British Government Reveals It Does Not Plan to Ratify Genocide Convention Soon

The British Government made it clear during the weekend that it does not intend to ratify in the near future the international genocide pact which outlaws mass extermination of a people. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Kenneth Younger told the House of Commons that while Britain supported the U.N. genocide pact, its ratification would involve alterations of existing national legislation affecting the right to grant asylum.

One of the articles of the genocide convention stipulates that no country can refuse to surrender a person accused of genocide on the grounds that it was a political crime. There had been cases recently when Britain was not prepared to give up political refugees who were granted asylum in England. The Minister of State pointed out that similar difficulties are being experienced by other nations on the ratification of the genocide convention. This, he said, is the chief reason why so few nations have ratified the convention.

Barnett Janner, Jewish Laborite M.P., insisted that the British Government should ratify the genocide convention immediately. He emphasized that there was very ample reason for urgency and referred especially to the recrudescence of anti-Semitism in Germany. He pointed out that even in Britain there are some persons who advocate a policy which would lead “to another Belsen and Buchenwald.”

Mr. Younger said that the government was consulting the United Nations and other parties, including nations which had ratified the convention. He added that the Soviet decision to ratify the genocide convention with reservations also makes it difficult for Britain to ratify the convention immediately, since the Soviet stand raises “difficult questions of international law.” He asked Mr. Janner to be patient.

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