Genocide amendment

I share concerns about human rights abuses in countries around the world, including in China. I have repeatedly raised the crimes perpetrated against the Uighur people in Xinjiang in the House of Commons, and I will continue to campaign against genocide. I am pleased that the Government does not intend to negotiate a free trade agreement with China.


The United Kingdom is a long-standing promoter of human rights worldwide, and as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, we have a duty to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice. I support these efforts, and I agree that trade must not come at the expense of human rights.


While I supported the ultimate aim of the amendment, I do not believe it is appropriate to transfer the duty for revoking an international trade agreement to the courts, which would be contrary to the supremacy of Parliament. Moreover, it would risk vexatious cases against countries which have not committed genocide, which might discourage businesses from making use of the trade agreement in question. Alternatively, there is a chance that a genocidal regime might win a case on a technicality, and use that outcome to whitewash its crimes.


I understand that the House of Lords will debate the Trade Bill again on February 2nd, where it will consider a revised version of the amendment. I will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill, and will pay close attention to any revised amendment that seeks to allay some of my concerns.