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Bill passed altering UK position on Universal Jurisdiction

Bill passed altering UK position on Universal Jurisdiction

Categories: Latest News

Friday September 16 2011

     The JC this week reports on the passing of the changes to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility bill altering the UK’s position on universal jurisdiction. The changes defer the decision on issuing an arrest warrant for visiting persons wanted on suspicion of committing war crimes to the Director of Public Prosecutions thereby removing the right of Magistrates courts to issue a warrant for arrest.

From the JC:

“Nearly two years after Israeli Opposition leader Tzipi Livni was forced to cancel a trip to the UK when pro-Palestinian activists applied for a warrant for her arrest, the change was given the Royal Assent and became law.
“The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act means that the Director of Public Prosecutions will be required to give his consent when a group calls for an arrest warrant to be issued on the grounds of universal jurisdiction.”

In a statement on the changes to the law, the Board of Deputies gives thanks to those lobby organisations whose efforts have been instrumental in pushing the changes through. The statement says:

“We are grateful to the government for delivering on their promise to pass this and would like to acknowledge the efforts of the various communal groups, in particular the JLC, Board of Deputies and Friends of Israel groups that have helped to ensure the safe passage of the bill”.

The change to the law is all the more surprising, and perhaps a credit to the various Jewish groups for lobbying MPs and peers to support it, because the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report on the issue in May this year criticised the proposed change as “a retrograde step in the ability of the UK to implement its obligations in international criminal law to prosecute international crimes.”

The changes were also passed despite a huge number of MPs signing an early day motion last year calling for no revision to the law.

The vote in the House of Lords was tied with 222 voting in favour, and 222 voting against, but in keeping with parliamentary rules the vote is considered as having passed.


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