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War Criminals

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the position with regard to the establishment of the special international tribunal for the trial and punishment of war criminals referred to in M. Molotov's note of 14th October, 1942, and published by the Inter-Allied Information Committee?

No final decision has yet been taken by the United Nations Governments on this matter, but I would refer my hon. Friend to the declaration issued by the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Premier Stalin at the end of the Moscow Conference.

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has been the response to the request by the United Nations to neutral Powers that they should not harbour war criminals?

The communication made by His Majesty's Government to certain neutral Governments took the form of placing on record our attitude in this matter, and did not specifically call for a reply. The replies which have, however, been received from some of these Governments suggest that while reserving their rights in the matter they appreciate the motives which His Majesty's Government had in mind in making their representations.

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Ethiopia is to be included among the United Nations which have already been announced as a Commission to decide about the treatment of war criminals?

I would refer the hon. Member to the written reply which was given yesterday to the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary.

I have not seen the reply, but may I ask whether it is not a fact that all the Allied nations are entitled to be represented on that Commission with the exception of Ethiopia, and why is Ethiopia excluded?

Generally speaking, the policy of the United Nations in this matter is that only those nations who were associated with this question at the beginning should be members of the Commission. I can assure the hon. Member, however, that the Ethiopian Government were informed at the time these negotiations began and that they have offered no comment on them.

In view of the use of poison gas by the Italians against the Abyssinians, would it not be an act of justice to hand over Italian war criminals to the Ethiopians?

Is it part of the war for democracy that the elaboration of this new technique about frying war criminals should be completely without any discussion in this House or any effective discussion in this country?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say on what fronts Ethiopian troops are now engaged in capturing any of these prisoners?

In view of the obvious difficulties and embarrassments which this and similar Questions are causing, could we not have some clearer definition as to what exactly a war criminal is and to what extent that should cover not only this campaign but others?