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Archive for July 29th, 2010

I felt like a bit of Shakespeare tonight….

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The right to arrest war crime suspects

Guardian Letter 29th July 2010

[I have reproduced the Guardian Letter in full]

We are horrified at the proposals by justice secretary Kenneth Clarke to give the director of public prosecutions a veto over arrest warrants in private prosecutions for international crimes (Report, 22 July). The justice secretary’s statement appeared to question the ability of magistrates themselves to weed out flimsy cases. To imply that any previous arrest warrants were issued without judges being satisfied of the existence of serious evidence against the person concerned is an insult to the British legal system and the senior magistrates that preside over such cases. Involving the DPP risks adding a political dimension to a legal decision and introduces a source of delay when urgent action may be required to stop a suspect escaping justice.

Since we call on other countries to uphold human rights and international law, our legal system also has to abide by those principles, in particular bringing to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and hostage-taking. It’s no secret that this move is the result of pressure from the Israeli government to try to ensure that ex-ministers and military staff will not have to face warrants for their arrest on entering this country.

Rather than bending to pressure to change the existing law, our government should be issuing a statement of intent that all those responsible for serious international crimes, whatever their nationality, will be brought to justice if and when the evidence supports criminal prosecution. The proposed changes will apply to everyone, making it more difficult to prosecute all suspects, whether from Israel or any other country involved in systematic human rights violations. Britain must not be seen as a safe haven for anyone suspected of committing such grave international crimes.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC

Daniel Machover

Louise Christian

Alexei Sayle

Miriam Margoyles

Keith Sonnet Deputy general secretary, Unison

Hugh Lanning Deputy general secretary, PCS

Sally Hunt General secretary, UCU

Kevin Courtney Deputy general Secretary, NUT

Andy Dark Assistant general secretar, FBU

Tony Woodley Joint general secretary, Unite

Simon Dubbins International director, Unite

Betty Hunter General secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Rev Canon Garth Hewitt

Benjamin Zephaniah

Lindsey German Chair, Stop the War

Daud Abdullah Director, Middle East Monitor

Chris Doyle Director Council for Arab-British Understanding

Mohammed Sawalha British Muslim Initiative

Farooq Murad Secretary general, Muslim Council of Britain

Diana Neslen Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Diane Abbott MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Emily Thornberry MP

Bruce Kent

Karma Nabulsi

Ahdaf Soueif

Caryl Churchill

John Austin

Eleanor Kilroy

Karen Mitchell

Victoria Brittain

Sarah McSherry

Katherine Craig

Ian McDonald

Penny Maddrell

Jackie Alsaid

Andrew Sanger

David Halpin

Bill Benfield

Yvonne Ridley

Andy Newman

Mohammed Asif

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