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Lord Monson: My Lords, on Second Reading I expressed the fear that much of the Bill was effectively, even if not consciously, a stepping stone on the way to world government. Such a prospect will not worry the minority who favour world government--quite the opposite--but it should worry everyone else. Amendment No. 4 in particular would help to diminish those fears. The same would have been true of Amendments Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
Moreover, without these amendments, any future South African-type settlement, as the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, pointed out, and any future Northern Ireland-style settlement, or perhaps one should say potential settlement, would not be possible. Prosecution would be obligatory in every single case. The views and the prejudices of those living hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of miles away would count for more than the considered judgments of those living on the spot. Therefore, I certainly support Amendment No. 4, moved so well by the noble Lord, Lord Lamont.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, perhaps I may deal with each of the amendments in turn, in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, has done. I shall explain briefly why we are opposed to each and all of them.
Amendment No. 4 would mean that the United Kingdom would not co-operate with an ICC request where a democratically elected government had already granted amnesty to an individual in relation to the crime committed. It is ironic that this amendment should be moved only two days after Judge Gabriel Cavallo in the Argentine ruled that amnesties in that country in relation to a case of kidnapping of children were unconstitutional and should be set aside. No doubt, if the amnesty remains overturned under the legal system in the Argentine, that case will lead to a number of prosecutions of child kidnappers and others who abuse children.
That amnesty, like many others in Latin America and elsewhere, arose as military regimes gave way to democratically elected governments. In its wake, amnesty laws were passed virtually everywhere in Latin America. They were passed as blanket amnesties, after serious crimes had occurred, without any recognition of the suffering of the victims and their families; and they were passed without any investigation into the circumstances and without any attribution of responsibility for the commission of those serious crimes.
Lord Monson: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. Does he agree that if those amnesties had not been granted, the authoritarian regimes of which he speaks would not have relinquished power? Those Latin American countries might still be under the grip of dictatorship today.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, it is difficult to answer that question as a general proposition. For example, during the Second World War, the allies pursued--in my view, correctly--a policy of unconditional surrender. At the time, some argued that that was a mistaken policy because it prolonged the war. I believe that it was the correct policy. The United States--I want to place this on record in view of some of the things that have been said about the United States--opposed the view of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill's view was that we should, in his words, simply "string up" the war criminals at the nearest lamppost without a trial.
The United States took the contrary view that due process, in every sense, should be followed at the Nuremberg military tribunal. It deputed Justice Robert Jackson from the Supreme Court of the United States to become the prosecutor on its behalf. In my view, the stance adopted by the United States was correct, and the policy of unconditional surrender was also correct. However, it was a political judgment which may well have led to a prolongation of the war. The truth is that one can only answer that question in the light of the particular political circumstances at the time.
The point that I seek to make is simply that a blanket amnesty which involves no investigation of the circumstances, nothing for the victims, and no attribution of responsibility is incompatible with the scheme of the statute. It would allow countries to shield war criminals and those who commit crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. That is why I do not support Amendment No. 4.
Lord Lamont of Lerwick: My Lords, is there not a great deal of difference between a situation of international conflict, such as the Second World War, in relation to which I accept what the noble Lord says about unconditional surrender, and a situation which arises internally within a country? If one applies such absolutist standards, it is not we who suffer, as we suffered in the Second World War; it is the people of that country who suffer because a regime, which otherwise would give way, is kept in power. Would it not be better if Fidel Castro was given an amnesty for the future and was exempted from charges relating to the 40,000 deaths attributed to his regime?
Therefore, my answer to the noble Lord is that, of course, politically there may be differences. However, in terms of responsibility for crimes of that character, that responsibility is universally international. Blanket amnesties are incompatible with the statute.
So far as concerns Amendment No. 5, which relates to the Good Friday agreement, I want to make a small, technical point and I shall make it briefly. The statute is not retrospective and therefore would not apply to offences committed before the statute came into force. Therefore, that amendment, which I do not believe is pressed seriously, would be inept.
Amendment No. 6 would mean that if, for example, Syria did not ratify the ICC Statute and a Syrian citizen made his way to Israel, where he participated in a heinous crime against humanity, he would be entirely safe from prosecution by the ICC if he made his way to the United Kingdom. Obviously that would also be in breach of the statute and, in my submission, should be opposed on that ground.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I rise simply to deal with an aspect of Amendment No. 4. I am a member of the International Commission of Jurists, which is an international human rights organisation. Quite frankly, at present one of the most serious problems in relation to international human rights law is impunity. Impunity arises when, as a result of an amnesty or for other reasons, those who have perpetrated grave crimes against humanity, genocide or whatever, within their own country are not capable of being brought to prosecution.
In relation to amnesties, one sees in South Africa an exceptional situation. I believe that the work of Archbishop Tutu's Truth Commission has been astonishing and has been admired around the world. I do not believe that a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court would be likely to take the view that an amnesty given as a result of that commission would be in breach of human rights law. I would not in any circumstances expect to see a prosecution.
However, that is the exception and not the rule. In far too many countries elsewhere--particularly in Latin America--new governments, many of them democratic, have, under pressure from the military regimes, agreed to give amnesties for grave crimes against humanity committed by the previous military regimes. That may or may not be a necessity as regards the internal politics of those countries.
I do not believe that that is any reason why other countries should be prevented from investigating the guilt of those who are alleged to have committed grave crimes if they come within the jurisdiction of another country or of the International Criminal Court. For that reason I feel very strongly that acceptance of Amendment No. 4, which would release from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court those who have been amnestied under pressure, would not be right and proper. I most strongly oppose it.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I wish to speak briefly to Amendments Nos 4 and 5 in the name of my noble friend Lord Lamont. These are very interesting and important amendments. Even in this brief debate they bring out the problem that we are dealing with a clash of two very noble cultures. One is that justice must be upheld and that the legal systems of the planet must be so designed to hunt down the butchers, which is completely right, and the other is that we need to seek peace. That requires sometimes statesmen and sometimes forgiveness and the blotting out of memories on an heroic scale. I am not sure that we would have peace in Europe today unless to some degree we were prepared to yield to the second culture as well as uphold the first. They do clash and there is no way round that. No one wants military governments or crimes to go unpunished, but we want peace. Sometimes these highly noble aims conflict head on.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lester, put his finger on it, as one would expect, when he said that no general propositions were possible over the amnesty question. There are good and bad amnesties, cheat amnesties and desperately needed ones. We are going to move into that world more and more. That reinforces the point I was unsuccessfully making in the previous debate that if we can introduce some flexibility into the statute, we might be living in a better world than if there is none. When we are told, "I am sorry, it is not possible because it is incompatible with the statute", that is the voice of rigidity and of maybe noble ideals, but making absolutely certain that in future those noble ideals will come under impossible strain. That is sad.
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