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British Government Reiterates Decision Not to Join Genocide Pact

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The British Government reiterated in the House of Commons today its decision against accession to the United Nations Convention Against Genocide. That convention has been in force since 1951, but neither Britain nor the United States has ratified it. Chanukah begins at sundown this evening.

Today’s repetition of the Government’s objection to becoming a partner to the convention against genocide was expressed in the House by Peter Thomas, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was answering a query on the issue from Sir Barnett Janner, a Labor member of Parliament who is also president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He cited as the reason a statement made by the Government in July 1962, declaring that, that stand “explained the matter fully.”

Two reasons were given by the Government last year for refusing to accede to the instrument against genocide. One was that, under the UN convention, the Government would have to “forego its traditional right to give political asylum to refugees in certain cases involving a purely political offense.” The UN convention calls genocide a criminal offense, not political.

The other reason stated by the Government was that, in the unlikely event that anyone in Britain might be accused of genocide, “ordinary criminal law” would cover such a crime. The Government, however, affirmed its “utter abhorrence of the crime of genocide, and its determination that those who commit it should be brought to justice.”

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