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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, in reply to the first point of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, about the new Security Council meeting, I do not wish to anticipate those discussions. We are consulting our partners, and will continue to do so until and during the meeting, on an appropriately robust Security Council response and decision on all aspects, including the question of Judge Arbour and how to make President Milosevic comply with the agreements which he has already made. We are not trying to broker new agreements, as the noble Lord knows.

As to the question of the Extraction Force going into Kosovo, I believe that, if the noble Lord reflects, he will immediately recognise some of the problems of such an action, which would involve crossing borders. The situation is extremely difficult. As I understood it, the noble Lord was talking about occupying a village. I do not believe we are anywhere near considering such a very serious step, and I hope that we may not have to do so.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, have the Minister and her colleagues, and their allies, considered whether the war crimes approach is likely to be an effective one? After all, it is now some nine years since the troubles in the former Yugoslavia began. During that period many war crimes have been committed. We know that, for instance, major war criminals already indicted, such as Mladic and Karadzic, are still at liberty because they are protected by the government of Serbia. Is it not understandable, therefore, that people in Kosovo will hardly be encouraged by an approach which treats these atrocities as the isolated actions of units or individuals? Is it not, therefore, inevitable that the determination of President Milosevic to retain control of as much of Bosnia as he can and the whole of Kosovo is at the core of this situation? I do not know how it is to be faced, but, unless it is faced, is not the war crimes approach simply likely to produce further discouragement?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, for that intervention. As always, his point is very valid in many ways. Of course, the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is not a perfect answer and it is not being allowed to be as effective as it could be, but I do not think that means that it has not achieved quite a lot and will not achieve more. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said that after all it was clear that everything that happened at local level resulted from policy at the top. That is true. It is also true that that cannot mean that local commanders, whether the police or army, are absolved of responsibility when they act in a way that the international community agrees is outside the bounds of acceptable human behaviour. That is what the ICTY

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must be about. It is up to the ICTY how high up the scale of responsibility it goes when it indicts people, but one cannot absolve people at local level.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, the Minister rightly said that it was most important to proceed to political talks. While it is deplorable that the KLA refuses to take part in anything that includes Dr. Rugova, can she assure the House that no signal is being given to the Kosovan Albanians that the limits of their ambitions should be autonomy and that the review of the final status of Kosovo, which it was envisaged would take place after a three-year period, will be genuinely open to all possibilities, including independence? There has been a feeling in the West that to keep open the prospects of independence for Kosovo is destabilising. The alternative view, which I put forward when I initiated a short debate on this subject in October, is that to rule out Kosovan independence is destabilising and that to allow Milosovic disproportionate leverage, with the instability and resentment that that creates, is unhelpful to any political talks that take place. I realise that we are considering the present crisis, but it is important to the current situation to look forward politically. I put that point in my supplementary to the Question that I asked last Thursday and I do not believe that I received an answer from the noble Baroness, Lady Symons. I should like to have an assurance that we do not rule out Kosovan independence.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the interim settlement that has been negotiated, which is based on the Contact Group paper, provides for substantial self-government for the people of Kosovo with a Kosovan parliament and government, and gives substantial powers to communes and, crucially, control of local police by local authorities. However, the noble Baroness is quite right that that settlement should also preserve the territorial integrity of the FRY. The clear position of the EU Contact Group is that it supports the enhanced status with a large degree of autonomy for Kosovo within the FRY and it must include meaningful self-administration. Whatever happens, the status quo is clearly unsustainable. The US, with the support of the UK, is spearheading Contact Group work on the interim agreement.

If we ever reach a stage where both sides negotiate, they will be free to negotiate whatever they want. I do not believe that in that situation independence would be ruled out. We support any solution that is freely negotiated between the parties, but I do not believe that independence is a likely outcome. It is not a question of completely ruling out or ruling in anything. It is true that, since the problem escalated following the election of President Milosovic, attitudes in Kosovo have hardened considerably. It is undoubtedly the case that many people in Kosovo who then only wanted back the autonomy that had been taken away now want independence. It is a matter of achieving what is fair and can be sustained. If it was freely negotiated by both

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sides, there would be no reason why independence would not be acceptable to the world community, but I believe that to be a highly unlikely result.

Lord Chesham: My Lords, can the noble Baroness the Minister confirm that the verifiers were kept away from the area of this massacre at the weekend and given access only at the behest of the warring parties? A number of us are exceedingly concerned that the mistakes made in the first peacekeeping operation in Bosnia six years ago are being repeated in Kosovo. Yet again we have an under-equipped, under-supported monitoring force in place. A UN commander in Bosnia once put it that the force was standing around in the middle of somebody else's war. Are there any intentions to protect the monitors appropriately?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I believe that comparisons with UNPROFOR in Bosnia are entirely misleading. Both the OSCE and NATO verification missions have very strong operating mandates with clear and linked objectives. The verifiers are observing and reporting on the ground. The situation is different. I believe that we have already dealt with the question of protection of the verifiers. They are there to do a particular job and are not armed. They know what they have to do and they have a mandate to do it. There is a NATO Extraction Force waiting in the wings which one hopes will not have to be employed. Up until almost the present day they have been doing rather well in the context of their very difficult mandate. One hopes that one is not seeing the whole thing fall apart this weekend. One will know more when Generals Clark and Naumann return from Belgrade after tomorrow.

Baroness Ryder of Warsaw: My Lords, may I say how impressed I have been by the comments of the Minister and other noble Lords? I declare an interest. Since 1945 I have worked throughout the former Yugoslavia and established 22 homes and hospitals for the sick and handicapped of all ages out there. The late Marshal Tito told me several times before his death that war was inevitable between the Serbs and Kosovo. During the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s I witnessed and was involved in the fighting. Marshal Tito endeavoured to persuade the fierce, obstinate and strong Serbs to allow Kosovo to become an independent republic but they continuously refused. In my humble opinion, all the strong and excellent efforts made by NATO and others will not change the mind and intentions of Milosovic. I am always an optimist but sadly in this situation both in the past and now, and in the future, I cannot say that I am hopeful, for I know the situation out there only too well and the terrible hatred shown by the Serbs. I wish those who endeavour to create peace all possible success.

Baroness Ramsay of Carvale: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Ryder of Warsaw,

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for that intervention, with her wide knowledge and background of such conflicts. We all have to try to stay optimistic.

Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill [H.L.]

5.40 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 2.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 3, line 4, leave out subsection (5).

The noble Lord said: Subsection (5) treats a conditional discharge as a conviction for the purpose of deciding whether the new sentence of referral to a youth offender panel is to be available to magistrates. In another sense, it decides whether the new sentence is compulsory.

First, I believe that the words are likely to lead to confusion. A discharge, whether or not conditional, is supposed to be a discharge. However, the subsection states that a discharge shall be treated as a conviction; I paraphrase the provision. That seems likely to lead to confusion about the nature of a conditional discharge.

The second reason for moving the amendment is more directly related to the Bill. It is worth discussing whether it is correct to rule out the use of the new sentence for an offender who has been conditionally discharged on a previous occasion. While it is intended that the provision will be used primarily for those who have not been convicted previously, such a context is on the borderline. We know that provisions can be varied. Presumably--I say this hesitantly having been corrected before the break--this provision can be altered by the powers of the Secretary of State that we discussed perviously. At some time in the future perhaps the remit might be extended. If it were a temporary provision I might have less objection to it, but as a permanent provision it is unsatisfactory that a conditional discharge should forever make it impossible for anyone to receive a sentence of referral such as is dealt with in the Bill; and I refer to the confusion of the English used. I beg to move.

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