Over 100 British MPs against change to universal jurisdiction law 19Nov10 November 20, 2010

IMEMC -  19 November 2010


More than a hundred British MPs have opposed the coalition government’s plans to alter the law prosecuting Israeli leaders for alleged war crimes, Press TV claimed on Friday.

A parliamentary Early Day Motion has so far been signed by 102 MPs. The MPs oppose any legislation that restrict the power by British courts to apply the universal jurisdiction law. Based on this law, arrest warrants are issued to those accused of committing war crimes.

“Universal jurisdiction for human rights abuses is essential as part of the cause of bringing to justice those who commit crimes against humanity,” the motion said.

Signatories to date include 30 MPs from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative government’s junior coalition partners, as well as 65 Labour MPs, all three Plaid Cymru’s Welsh nationals, two of Northern Ireland’s SDLP MPs, and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.

The British government has pledged to change the law on universal jurisdiction by requiring the consent of the director of public prosecutions before any arrest warrant is issued.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, anticipated, in July, that the government would introduce an amendment to universal jurisdiction “at the first opportunity”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, said he would clarify the opposition party’s official position when the government’s plan is put forth.

The debate over the change to universal jurisdiction law was brought up last December 2009, when a warrant arrest was issued against the former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, due to her role played in the latest war on Gaza. The warrant forced Livni to cancel her visit to Britain.

A number of other Israel officials have cancelled their visits to the UK, being likely to face war crime arresting. Last month, Israel also canceled its high-level Security Dialogue meeting with Britain, set to be held in London.


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