Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Dr John Roderick Walters (PR 36)

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill 2010-11 introduces a new requirement for private prosecutors to obtain the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutors prior to the issue of an arrest warrant for 'universal jurisdiction' offences such as war crimes or torture.

The principle of universal jurisdiction asserts that individuals accused of crimes against humanity, such as torture, genocide, extrajudicial executions or war crimes, can be charged with those crimes outside their native country. Under its provisions, the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes in Darfur and cannot visit State Parties of the ICC without the prospect of arrest; Charles Taylor is currently being prosecuted for alleged war crimes in connection with the Sierra Leone Civil War; and Radovan Karadžić for crimes committed during the Siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of 7500 Moslems at Srebenica while his fellow Bosnian Serb Ratko Mladic has also been indicted and is a fugitive from justice.

Universal Jurisdiction should also apply to Israel, guilty of innumerable war crimes, most recently in their "Operation Cast Lead" offensive against Gaza, and of continual breaches of Human Rights against Palestinians. You may remember that last year a British court did issue an arrest warrant against the former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who consequently cancelled a planned trip to Britain. But the present government have promised Israel to introduce legislation to remove such a threat, the proposed clauses being the means of accomplishing that. The Government thus would maintain the principle of international jurisdiction while contriving that our ‘friends and allies’ should be exempt from it.

This is unacceptable. It is yet another instance of Israel being presumed - by itself and its protectors - to above international law. It is only by enforcing international law against that Israel may be persuaded to desist from its never-ending annexations, from building its 'separation wall' and from the perpetration of inumerable war crimes and infringments of Palestinian human rights. 

 I call on the government to drop this transparent 'favour' to Israel.

December 2011