AN INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT – 27 October 1999
Dr Julian Lewis: I shall be brief, so that other hon. Members have a chance to contribute. I congratulate the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Ms King), although I will probably damn her future political prospects by saying that I agree with almost every word that she said. I intend to refer briefly to two points – verification and enforcement. As I pointed out in the intervention that the hon. Lady kindly allowed me to make, the value of an International Criminal Court is that it allows not only the possibility of retribution and deterrence, but verification that the atrocities have indeed occurred.
The searing experience of the Nuremberg trials set on record more than 20 volumes of evidence of bestial depravity committed by the Nazi régime. I will never forget seeing a short film, "A Painful Reminder", which I commend to hon. Members, made by Sidney Bernstein and Alfred Hitchcock when the concentration camps were opened. They went to the camps and made a filmed record of what they saw. They even anticipated that, one day, people would deny that those horrors had taken place. Shortly before he died, Lord Bernstein gave an interview in which he explained that they had thought ahead and filmed with the widest angle camera shots they could, to make it as difficult as possible for the people who would one day wish to commit those crimes again to deny that their political allies had committed them in the past. That was before we had the obscenity of neo-Nazi historians such as David Irving in this country, Ernst Zündel in Canada and Fred Leuchter in the United States of America trying to deny the holocaust. Verification is extremely important.
Enforcement is also important. It may cause some problems, but they should not prevent us from proceeding. The first problem is that of the criminal who is so strong that no one dares try him. It was argued at Nuremberg that the trials were "victors' justice". People still ask today how it was fair that the Soviets could sit in judgment when their régime was responsible for as many deaths and murders as the Nazi régime. We have recently had the visit of the Chinese President. One day, when those people are no longer in power, they may find themselves in the dock. My answer to that point is that being unable to bring everyone to justice does not mean that no one should be brought to justice.
The second problem is if the criminal is protected locally. Walter Rauff lived out his days in South America, even though he invented the vans which served as mobile gas chambers. People knew where he was and he was even interviewed for magazines, but he was never brought to justice. Mladic and Karadzic are still in Bosnia and nobody has yet sought to arrest them, presumably for political reasons rather than issues of justice. Aloïs Brunner, whom I have mentioned several times in the Chamber with a nil response from the Foreign Secretary on each occasion, was the man who assisted Eichmann in the holocaust in France – and he is still believed to be living in Syria under his pseudonym of Georg Fischer. Nothing is being done.
Finally, there is the problem that a criminal in government may be deterred from standing down if he does not feel he will get an amnesty if he ceases to be in government. My answer to that is simple: he should stay at home. General Pinochet might have found it useful to follow that advice. If this court is going to be made to work – as it can and must be made to work – it must be even-handed in the application of its practice, and dictators of left and right with blood on their hands must be brought to account impartially.