Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL269):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that 13-year old Mohammed Hamid Mohammed, admitted to Tal Tamir Hospital following the bombing of Ras-al Ain by Turkey, is a victim of white phosphorus; and whether they intend to refer any such use of white phosphorus to the International Criminal Court to seek justice for the reported violations of the Geneva Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. (HL269)
Tabled on: 22 October 2019
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
The British Government is deeply concerned by all civilian casualties in north east Syria. The allegations that white phosphorous has been used against civilians are extremely worrying and it is important that the full facts are established before any other action is considered. The UN Commission of Inquiry has responsibility for investigating alleged violations of international law in Syria. White phosphorus is not classed as a chemical weapon or covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention. But we have repeatedly called on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law which prohibits attacks against civilians irrespective of the weapon used.
Date and time of answer: 04 Nov 2019 at 12:04.
Two Interventions in Parliament, yesterday, on the alleged use of chemical weapons in NE Syria and the failure to bring those responsible for genocide to justice:
Question Time – House of Lords: October 24th 2019
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, having said that, has the noble Baroness had a chance to read the report in this morning’s Times by Anthony Loyd that the ISIS flag has again been flying above the al-Hawl camp where 68,000 family members of ISIS are held? Has she also yet had a chance to evaluate the list that I sent to her department naming jihadists who are now fighting alongside the Turkish army? Where does this leave the fight against terror and Turkey’s membership of NATO, as well as our obligations to bring those who are responsible for this genocide against minorities, both in northern Iraq and north-east Syria, to justice?
Baroness GoldieI am aware of the noble Lord’s earlier inquiry and, if he will permit me to do so, I shall respond to him in more detail. I said earlier that these are turbulent, difficult and unpredictable times. The United Kingdom is clear that we must be consistent and resolute in our approach to these difficult circumstances. I emphasise that the focus of our activity is, if we can, to assist in a political solution within Syria but also, unequivocally, to deal with the continuing threat posed by Daesh.
1.58 pmLord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, for initiating today’s debate and giving us the chance to return to questions that a number of noble Lords raised during the debate on the gracious Speech.
I raised these questions on 16 October—at col. 116—and earlier today, in the Oral Question answered by the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie.
I will ask the Minister a specific question at the outset which I put to the noble Baroness earlier today.
It concerns the camp at al-Hawl, which is just a few miles from the so-called safe zone. It is a desolate place where some 68,000 ISIS family members are held and where the ISIS flag has been flying again in recent weeks.
What are we doing to ensure that those inside those camps are kept there and that they are brought to justice in due course? It would be utterly inconceivable to talk about a war on terror and the pursuit of justice if we allowed them simply to walk away.
The Minister will recall that I sent him and raised in earlier interventions a list of known jihadists fighting alongside the Turkish army in this conflict. What is being done to evaluate the credibility of those names and how are we holding Turkey to account?
Other noble Lords have referred to Turkey’s NATO membership.
I took the trouble to look at what a new applicant to NATO would have to do to satisfy membership. Turkey today is very different from the Turkey that joined NATO in 1952.
Candidates need,“to have stable democratic systems, pursue the peaceful settlement of territorial and ethnic disputes, have good relations with their neighbours, show commitment to the rule of law and human rights”.
I hope the Minister will say, on the basis of Turkey’s actions in northern Syria, which of those criteria still apply to it.
I hope the Minister will also address some points that I have put to him through Written Questions and in correspondence.
What assessment has he made of reports that 13 year-old Mohammed Hamid Mohammed, admitted to Tal Tamir hospital following the bombing of Ras al-Ain by Turkey, is a victim of white phosphorus?
Do the Government intend therefore to refer this issue to the International Criminal Court to seek justice for the reported violations of the Geneva conventions and the Chemical Weapons Convention?
What assessment have the Government made of whether the execution of Hevrin Khalaf, the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, constitutes a war crime, along with the claim by the Syrian Democratic Forces that nine executions of civilians have been carried out since the invasion of Syria by Turkey?
What information have the Government received about the plight of religious or political minorities, referred to by the noble Lord in his introductory remarks, who are at risk from genocidaires in north-east Syria?
What action are they taking in accordance with the requirements of the convention on the prevention of genocide to protect them and to bring the perpetrators to justice?
What progress are they making in establishing international judicial mechanisms to bring those responsible for genocide to justice?
What steps are they taking to assist other national partners in planning an exit strategy for Christians, Yazidis and other minorities who now might face genocide?
Those are legitimate questions that have been put to the Minister in writing. I hope he will take this opportunity to actually answer them.
Kurds: and a betrayal of historic proportions:
‘Only God is with us’: A Christian Syrian family feels betrayed by US – ABC News
Germany Prosecutes While We Watch ISIS Combatants Go Free. Read Ewelina Ochab.
Germany Conducts Its First Genocide Trial Of A Daesh Fighter – Forbes