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Bosnia-Herzegovina: War Criminals

Volume 670: debated on Thursday 3 March 2005

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11.16 a.m.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to widen the mission of the European Union force, which has taken over from the NATO force in Bosnia, to include apprehension of war criminals as defined by the International Criminal Court.

My Lords, the European Union-led force, EUFOR, in Bosnia and Herzegovina works in close co-operation with the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo to provide assistance to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. That includes action to detain fugitive persons indicted for war crimes. The Government do not see a need at this stage to widen further the mandate of EUFOR in that respect.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the failure to apprehend either Karadzic or Mladic so many years after Srebrenica really shames us? At a meeting that I attended towards the end of last year, I understood from the French general who had taken over the EU force that had replaced NATO that their apprehension was not a priority mission of the EU force, nor was it of NATO. I do not understand why not, because I am sure that a determined effort to find those people would work.

My Lords, I hope I can reassure the noble Lord on his first point. The British force commander for EUFOR, who took over at the beginning of this year—Major General Leakey—has underlined in his public statements that EUFOR would lead efforts to tackle networks that sheltered and financed war criminals. In the first month of its mission, EUFOR, under the British general, mounted an operation to secure bunker complexes that were believed to have been used to shelter the fugitive, Ratko Mladic.

The noble Lord was concerned about the mandate. I can reassure him that EUFOR has full authority to monitor the military aspects of the general framework agreement for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both EUFOR and NATO have the authority to apprehend persons indicted for war crimes. Their mandate explicitly states that.

My Lords, I associate myself entirely with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Russell-Johnston. As we are talking about the International Criminal Court, which is referred to in the Question, would it be stretching the issue too far to ask what the Government's view is about alleged war criminals in Sudan and in the western region of Darfur? Have they been referred to either the International Criminal Court or to a separate tribunal?

My Lords, it is a bit of a stretch. I thought that I had tried to cover all the main aspects of the issue, but I am afraid that Sudan did not come into that. However, we believe that the international community should fully co-operate with the International Criminal Court.

My Lords, while returning the Question to order but nonetheless slightly widening its scope, will the Minister confirm that the encouraging aspect and broad background here is that in respect of both these particular issues and NPT adherence, WMD and the human rights aspects of the EU constitution when it has been ratified by all member states, along with the European Convention on Human Rights, those that are now putative new members of the European Union have to do all those things, not just some of them?

My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. Balkan watchers in the House know that conditionality is the key here. If countries in the Balkans want to integrate further with Europe or NATO, it is a prerequisite that they co-operate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.