FOREIGN AFFAIRS – TERRORIST PRISONERS – 17 January 2002
Dr Julian Lewis: Given that the BBC's "The World at One" programme yesterday made the extraordinary decision to devote more than half its running time to concerns about the treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners, the Leader of the House [Robin Cook] may think that far too much time has already been spent on the issue. Nevertheless, I should like to join those of his Back Benchers who are calling for a statement from the Foreign Secretary on the treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners and the way in which they should be tried. Surely, such a statement would give the Foreign Secretary the opportunity to point out that, in past conflicts, people who engaged in the sort of outrageous terrorism of which the prisoners are accused were by no means and by no stretch of the imagination ever subject to the provisions of the Geneva Convention? It would also enable him to point out to the House that it was as the result of trying such people in a civilian court after the attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993 that bin Laden was informed that his telephones were being listened to. If that had not happened, the later attack might not have succeeded. So, let us hear why it is that military tribunals are indeed a necessity.