Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Elizabeth Morley (PR 01)

I wish to make a submission to the Public Bill Committee scrutinising the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. I write as a private individual concerned about fairness in the application of international law and the observance of human rights. My interest is in that part of the Bill which aims to change the law on Universal Jurisdiction.  

 1. Most of my life I innocently believed that our leaders - whom we elect to represent us - are fair-minded, good people who condemn cruelty and injustice wherever it occurs and whoever perpetrates it against whomever. Rather late in life (I was 63 at the time) I found that there was an exception to this rule. This belated discovery occurred after the three week bombardment of Gaza by the IDF known as Operation Cast Lead, in which 1,400 people were mowed down, trapped in a virtual cage with nowhere to hide. About 300-400 were children. The United Nations has found that war crimes were committed. The government's silence in so far as Israel's responsibility went made me want to learn how this could be.

 2. My eyes were opened; I learned that when cruelty is perpetrated by Israel or by illegal Israeli settlers in the illegally and militarily occupied Palestinian territories against the Palestinian people, then our leaders stand back and do not condemn. The double standard is clearly based on political and not human rights considerations.

 3. I see double standards at work also in the government's lack of intent to stop alleged Israeli war criminals entering this country. I feel that Israeli politicians suspected of war crimes will never be brought to justice by our government.

 4. Under the law of Universal Jurisdiction there was a chance for ordinary people with a just grievance against these persons to apply for an arrest warrant. Now the government wants to prevent this for political motives. It promised Israel that it would change the law on Universal Jurisdiction. It then buried this proposal in a behemoth police bill in the expectation that it will go through with minimum of fuss. 

 5. The government seeks to undermine critics of this underhand procedure and all those who want to retain the existing law on Universal Jurisdiction: it claims that they are motivated by "political" reasons, as if its own intentions were any different. A look at the list of those invited to comment on the proposal in the Spring of this year - a strange selection of consultees if ever there was one! - is incontrovertible proof that the desired change was not for the cause of international justice but for pleasing political allies.  

 I am disgusted.

December 2010