|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Dormand of Easington: This is the second time in his wind-up that the noble Lord has mentioned about the Bill not including what the money is for. He has just contradicted himself. I should like to help to clarify the situation by saying that as I understand it the Bill does not mention this matter. In that respect I think he is correct but, in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum which, as he knows, is an essential part of the Bill, there are these words:
Lord Henley: That is the very point that I am trying to make. I was trying to offer advice to the Government as to how to draft Bills. I find it quite extraordinary that they have put this purpose into the Explanatory and
Lord Peston: No, I was not agreeing with that. I was agreeing that it seemed to be perfectly legitimate for the noble Lord to raise these questions, as I believe very strongly that virtually anything--even the hijacking of the whole debate by the Scots in the end--is legitimate. So I really hope that the noble Lord does not say that I disagree with his raising these matters, because that is not so.
Lord Henley: I have to say that my noble friend hijacked it for the Scots because half the amendments in this particular group relate to Clause 5 and to Scotland. I think it was a perfectly legitimate act (and I hope the noble Lord accepts that it was a perfectly legitimate act) to raise those two particularly difficult Scottish points.
As I said, I do not think that we have received satisfactory answers. I will have to consider very carefully what kind of amendments we do put down at a later stage because I can assure the noble Baroness that this whole question of the savings and how great they will be is not one that will go away. As I gave an assurance earlier, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"The two individuals had been indicted by ICTY for complicity in genocide, for acts against the Bosnian Moslem and Croat people, in the municipality of Prijedor, between 29th April 1992 and 31st December 1992. Drljaca was in 1992 the Deputy Minister of the Interior of Republica Srpska; thereafter the Chief of Police in Prijedor. Kovacevic was formerly President of the Executive Board of the municipality of Prijedor.
"The first indictee, Drljaca was challenged by SFOR personnel. He immediately drew a pistol and shot, and wounded, one of our soldiers. The other soldiers then returned fire in self-defence. Drljaca was fatally wounded. Two other people who were with Drljaca were detained. They have been transferred to The Hague. Three handguns were recovered at the scene.
"These detentions took place in accordance with the stabilisation force's mandate from the North Atlantic Council, as the NATO Secretary-General Solana has made clear. The action had the specific authority of the Secretary-General, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and the North Atlantic Council. SFOR troops have instructions to detain indictees if they come across them in the course of their normal duties, and providing the tactical situation permits. The SFOR mandate has not changed. The injury to our soldier, and the death of Drljaca, illustrates the grave risks involved in such operations and the courage and selflessness of those who serve us.
"I am sure the House will join with me in congratulating and commending the courage and professionalism of the British forces involved. I am very proud of their performance, which was up to the highest military standards.
"The Government have repeatedly made it clear that they believe all of those indicted for war crimes should face trial at the International Tribunal at the Hague. I strongly held that view personally when I was an Opposition spokesman, and I repeated my personal commitment--and that of this Government--at the press conference I held in Sarajevo in May.
"With the Chief of the Defence Staff I went to Pale on the same visit and told the Bosnian Serb member of the Bosnia Herzegovina Presidency, President Krajisnik, of our serious interest in indicted war criminals and we formed the clear impression that the Republika Srpska authorities intended to do little to discharge their solemn obligations.
"They were not then, and have not since been, left in any doubt about the resolve of Britain and our allies to bring to justice those accused of such terrible acts. We will take action as and when it is practical
Earl Howe: My Lords, from these Benches may I express my gratitude to the Minister for repeating the Statement on this serious development in Bosnia. I suspect that many of us will have experienced a certain sense of frustration in recent months that indicted war criminals were at large and living freely in Bosnia Herzegovina and that there was apparently little that our security forces could do about this proactively unless, as the Statement says, they came across the indictees during the course of their normal duties. Apart from the injury to the British soldier, this is indeed a welcome turn of events.
Does the Minister accept that British service personnel are working under very difficult conditions in Bosnia and today's action highlights this fact? We should like to join him in wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded man.
Will the Minister also note that our troops have the support and the thanks of all sides of the House for the duties they perform to uphold the peace in the former Yugoslavia and to enforce the Dayton peace agreement. We certainly join with the Minister in congratulating our troops on what they have accomplished. These developments focus our minds on the ever-approaching deadline for SFOR's departure and the scant time that there is left to achieve all that needs to be achieved if a durable peace is to be secured in that troubled region. In the absence of a durable settlement in Bosnia, does not this incident underline the need to extend the existing deadline for SFOR? What can the Minister tell us about the discussions within NATO on that subject? When does he expect a decision to be taken?
I turn to the section of the Statement which refers to SFOR's mandate. Will the Minister accept the support of Her Majesty's Opposition for the SFOR mandate to detain and transfer to the international criminal tribunal for Yugoslavia those people who have been indicted for war crimes? The Minister has said that the SFOR mandate has not been changed. However, will he tell the House whether there has been a change in the way in which the mandate has been implemented?
We are pleased to note from the Statement that Kovacevic was arrested. The Statement is a little unclear as to who detained him, but it is good to note that he is in custody. Can the Minister say what pressure is being applied to the authorities locally to apprehend war criminals as they are expected to do under the Dayton
At the risk of bombarding the Minister with questions, not all of which, I realise, he will have time to answer, can he tell the House how many other indictments are outstanding at present? Ever present in our minds, of course, must be the safety of British troops. It seems to me that there is a distinct danger from these detentions that local people will view our troops in a new and perhaps slightly less benign light from this point on. What steps will the Government take to ensure against possible retaliation against British forces in the area?
Finally, I believe that there is a general lesson to be drawn from these incidents. As the Statement acknowledges, no one should imagine that peacekeeping is easy or risk free. I hope that the Minister will agree that this incident underlines the dangers of peacekeeping and the necessity of having well trained, well equipped and highly motivated professional troops to carry out those duties.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page