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War Crime Investigations: Syria and Iraq

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 2 February 2017

6. How the Government collect evidence for use in their investigations into alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Syria and Iraq. (908574)

UK nationals can be prosecuted in our domestic courts for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that have taken place abroad. My hon. Friend will know that the UK Government are also working with other Governments to explore international legal mechanisms whereby Daesh can be held to account for its crimes.

It appears that no steps are currently being taken by the International Criminal Court to pursue prosecutions for crimes against humanity or genocide in Syria and Iraq, despite a substantial vote in this House advocating such action. Is the UK taking any steps to use its own legal competences to prosecute UK nationals who might be committing such crimes in those countries?

My hon. Friend will know that the UK Government sought to pursue a route whereby the International Criminal Court would consider offences of this type committed in Iraq and Syria, but that our approach was vetoed by the Russians and the Chinese, so there has been no lack of effort on the part of the United Kingdom. In relation to domestic law, we will certainly pursue those offences as and where we can. She will also recognise that the primary practical difficulty is that of obtaining the necessary evidence, and we are working at international level to determine how evidence can be properly collected and retained in theatre so that it can be used for prosecutions when the time comes.