Rwanda

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 7th June 1995.

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Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth 2:16 pm, 7th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met his European Union counterparts regarding the situation in Rwanda; and if he will make a statement. [25433]

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson , Rossendale and Darwen

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Rwanda. [25434]

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Rwanda has been discussed on a regular basis in the European Union, most recently at the Development Affairs Council on 1 June attended by my right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Chalker.

Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth

Since we beatified the blessed Baroness Chalker yesterday, I would not wish to canonise her today. Although I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the efforts that they have made in the European Union, in spite of quite disgraceful opposition, to continue to support Rwanda in the way that it is being supported, may I urge on them the necessity of taking to task the French Government for continuing to supply arms outside Rwanda to parties to the conflict and ask the Government to consult about that in the European Union? In the context of Lomé, will the Government also take to task Zaire and South Africa who—equally—are supplying arms outside Rwanda to parties to the conflict?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I am always grateful for the hon. Gentleman's congratulations. I am grateful that he has recognised that we have been taking a constructive role in trying to find a way forward for the resumption of sensible EU aid to Rwanda. Indeed, we have been taking a leading part in that effort. I hope that full resumption of EU aid will be possible in the very near future. Of course, in a situation such as that in Rwanda, armed groups wandering around the place do not help anyone. Certainly it behoves everyone in the international community to try to ensure that everyone behaves responsibly, supports the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General and of peacekeepers in the region and does nothing else which may undermine the peace process taking place in Rwanda.

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson , Rossendale and Darwen

Does the Minister accept that reconciliation can be achieved only when those responsible for the genocide are brought to justice? Does he also accept that the identity of the ringleaders is widely known, as is their whereabouts? What pressure are the Government putting on African Governments to see that those war criminals are brought to justice?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I do not think that there is any disagreement that those who committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law should be brought to account for their actions. That is exactly the reason why the United Kingdom Government sponsored the Security Council resolution establishing an international criminal tribunal for Rwanda. As the hon. Lady says, bringing such people to trial is an essential pre-condition for efforts of reconciliation. We have been supporting the tribunal with funds and it will soon start its work. We clearly hope that, in the not too distant future, those who were responsible for some of the earlier atrocities will be brought to trial and to book, which will be part of the reconciliation process in Rwanda.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Returning to the question of arms and the arms embargo, is the Minister aware that human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch are concerned about the fact that arms are getting to former members of the Rwandan armed forces in refugee camps outside Rwanda? The suggestion is that Governments, individuals and organisations in France, South Africa and Zaire are actively involved in that process. Will the Minister and the Government, in supporting the retention of the United Nations role in Rwanda, press for the UN to have monitoring powers not only inside Rwanda but outside, to ensure that arms do not get through to would-be combatants? If that does not happen, we face the prospect of a return to intertribal conflict and the resumption of the genocide that the world saw last year.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I think that I answered that point fairly fully in reply to the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) and there is nothing else that I can say on the subject. The facts speak for themselves. We have been determined to try to ensure that there is the maximum number of international and UN monitors, and we have been among the foremost nations in helping to fund those monitors, outside as well as inside Rwanda. That will make a considerable contribution, because what is going on will be more widely known.