Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Andrew White (PR 129)

Support for clause 151

I am a solicitor, and a partner in a City of London law firm.  I am, however, writing this submission in my personal capacity, as a lawyer with a long-standing interest in the law relating to international human rights, and war crimes.

I should add that I also run an Israel education and advocacy project in my spare time called Beyond Images. We are not an 'Israel right or wrong' project, but argue rationally and humanely for the rights of all the people of the region, including the Palestinian Arabs.

I am writing to express my support for clause 151 in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. I very much hope that the clause will be enacted into law.

I am a strong believer in the importance of 'universal jurisdiction' and the bringing to justice anywhere in the world of war criminals.  But the current law in the UK, whereby an arrest warrant can be obtained from a magistrates court as a result of an individual request, has resulted in the politicisation and abuse of the universal jurisdiction system.

The targeting by grass-roots campaigners of visiting Israeli politicians and military officials before the evidence has been authoritatively scrutinised reflects a blatant double-standard, especially when Iranian, Saudi, Russian and other officials enter into the UK with relative impunity.  Furthermore, it could be only a matter of time before British and American officials are targeted too, in blatantly politicised campaigns, arising out of the conflict s in Afghanistan or Iraq. 

February 2011

Clause 151 is required to end this belittling of international human rights law and universal jurisdiction, from which no-one benefits.  I believe that the process certainly needs the safeguard of the prior approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued.

Yours sincerely

Andrew White