Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by JNF (PR 127)

1. JNF is a leading charity in the UK, supporting humanitarian, ecological and infrastructure projects in Israel.

2. JNF has a particular interest in making representations to the Scrutiny Unit in relation to its consideration of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill and in particular in relation to clause 151 (Universal Jurisdiction) for the reasons set out in paragraph 3

3. Israel's former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, was due to have attended JNF’s annual conference in December 2009, and to have given a keynote address to the delegates attending this important event. Her visit, being in a private, rather than official, capacity, was therefore not one to which automatic immunity from arrest was afforded, and an arrest warrant was issued. As a result Ms Livni could not travel to the United Kingdom to attend JNF’s conference.

4. As that law was then, and remains to date, the judicial process in the UK allows any member of the public to apply to a magistrate for the issue of an arrest warrant, without any involvement of the British Government or its Law Officers.

5. JNF is not opposed to Universal Jurisdiction per se; it provides a useful means to strengthen the law on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. However JNF is opposed to the current procedure that is referred to in paragraph 4 above, because it is open to abuse by those seeking to exploit it for political reasons, thereby bringing the UK’s judicial system into disrepute.

6. As a result not only have Israel’s interests been damaged, but also those of the United Kingdom. It is in the interests of the UK to be free to conduct normal bilateral relations, at Government and NGO level, with a country with which it has long historical ties, and with whose Government the British Government has a mutual interest in pursuing both close economic and trade ties and the positive steps necessary to secure a stable and peaceful Middle East. Therefore the application of the current rules is hampering the dialogue between the British and Israeli Governments that is so vital to achieving these objectives, and preventing the British Government from playing a more meaningful part in that peace process.

7. JNF therefore supports the amendment in Clause 151 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill that would require the prior authority of the DPP before such an arrest warrant could be issued.

February 2011