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Amendment to Prevent UK Changing Universal Jurisdiction

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TEHRAN, Feb 21 (ICANA) – British MPs are being urged to support an amendment to remove a controversial proposal in the government’s Police Reform Bill aimed to make it more difficult to arrest Israeli leaders for war crimes when visiting the UK.
Monday, February 21, 2011 10:02:46 PM
Amendment to Prevent UK Changing Universal Jurisdiction
The amendment to exclude clause 151, which requires the prior agreement of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for universal jurisdiction cases, has been put forward by Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group. The police bill has just finished its committee stage and is due to be debated after MPs return to parliament following this week’s recess, IRNA has learnt. The proposed change to universal jurisdiction is to meet an election pledge made by the Conservatives in the Jewish Chronicle last year to make it more difficult to arrest Israeli leaders for alleged war crimes. The Conservative-led coalition already faces a rebellion from more than 120 MPs, who have signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM), declaring that they will vote against any change. Signatures of the EDM includes 32 MPs from the Liberal Democrat Party, the Conservatives’ junior coalition partners, who say they will “oppose any legislation to restrict” universal jurisdiction. Critics of the change, which include international lawyers, peace campaigners, trade unionists and civil rights activists, warn that having to seek the approval of the DPP will cause unnecessary delay and allow suspects “to escape justice” when visiting the UK. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is urging the public to lobby MPs to ensure that they support Clwyd’s amendment in the third and final reading of the police bill before it is passed to the House of Lords. The attempt to change the law comes after more than a year of Israeli protests following the issuing of an arrest warrant for former foreign minister Tzipi Livni over her role in attacking Gaza that forced her to cancel a visit to the UK in December 2009. The issue first came to prominence back in 2006, when a warrant was issued for General Doron Almog before fleeing back to Israel, but the risk of its current leaders being arrested for war crimes has grown from incriminating evidence published in the Goldstone Report. Clwyd, aged 73, has been an MP for 27 years. She was a previous chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party and also previously served as the UK special envoy on human rights in Iraq.
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