The Special Court for Sierra Leone is the first international criminal tribunal to be funded entirely from voluntary contributions from Governments. Since its creation in 2002, the United Kingdom has been a strong and steady contributor of funds to the Special Court. As a demonstration of our continued support, I am informing the House that the Government have recently contributed an additional £3 million; the United Kingdom has now contributed around £27 million overall. Our contributions have helped the Special Court successfully to investigate and prosecute eight of those who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed during its bloody civil war. The Government’s latest donation will also help allow the Special Court to complete the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, the first former head of state to be brought to trial on charges of war crimes for actions he took while in office. We look forward to the verdict from the court this summer.
Furthermore, the Government support and promote international justice widely as a key pillar of their foreign policy. The United Kingdom is active in all six existing international criminal tribunals and I can inform the House that, in addition to its support for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Government have recently contributed a further £1 million to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and a further £l million to the special tribunal for Lebanon.
The Government are fully committed to the principle that there should be no impunity for the most serious crimes at the international level. The effective prosecution of those who commit these crimes is fundamental to suppressing such crimes, which in turn is vital in the development of communities which are more stable and prosperous. I applaud the important work of all of the international tribunals.