastructure by providing training in a number of areas. The Department for International Development is providing over £2 million to train judges, prosecutors and lawyers to increase independence, professionalism and respect for human rights and to support the strengthening of the Iraqi Bar Association. We are also providing training for the judges and prosecutors in the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) which is part of the Iraqi criminal justice system. The IST was established to try members of the former regime accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and certain other serious crimes under existing Iraqi law including: the manipulation of the judiciary; squandering public resources; and the threat or use of force against other Arab States. The UK has also been providing support to improve prison standards in the south of Iraq.

Iraq is not a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Therefore the court can only exercise jurisdiction with respect to such crimes committed there if they were committed by a national of a state party, if Iraq were to make an appropriate declaration or if there were a referral by the Security Council.