Britain responsible for blocking legal challenge on war crimes - 2012-07-05
Britain has been told it should stop 'sitting on the fence' and join international calls to immediately refer crimes against humanity taking place in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Labour's European Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Richard Howitt MEP told a European Parliament debate Britain was responsible for a call for reference to the ICC to be removed from draft conclusions at the last meeting of the European Foreign Affairs Council.
The Labour Euro MP also castigated Britain and other European Governments for withdrawing a resolution expected to call for referring Syria to the International Criminal Court at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.
The Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesperson told the debate it was not "expedient" for Britain to do so, whilst the Cypriot Presidency replying to Richard Howitt MEP told him he didn't want "to cause controversy at this time."
Richard Howitt MEP said "After 16,000 deaths and in the week evidence has been published of widespread use of torture by the Syrian authorities, the time for delay has ended.
"Delay hasn't created the space for a negotiated end to the conflict, it has left a vacuum whereby huge violations have continued and intensified.
"Saying in speeches that those responsible will be held to account for their crimes has not been enough, and it is our responsibility to trigger the process for this to happen.
"Is the withdrawal of the resolution in Geneva because they don't really support the UN High Commissioner when she calls for the ICC reference?
"Six European countries have backed the Swiss initiative to support reference to the ICC and it is now time for Britain and every EU government now to do so too."
For more information or to arrange to interview Richard Howitt MEP, please contact Brian Dawson in Richard Howitt MEP's office on +322 284 5477 or David Poyser Mobile /GSM 00 32 479790053