Dáil Éireann - Volume 472 - 11 December, 1996

Written Answers. - Bosnia War Crimes Tribunal.

57. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs whether any persons indicted for war crimes have been arrested in the past two months in Bosnia or in neighbouring countries and brought before the war crimes tribunal at the Hague; and the steps, if any, the European Union is taking to have such persons arrested and prosecuted. [24016/96]

67. Mr. Callely asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the efficiency of the United Nations protection force; the recent occurrences, if any, where the United Nations protection force has been seen to be of no great benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24037/96]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 67 together. According to information I have received from the International Criminal Tribunal, there have been no new arrests of indicted suspects during the past two months. Of [1557] a total of 74 indicted persons, only seven have so far been arrested or handed over to the tribunal. This is a very disappointing statistic and the Government is determined that more pressure should be brought to bear on those who have obligations to ensure that those charged with war crimes should appear in the Hague. The Government continues to hold the view that full co-operation by all parties with the International Criminal Tribunal in the efforts to bring war criminals to justice is a fundamental obligation which must be honoured if genuine stability and lasting peace is to be consolidated. All parties must abide by the commitment they have made to hand over indicted suspects without delay. It is also important that the international organisations and agencies active on the ground should examine now they can make a more effective contribution to the efforts of the tribunal in this regard.

We also support the policy that the provision of economic reconstruction assistance is clearly linked to co-operation in this area. The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Republika Srpska leadership, have been reminded that their obligations under international law take precedence over any provisions in their national or local legislation. Similarly, in the case of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the EU has made clear that the development of relations between the EU and those countries will be influenced by their attitude towards co-operation with the tribunal. The Government will continue to be a strong and unequivocal supporter of the International Criminal Tribunal and the effort to bring war criminals to justice. This support is not only demonstrated in political and diplomatic terms but also in practical ways. In this regard, in addition to previous voluntary contributions, and to payment of our annual assessed UN contribution for the running costs of the tribunal, the Government has, in the last few weeks, contributed a further $100,000 to assist the work of the tribunal.

Deputy Callely refers to the role of the United Nations. At present, in Bosnia, this is limited basically to the International Police Task Force, the mandate of which is to oversee the activities of local police forces and promote the development of democratic policing and respect for human rights. The Government attaches great importance to the role of the IPTF and has demonstrated its commitment in this area in a number of ways, notably through our contribution of a contingent of 31 members of the Garda Síochána to the IPTF, including its commissioner, Peter Fitzgerald. In September Ireland hosted an international conference on law enforcement assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was attended by representatives of some 40 countries and which resulted in significant pledges of training, financial and personnel support for that force. The Government supports a strengthening of the [1558] role of the IPTF, including granting it powers to investigate malpractices within the police forces and to recommend sanctions against individuals or police forces who violate human rights. This will be necessary if it is to carry out more effectively the important tasks which it has been given in relation to implementation of the peace agreement.