Today the Government set out details of progress being made to establish a parliamentary committee to examine allegations of genocide, but also reveals its limitations. Only when the High Court is given the power to make Genocide determinations will we see fundamental change. The political parties now need to make this a manifesto commitment.

Jun 9, 2021 | Featured parliamentary activity

Today the Government set out details of progress being made to establish a parliamentary committee to examine allegations of genocide, but also reveals its limitations. Only when the High Court is given the power to make Genocide determinations will we see fundamental change. The political parties now need to make this a manifesto commitment.

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict
King Charles Street London
SW1A 2AH
Tel: 0207 008 5000

9 June 2021


Dear Lady Smith, Lady Goudie, Lord Forsyth and Lord Alton,


Thank you for your important contributions at the debate on accountability for perpetrators of genocide, tabled on Thursday 27 May.

I greatly appreciate your interest in this issue, and your questions on the progress being made to establish a parliamentary committee to examine allegations of genocide, on which I said I would write to you.

Charging a Committee with the functions set out in section 3 of the Trade Act is a matter for Parliament.

During the passage of the Bill, it was not possible to secure agreement on which committees would be responsible for this process. Discussions are underway in the House of Commons and the Government will support this by bringing forward motions when required.

We can now confirm that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) has agreed to be charged with the role in the Commons, subject to agreement by the House. This proposal was agreed through usual channel discussions with the Chair of the FAC and other parties. Discussions in the House of Lords are due to begin shortly.

As previously agreed, the Government will also support the responsible Committees in both Houses being able to refer reports of genocide in the territory of a prospective FTA counter-party to a joint committee.

This joint committee could be chaired by a former senior member of the judiciary drawn from the Cross Benches and have additional members with relevant expertise appointed to it, agreed through the usual channels.

Again, once charged, this will be a matter for each House and the responsible Committees to determine, and the Government has committed to bring forward motions if necessary.

The purpose of the Committee is to provide Parliament with the ability to gather evidence, and to provide information to the Government, on whether there are credible reports of genocide in a prospective Free Trade Agreement counter-party. Publication of ‘credible reports’ in a Committee report is the key trigger for a debate and vote in Parliament. Select Committees are free to decide to publish reports in response to a range of factors.

This could include for example: a finding of genocide by a competent court, either international or a UK criminal court; evidence arising from an inquiry established by the Committee itself; evidence provided through public consultation by Government in advance of commencing any new free trade negotiations with a given country.

This approach will allow Parliament to act quickly and decisively on the issue of genocide where it arises in the context of international trade agreements, and it underscores the Government’s commitment to continuing to work closely with Parliament on this important issue.

Thank you again for your constructive contributions at the debate. I am copying this letter to Lord Ashton of Hyde and Mark Spencer MP. A copy of this letter will also be placed in the libraries of both Houses.

Yours sincerely,

LORD (TARIQ) AHMAD OF WIMBLEDON
Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence

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