[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Iraq ransom payments criticised
Germany welcomed home two hostages held for 99 days
Germany recently welcomed home two hostages held for 99 days
Ransom payments to release foreign hostages in Iraq have been criticised by the vice-chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Baroness Emma Nicholson said payments would only encourage more kidnappings.

It comes after the Times said it had seen documents showing France, Italy and Germany sanctioned millions of dollars of payments to free hostages.

The countries have denied any such payments, but Baroness Nicholson said she would raise the issue at the EU.

More than 280 foreign nationals - and thousands of Iraqis - are thought to have been kidnapped in Iraq.

Baroness Nicholson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The problem with kidnapping in this region is that the more you pay, the more people get kidnapped.

The common rule is that you don't negotiate with terrorists, you don't negotiate with kidnappers, you don't do so with money
Baroness Emma Nicholson
European Parliament's foreign affairs committee

"Iraqis are being kidnapped every hour, on the hour, in many quantities for the last three and a half years."

She said she could understand why nations took unilateral action for their own reasons, "but that's not what modern life is all about".

"It's about sticking to common rules, not ignoring them when the going gets rough.

"And the common rule is that you don't negotiate with terrorists, you don't negotiate with kidnappers, you don't do so with money."

She said she would put forward an emergency resolution and a parliamentary question to commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner, Austrian ex-foreign minister and the commissioner for foreign affairs in the European Commission.

She would also raise it with the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

French authorities denied paying ransoms for the release of two journalists in December 2004 and another journalist in June 2005.

"As French authorities indicated at the moment of the release of the hostages, there has been no payment of ransom," foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told The Associated Press.

German and Italian authorities have always stated they do not pay ransoms.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific