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UK Politicising Decision to Arrest War Criminals: MP

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TEHRAN, March 31 (ICANA) – A Labour MP has criticised the failure of the House of Commons to remove a controversial government proposal to change universal jurisdiction at the behest of Israel from being included in unrelated legislation on police reforms.
Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:15:10 PM
UK Politicising Decision to Arrest War Criminals: MP

“What parliament has voted to do is to prevent ordinary citizens from applying to the district judge at Westminster Court to have someone arrested, who have committed crimes against humanity or human rights abuses,” Jeremy Corbyn said.

“Instead they have left that to the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions bringing every prosecution as a political decision rather than an independent judicial decision,” Corbyn told IRNA.

On Wednesday night, MPs voted overwhelmingly by 480 to 37 to reject an amendment proposed by chair of the All-Party Group on Human Rights, Ann Clwyd, to remove the change on universal jurisdiction from the final reading of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.

“Changing the law at the request of a foreign government does not, I would argue, enhance our ability to act as an international peace broker. It does exactly the opposite by undermining our credibility to speak as a country that takes human rights seriously,” Clwyd said.

Previously more than 120 MPs signed an Early Day Motion, saying that they would oppose any amendment to the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes wherever they occur.

Corbyn said it was a “bad day” for the British parliament, compounded by Foreign Secretary, William Hague, making his latest virtual daily statement on Libya, which was “worse than the one before.”

He chided both of the coalition government and the opposition Labour leadership, which have both pledged to Israel to change the law following the issuing of an arrest warrant against former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, in December 2009.

“Both front benches gave the game away by saying: 'Well, you have to take foreign policy considerations into consideration, don't you?” the veteran backbencher said.

“If someone has committed a war crime, they have committed a war crime, whether they are from a so-called friendly nation or an enemy nation, they have committed a war crime,” he said.

The bill is yet to be debated by peers in the House of Lords and Corbyn said that people will have to wait to see what happens, but “we live in hope” that the change in universal jurisdiction is amended or throw out before becoming law.

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