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|Geneva Conventions And United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL]|
These notes refer to the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL] as brought from the House of Lords on 2 March 2009 [Bill 69]
GENEVA CONVENTIONS AND UNITED NATIONS PERSONNEL (PROTOCOLS) BILL [HL]
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill as brought from the House of Lords on 2 March 2009. They have been prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. The Bill will enable the United Kingdom to become a party to the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.
TERRITORIAL EXTENT AND APPLICATION
4. The provisions of the Bill extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. As far as Scotland is concerned, the Bill relates only to reserved matters. Under clause 3, there is power to extend the provisions to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and British overseas territories.
Bill 69-EN 54/4 COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
Clause 1: Amendments of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957
5. This clause amends the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 to give effect to the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, adopted on 8 December 2005, which introduced a new humanitarian emblem, the Red Crystal. That emblem will have the same status as the existing Red Cross and Red Crescent. The Bill provides protection under the criminal law against misuse of the new emblem. As a result of the amendment to section 1A of the 1957 Act, a grave breach of the Protocol will be punishable by up to thirty years imprisonment. And as a result of the amendment to section 6 of the 1957 Act, unauthorised use of the emblem will be punishable by a fine up to level 5 on the standard scale.
Clause 2: Amendments of the United Nations Personnel Act 1997
6. This clause amends the United Nations Personnel Act 1997 to give effect to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, also adopted on 8 December 2005. This Optional Protocol extends the scope of legal protection to United Nations and associated personnel engaged in United Nations operations for delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance in peacebuilding, or for delivering emergency humanitarian assistance. The amendments made by the clause will ensure that the offences under the 1997 Act (for example, an offence under section 1 relating to attacks on United Nations workers) will apply to United Nations workers engaged in such operations.
7. The Bill is not expected to have any significant financial implications.
8. No changes to the staff of Government departments or their agencies are expected to result from the Bill.
9. A full impact assessment is available online at. Copies are also available in the Vote Office.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
10. The effect of clause 1 is such that it might be considered a control [on] the use of property within the meaning of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on the Human Rights (ECHR). However, this control would be in accordance with the general interest and therefore compatible with the ECHR, because the prevention of misuse is required by an international instrument and is necessary to protect the new humanitarian symbol which is aimed at preserving human life.
11. In addition, clause 1 extends the application of existing offences in the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and clause 2 does the same for the United Nations Personnel Act 1997. However, any prosecutions for those offences would be compatible with the ECHR because the ordinary provisions of the criminal justice system already secure the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the ECHR.
12. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998:-
13. The Bill will come into force on a day appointed by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2009||Prepared: 3 March 2009|