LONDON (Jul. 18)
The British Government has decided after lengthy and careful consideration against acceding to the International Genocide Convention, Lord Privy Seal Edward Heath declared today in the House of Commons. The pact, which has been ratified by 65 nations, outlaws such mass killings as those the Nazis committed against European Jewry during the war.
The Lord Privy Seal directed his announcement to Sir Barnett Janner, who had raised the issue and added that the reasons for the Government’s decision were contained in a full statement which he was distributing. The statement, issued by the British Foreign Office, said that the Government “fully accepts the spirit of the Genocide Convention and wholeheartedly accepts its objectives.”
However, the statement added that the Government had reached the conclusion “with great regret” not to ratify the convention because of its seventh article “which provides that offenses of genocide shall not be considered as political crimes for the purposes of extradition.”
The statement said that the Government had been advised that, to accede to the convention, it would be necessary for Britain to amend its extradition law “to suspend the operation of the safeguard against extradition for a political offense in any case where the alleged crime was genocide itself as defined in Article Two of the convention, or any of the related offenses described in Article Three.”
The Foreign Office said that this would involve “a derogation from this country’s traditional right to grant political asylum which the Government does not think it right to accept.”