International Criminal Court Bill [H.L.]
Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Labour)
My Lords, I most respectfully agree with those comments.
The fourth reason that we cannot agree to the amendment is that were such ICC crimes ever to be committed in the future, they would be investigated and prosecuted by the appropriate domestic authorities. As a result, the ICC would not have jurisdiction. I respectfully suggest that although the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, wishes to conflate the situation in Northern Ireland with those in other parts of the world, it is important to remember that the early release of prisoners is not an amnesty. There has been no amnesty for prisoners released under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act. All such people have had to serve a minimum period in custody prior to release. Moreover, no outstanding prosecutions have been dropped.
Fifthly, in so far as the noble Lord wishes to raise the hypothetical argument that the ICC would wish to have jurisdiction over war criminals in another country who have been released on licence under a peace agreement, I respectfully suggest that he might with advantage glance at paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the ICC Statute. That makes it clear that there are very limited circumstances in which the ICC could try someone who has already been tried,
"with respect to the same conduct",
and that there are carefully drafted criteria on which such decisions would be made. I hope that my answers encourage the noble Lord to withdraw Amendment No. 5.
I turn to Amendment No. 6. I regret that I cannot accept that amendment either. The import of the noble Lord's suggestion was that we should not surrender to the ICC any national of a state that is not a party to the ICC, however appalling the crimes he may have committed. That is contrary to Article 12 of the Rome Statute, which states that the court may exercise its jurisdiction if either the state of nationality of the accused or the state on whose territory the crime was alleged to have been committed is a party to the court. The statute also provides that a non-party state can consent to the ICC's investigating a crime on its territory or that of its nationals. The ICC will therefore have jurisdiction over citizens of a country that has not ratified the statute only where they have committed their crimes on the territory of the state party, where the non-party state in question has given its consent or where the Security Council has referred to the court a threat to international peace and security.
The noble Lord asked about paragraph 3 of Article 12. The short answer is that a non-state party will not be able to refer cases to the ICC. The ICC Statute will enable the court to investigate crimes committed by rogue states on the territories of state parties. To take an historical example, it would have dealt with war crimes alleged during the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq if Iraq were a state party, which we might safely assume it would not be. If the ICC were not able to act in such circumstances in future, the message to non-party states would be that they may safely commit ICC crimes with impunity anywhere in the world.
I agree with those noble Lords whose spoke against the amendments. I hope that, having considered the matter, the noble Lord will not test the opinion of the House on any of the amendments.