Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 13th June 2016.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what procedures they have in place to identify the occurrence of genocide for the purposes of fulfilling their obligations as a contracting party under Article VIII of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide 1948; and whether there is a protocol in place to guide those procedures.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State

The UK is party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948 which requires that we prevent and punish the crime of genocide in our jurisdiction. As a State Party to the International Criminal Court Statute (ICC), the UK has made it a domestic crime to commit any of the crimes in the ICC Statute, including genocide. Where such crimes take place in the UK, or are committed by UK nationals, they can be prosecuted before the UK courts. Responsibility for investigation and prosecution in the UK lies with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police.

Our seat on the UN Security Council means that the UK is able to swiftly engage where a threat of atrocity crimes emerges. The form of that engagement depends on the particulars of any individual situation. Where prevention has failed, it is the international community's responsibility to take collective action, through diplomatic, humanitarian and other means. Where timely and decisive action to end, or prevent, the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes is necessary, the UK is active in calling for UN action. However, the Government believes that formal recognition that genocide has been committed is ultimately a matter for the courts, not political bodies.

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